Amazon Faces Economic Challenges, Continues Cost-Cutting

Amazon is continuing the cost-cutting that CEO Andy Jassy emphasized when the company reported a $2 billion loss in Q2. The company is shutting down Amazon Explore, a virtual tourism initiative launched during the COVID-19 lockdown, unplugging the robotics ventures Canvas and ORCA, and dimming the lights on the Amazon Glow, a video-calling projector for kids. In recent weeks, Amazon also confirmed the end of field tests for the autonomous delivery service Scout. This in the wake of a hiring freeze at its retail division and the closure of the Amazon Care telehealth venture. Continue reading Amazon Faces Economic Challenges, Continues Cost-Cutting

California Governor Signs Online Child Protection Bill into Law

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act into law last week, making his state the first in the nation to adopt online child safety measures. The bipartisan legislation requires online platforms to default to privacy and safety settings that protect children’s mental and physical health. The new law, cosponsored by Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks (D-15th District) and Jordan Cunningham (R-35th District), prohibits companies that provide online services and products in California from using a child’s personal information and forbids collecting, selling, or retaining a child’s geolocation, among other things. Continue reading California Governor Signs Online Child Protection Bill into Law

CES: Highlights from the 2022 CES Unveiled Pre-Show Event

ETC’s George Gerba visited the CES Unveiled show floor in Las Vegas Monday evening looking for companies and products that would be of interest to our members, illustrate emerging trends, or are simply unusual. Gerba discovered a range of compelling technologies across areas such as blockchain, non-fungible tokens, Li-Fi, wearables, large-scale video screens, the metaverse, remote work, cell signal boosters, health, batteries and more. Among the more interesting companies at CES Unveiled this year were Icecap, Oledcomm, Somalytics, VideowindoW, Toraru, SureCall, Biospectal, Prinker, Airxom and Nanotech Energy.  Continue reading CES: Highlights from the 2022 CES Unveiled Pre-Show Event

Facebook Negatively Impacts Society, According to CNN Poll

About 76 percent of adults believe Facebook makes U.S. society worse while 11 percent say the social network makes society better and 13 find it neutral, according to a new CNN poll by SSRS. Roughly 50 percent said they know someone who bought into a conspiracy theory they read about on the site. Meanwhile, Facebook parent Meta Platforms says that beginning January 19 it will discontinue advertisers’ ability to target users based on their history of accessing content about health, ethnicity, politics, religion, sexual orientation and myriad other topics. The change applies to Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Continue reading Facebook Negatively Impacts Society, According to CNN Poll

Research Highlights Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

A Facebook team researching user well-being found that 1 in 8 users engage in compulsive social media habits that impact work, sleep, parenting or relationships, an analysis of recently released company documents suggests. The potentially harmful behavior, said to be categorized as “problematic use,” is comparable to what is also known as “Internet addiction.” Researchers said while some users lack control over disengaging from Facebook, the behavior isn’t considered “clinical addiction” because it doesn’t impact the brain the same way as habits like gambling or substance abuse. The research also referenced compulsive behavior among users of other social media apps. Continue reading Research Highlights Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

CTA Forecast: Holiday Tech Spending to Reach $142.5 Billion

Tech sales during the 2021 October through December holiday season will reach $142.5 billion, according to the Consumer Technology Association, which says the projection represents “a very slight 0.5 percent increase from 2020.” A record 191.3 million U.S. adults plan to purchase technology as a holiday gift, the CTA says, adding that its 28th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns report “could have important implications” for fourth quarter TV advertising. The study found that 83 percent of U.S. adults “are unaffected by or more likely to purchase tech due to the pandemic.” Continue reading CTA Forecast: Holiday Tech Spending to Reach $142.5 Billion

Next Generation Smartwatches: From Fitness to Full-Service

In less than 10 years, the smartwatch has reached a tipping point, able to oversee many meaningful aspects of life. From home security to keeping tabs on your biometrics, wearability and design distinguish smartwatches from other devices — the closest approximation to cybernetics within reach of the average person with $300 to spend. Prices range from about $800 to $1,170 for Montblanc’s Summit 2+, a collaboration between Verizon, Qualcomm and the German luxury goods firm. An array of brands, including Samsung, Apple and Garmin have made it their business to redefine the smartwatch. Continue reading Next Generation Smartwatches: From Fitness to Full-Service

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