Qualcomm Inks Partnerships With 5G Device Makers, Carriers

For 5G to take off, manufacturers have to produce devices that integrate the technology. To that end, Qualcomm has partnered with 19 device makers, all of which will be relying on the chipmaker’s new Snapdragon X50 5G-compatible modem in at least one of their devices. Qualcomm has inked additional partnerships with global carriers, which will also be using the X50 modem for their 5G trials. All four major U.S. networks will begin their rollout of 5G networks by the end of this year, with full nationwide coverage by 2020. Continue reading Qualcomm Inks Partnerships With 5G Device Makers, Carriers

Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

Google is stepping up its competition with Apple in the smartphone market. The company inked a $1.1 billion deal with Taiwan-based HTC, which added more than 2,000 smartphone specialists. Google will now be able to design more of its own hardware and may position itself to manufacture more custom silicon chips. Up until now, Google has focused on software, and purchased hardware from Samsung Electronics and HTC. Newly added HTC staff will help Google control more of the design and production. Continue reading Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

Huawei VR2 Headset Lauded for Comfort, Res, Sound Quality

At CES 2018, Huawei made the U.S. debut of its Huawei VR2 headset, which had been announced in October in China. The standalone unit resembles the Oculus or Vive rather than the Gear VR; the user attaches a phone, tablet or PC via USB-C and then enjoys the VR experience at a resolution of 1,600 x 1,440 per eye. The unit also features a 90Hz refresh rate, which reduces eyestrain and motion sickness. The controller, made of the same bright white polymer as the headset, offers a clickable touchpad. Continue reading Huawei VR2 Headset Lauded for Comfort, Res, Sound Quality

China Sets Sights on Dominating Global AI Processor Market

China, the world’s largest market for silicon chips, has tried for years to challenge the dominance of Intel and Qualcomm in producing CPUs (central processing units). Some companies there are now seizing an opportunity to become No. 1 in the production of processors specifically aimed at artificial intelligence applications, from cars and smartphones to home appliances. Although Chinese companies jumped into AI from the beginning, they still face significant competition from Apple, Google, Intel and Qualcomm among others. Continue reading China Sets Sights on Dominating Global AI Processor Market

CES Keynotes: Intel, Ford & Huawei Focus on Smart, Mobile

CES, a massive exhibition of innovation and new products, now offers a rich program experience with more than 1,200 speakers participating in 42 different conference tracks and hundreds of individual sessions. Intel, Ford and Huawei have been announced as the featured keynote presentations. This is a smaller set of main stage keynotes than previous years and features a more traditional line-up than the past two years, when Carnival Corporation surprised in 2017 and Netflix announced itself as the world’s first global television network in 2016. Continue reading CES Keynotes: Intel, Ford & Huawei Focus on Smart, Mobile

Apple Invests $390M into Depth/Proximity Chip Maker Finisar

Apple just revealed that it is investing $390 million in Finisar, the company that manufactures the chips used in Apple’s products for depth and proximity sensing. Apple has made use of the chip’s capabilities in some of its new features, including Face ID, Animoji and ARKit, the software development kit for augmented reality. The investment comes from Apple’s $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund. The Sunnyvale, California-based Finisar will use the money to re-open a plant in Texas that will create 500 jobs. Continue reading Apple Invests $390M into Depth/Proximity Chip Maker Finisar

Smartwatches, Fitness Bands Still Dominate Wearables Sector

At last year’s CES, wearables were a viable category but had lost a bit of the luster of previous years, as consumers were deluged with competing fitness bands, smartwatches and even smart fabrics and jewelry. Although many of the entrants were intriguing, nothing popped out as revealing the path forward. CES 2018 promises to be similar, with some notable exceptions. Shipments in the wearables market are at an all-time high, but few manufacturers think wearables will have a significant impact on their bottom line in 2018. Continue reading Smartwatches, Fitness Bands Still Dominate Wearables Sector

Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

Google will spend $1.1 billion to purchase part of HTC’s smartphone operations. The Internet giant plans to use HTC’s engineering and design teams to help ramp up its nascent hardware efforts to complement its expanding portfolio of software products and grow its revenue beyond Android and search ads. The deal, which is expected to bring about 2,000 HTC employees to Google, also includes a non-exclusive licensing agreement for HTC intellectual property. While HTC has shown growth potential in VR with its Vive headset, its mobile business has been struggling. Continue reading Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Over the weekend, the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) released its draft VR and 360 video production and distribution guidelines at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam. The draft document begins with an intro section suggesting best practices for VR/360 production, including experiences with three degrees of freedom (3DOF). It then makes specific recommendations for the technical aspects of visual and audio VR/360 content production, media and presentation profiles, and content security. VRIF aims to release the full guidelines, with an emphasis on an open ecosystem, at CES 2018 in January. Continue reading VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Apple’s Innovative Chips Ready to Lead in AR, AI, Wearables

The new iPhone X offers several new features, but none of them more innovative than the neural engine that is part of Apple’s new A11 Bionic SoC processor. Artificial neural networks, which excel at processing images and speech, are behind the phone’s ability to recognize the user’s face to unlock it, transfer facial expressions onto Animoji (animated emoji), and other, as-of-yet unspecified features. As Apple moves into augmented reality and image recognition, the neural engine will likely be central to these endeavors. Continue reading Apple’s Innovative Chips Ready to Lead in AR, AI, Wearables

Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

Google just released ARCore, software to enable developers to more easily create augmented reality apps. The company took its first step into augmented reality in 2014, when it introduced Tango, its 3D mapping system. But it had a hard time getting Android phone makers to make the necessary hardware upgrades to foster widespread AR adoption. Google now hopes that, rather than expensive hardware upgrades, developers will be more enticed by its software solution for allowing apps and sites to track physical objects and overlay them with virtual images. Continue reading Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

Amazon Promotes Alexa With SDK, Revenue for Developers

Amazon is going full bore promoting its virtual assistant Alexa. In an effort to make it available on more devices, the company has debuted the Alexa Voice Service Device SDK toolset, which lets developers integrate a fully functional version to their devices, offering speech recognition and all the other Alexa capabilities such as notifications, weather reports, streaming media and thousands of voice apps. Amazon is providing additional incentive to developers by paying those whose voice apps demonstrate customer engagement. Continue reading Amazon Promotes Alexa With SDK, Revenue for Developers

Nokia Phone Features Zeiss Optics, 360 Video, Spatial Audio

The once-popular Finnish smartphone manufacturer Nokia, now under the aegis of HMD Global, is introducing a new mobile device. With its Android-based Nokia 8, the company hopes to compete with the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S8. HMD Global, led by former Nokia employees and funded by private equity, bought Nokia’s phone tech from Microsoft, which purchased it in 2013. The flagship phone, encased in polished aluminum, is 7.9-mm thick and features a high-resolution 5.3-inch screen, 4K video recording, Carl Zeiss optics and spatial audio emanating from its 360-degree camera. Continue reading Nokia Phone Features Zeiss Optics, 360 Video, Spatial Audio

Andy Rubin’s Company Unveils New Phone, Digital Assistant

Android operating system co-creator Andy Rubin has introduced his Essential Phone that he says can be dropped onto concrete without breaking. The new smartphone, which will run on Android software, has magnetic connectors for a 360-degree camera or charger. Priced at $699 and available only in the U.S., Essential Phone will come without preinstalled apps or a need for yearly updates. Rubin also unveiled Essential Home, a voice-activated device that controls appliances. Both products are part of Rubin’s Playground Global incubator. Continue reading Andy Rubin’s Company Unveils New Phone, Digital Assistant

Apple iPhone Sales Dip While Apple Pay, Apple Watch Soar

In the latest quarter, Apple’s profit and revenue have ticked upward, but the company is experiencing problems with its iPhone, whose sales dropped 1 percent from the previous year to 50.8 million phones. The dip in sales is attributed to customers waiting for the 10-year anniversary phone, due in the fall, and weakness in China. Despite the slump, sales of the iPhone 7 were somewhat strong, pushing total revenue up 4.6 percent to $52.90 billion. In contrast to the iPhone, Apple Pay transactions and Apple Watch sales soared. Continue reading Apple iPhone Sales Dip While Apple Pay, Apple Watch Soar

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