Apple Unveils iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 at Annual Event

In the midst of troubling press attention as the company faces antitrust claims and ongoing criticism of its App Store business model, Apple unveiled its iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 during a streaming event yesterday. Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared live on a virtual set rather than the traditional in-person stage as a precaution during COVID-19. Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro features a new camera system that promises a new cinematic mode, improved low-light capabilities and an updated ultra-wide lens. The Apple Watch 7, touting a revamped look, includes new features such as a larger screen, softer corners, more support for e-bikes and fall detection for cycling. Continue reading Apple Unveils iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 at Annual Event

Amazon Debuts Wellness Program to Curb Workplace Injuries

With the goal of lowering workplace injuries 50 percent by 2025, Amazon introduced its WorkingWell safety and injury prevention program. Chief executive Jeff Bezos has long focused on common warehouse manual labor injuries, especially MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders), most recently in his annual letter to shareholders. WorkingWell will offer employees with physical, mental and nutritional support in every U.S. operation by the end of 2021. The program, which comes as Amazon looks to hire 75,000 new workers, targets “recordable incident rates,” an OSHA measurement for worker injury and illness. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Wellness Program to Curb Workplace Injuries

ETC Publishes its Perspective on Consumer Electronics Show

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) set “the global stage for innovation” in an all-digital format when CES 2021 opened its four-day run in January. The annual confab shaped up less as a showcase for breakthrough future technology and more as a bellwether for a world massively altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, instead of key product trends to define our media and entertainment industry focus, the ETC@USC team emphasized four dynamics to drive much of the discussion: Adaptation, Change, Snapback and Opportunity. For an examination of these themes, ETC’s CES report is now available online. Continue reading ETC Publishes its Perspective on Consumer Electronics Show

CES: Masks, Sensors, Robotics and Fitness in the COVID Era

As we continue to contend with a global pandemic that has led to numerous changes involving remote work and learning, telemedicine, home fitness, social distancing, online shopping, and more, it should come as no surprise that devices and services showcased at this year’s all-digital CES focused on a range of COVID-related issues. From high-tech masks designed to comfortably combat spread of the coronavirus and sensors that alert wearers of flu-like symptoms, to robots that disinfect work spaces with UVC light and televisions that take personal training to a new level, many companies touted wares for the COVID era consumer. Continue reading CES: Masks, Sensors, Robotics and Fitness in the COVID Era

CES 2021 Opens with Predictions on Tech Trends for the Year

At the opening of the all-digital CES 2021 this week, Consumer Technology Association vice president of research Steve Koenig and director of research Lesley Rohrbaugh described their predictions for innovation and technology trends to expect in the coming year, noting that the CTA provides 30 studies a year on its website. Koenig put 2021 in context as following a tough 2020 of COVID-19 and related economic downturn. “As a global community we confronted a lot of those challenges together and saw a myriad of solutions from tech innovation,” he said. Continue reading CES 2021 Opens with Predictions on Tech Trends for the Year

Facebook Struggles to Contain Health Misinformation, QAnon

According to global civic movement Avaaz, over the past year Facebook enabled 3.8 billion views of misinformation related to health, almost four times the views of sites such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This has occurred despite Facebook’s partnership with these organizations to expose users to reliable information. In another effort to squelch misinformation, Facebook removed 790 QAnon groups and restricted another 1,950 groups, 440 pages and 10,000+ Instagram accounts. Continue reading Facebook Struggles to Contain Health Misinformation, QAnon

CTA Announces All-Digital Experience for January’s CES 2021

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced that its next annual CES confab, scheduled for January 6-9, will be “an all-digital experience” due to the coronavirus pandemic. While prioritizing the health and safety of exhibitors and attendees, the virtual experience promises the usual keynotes and conferences, product showcases, media events, and opportunities for meetings and networking. According to CTA chief exec Gary Shapiro, “Technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic — and that innovation will also help us reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech community in a meaningful way.” Continue reading CTA Announces All-Digital Experience for January’s CES 2021

AMC Prepares to Open Most of its Theaters Worldwide by July

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie-theater chain, particularly hard. After registering a $2.2 billion net loss for Q1, it made “virtually no revenue” in the first two weeks of the quarter ending March 30. Now, AMC chief executive Adam Aron says he hopes to get AMC Theatres in the U.S. and U.K. open in July, although he did not specify a date. AMC has 1,000 theaters with 11,000 screens in several countries. In California, 51 counties have been approved to reopen movie theaters as soon as June 12. Continue reading AMC Prepares to Open Most of its Theaters Worldwide by July

Study Reveals Growing COVID-19 Anxiety Over Public Spaces

People have been locked down due to the coronavirus for two months, but a mid-May survey from Performance Research, in partnership with Full Circle Research Co., revealed that many are still anxious about health and safety in larger public spaces. In fact, the survey indicates that, despite a strong desire to gather with others and resume normal activities, the level of anxiety for many has been building since an earlier survey taken in March. Such a trend could impact movie theaters, theme parks, sports venues, concert halls, stage performances and more.

Continue reading Study Reveals Growing COVID-19 Anxiety Over Public Spaces

Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

Long-time rivals Apple and Google joined forces to build software into smartphones that would alert people who have recently been in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. Users will have to opt-in to use the tool, which will be ready to release in “several months” and enable smartphones to “constantly log other devices they come near,” to accomplish what is called contact tracing. It also relies on a user’s voluntary report of having become infected. The two companies said they teamed-up in the last two weeks. Continue reading Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

FCC Grants T-Mobile, Verizon Extra Spectrum During Pandemic

As data usage soars during the coronavirus pandemic, the big carriers are seeing their 4G LTE networks stressed to the max. On Sunday, the Federal Communications Commission gave permission to T-Mobile to use 600MHz spectrum on loan from Dish, Comcast, NewLevel and other companies for 60 days. In fact, Dish is allowing AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to utilize some of its unused spectrum to enhance and speed up their 4G LTE networks. AT&T customers, for example, could see an “up to 20Mbps uptick in data performance.” Continue reading FCC Grants T-Mobile, Verizon Extra Spectrum During Pandemic

Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

With movie theaters shuttered across the U.S. due to the coronavirus, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) asked Congress and the Trump administration for loan guarantees and tax benefits to help pay workers and keep theater chains afloat. The top 10 theater chains in the nation have already or will shut down their theaters, representing 89 percent of U.S. screens. NATO represents 33,000+ screens in all 50 states. The Trump administration is considering similar benefits for the airline industry. Continue reading Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations

In response to precautions being taken to avoid spread of the coronavirus, AMC Theatres announced that, as of yesterday, it is closing its U.S. locations for at least 6-12 weeks while remaining flexible to comply with CDC and government guidelines. “AMC Stubs A-List members will automatically have their accounts paused” for the period of closure (without billing or payments), while film fans “are encouraged to continue the AMC movie-watching experience through AMC Theatres On Demand.” AMC joins Regal Cinemas, which announced earlier that it would be closing all its theater locations “until further notice.” Continue reading Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations

Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus as Streamers Reap Rewards

The coronavirus is hitting the National Association of Theatre Owners particularly hard, as local governments close movie theaters and consumers turn to streaming services. Regal Cinemas announced it is closing all its theaters, effective today, until further notice. Meanwhile, studios are reconsidering the exclusive 90-day window for theatrical exhibition. Universal Pictures is the the first major studio to announce a change to the traditional model. “We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theaters where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible,” said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. Continue reading Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus as Streamers Reap Rewards

Apple Closes its Retail Stores, Vets Apps Related to COVID-19

Due to the coronavirus, Apple closed its retail stores outside of mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The move will shutter 450 stores in 21 countries until March 27. Apple chief executive Tim Cook noted that, “the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance.” Employees of the stores will continue to be paid. The company is also paying special attention to apps related to the coronavirus, to weed out misinformation and inappropriate content. Continue reading Apple Closes its Retail Stores, Vets Apps Related to COVID-19