ByteDance Buys Startup Pico, Virtual Reality Headset Maker

TikTok parent company ByteDance has acquired startup Pico, which, according to IDC, was the third largest virtual reality headset manufacturer worldwide in Q1 2021, with shipments growing 44.7. percent year-over-year. The purchase marks ByteDance’s first step into virtual reality and the company said that Pico’s “comprehensive suite of software and hardware technologies, as well as the talent and deep expertise of the team, will support both our entry to the VR space and long-term investment in this emerging field.” Continue reading ByteDance Buys Startup Pico, Virtual Reality Headset Maker

Facebook Steps into Workplace VR with Horizon Workrooms

During the COVID-19 pandemic, IDC reported that Facebook sold more Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets than before. Now Facebook offers Quest 2 owners Horizon Workrooms, a free VR service that offers virtual meeting rooms. Users can participate with a customized cartoon avatar and the room offers virtual white boards for drawing and writing, a step towards what chief executive Mark Zuckerberg dubs the “mixed-reality future” for its 3.5 billion users. Zuckerberg introduced Workrooms in VR with employees and reporters in attendance. Continue reading Facebook Steps into Workplace VR with Horizon Workrooms

Laptops Embrace Smartphone Tech in Wake of the Pandemic

According to IDC, although computer sales have been decreasing for the past decade, during the COVID-19 pandemic PC sales shot up 50 percent or more per quarter compared with the previous year. As a result, laptop manufacturers are now integrating technologies once reserved for smartphones, including powerful processors, higher-resolution displays, and increased battery life. New designs such as tablets that snap onto keyboards (detachables) and thin laptops with 360-degree hinges that fold into tablet form are also emerging. Continue reading Laptops Embrace Smartphone Tech in Wake of the Pandemic

Apple Still Leads Wearables Market, Small Rivals Fuel Growth

IDC reported that 100+ million wearables — including smartwatches, fitness trackers and AR glasses — shipped in Q1, a record-breaking number, especially in what tends to be a slow period. Q2 this year has also seen a 34.4 percent increase in sales year-over-year. The research firm revealed that Apple leads the sector, with a market share of 28.8 percent, followed by Samsung at 11.3 percent, Xiaomi at 9.7 percent and Huawei at 8.2 percent. After that, the next player is India’s boAt, which has a market share of 2.9 percent. Continue reading Apple Still Leads Wearables Market, Small Rivals Fuel Growth

Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Pinterest allows users to “pin” photos and videos onto boards, helping them to “discover ideas through images,” especially those pinned by people or companies that they follow. It uses neural networks, which make millions of calculations quickly, to surface and suggest the images that people will like. According to Pinterest senior vice president of engineering Jeremy King, this tool is responsible for “nearly 100 percent” of the company’s growth. In Q1, Pinterest’s AI-powered formula drew in almost 480 million people. Continue reading Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Snap Introduces Augmented Reality Spectacles for Creators

During last week’s Snap Partner Summit 2021, Snap showcased Spectacles, a new augmented reality version of its glasses that is not yet commercially available. Instead, the goal is to inspire creators to design new augmented reality experiences, with the aim of capitalizing on e-commerce. The company also updated the Scan feature, which, in concert with partners, allows use of the camera to identify everything from plants to dog breeds and car models. Chief executive Evan Spiegel said the moves are “a meaningful step forward in our platform strategy.” Continue reading Snap Introduces Augmented Reality Spectacles for Creators

Intel Plans to Build Semiconductor Fabs to Reverse Shortage

New Intel chief executive officer Pat Gelsinger stated that it will take “at least several months” to “ease the strain” of the current global chip shortage, which is impacting an array of industries. In a “60 Minutes” interview, Gelsinger added that it would take “a couple of years” to catch up to demand that was amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent increased sales of electronics. He added that U.S. companies produce a mere 12 percent of the world’s semiconductor chips, down from 37 percent 25 years ago. Continue reading Intel Plans to Build Semiconductor Fabs to Reverse Shortage

Facebook, Apple, Niantic Develop AR Glasses for Consumers

New augmented reality glasses intended for consumers are on the horizon. Facebook plans to release a version in partnership with EssilorLuxottica’s Ray-Ban brand and is developing AR glasses that work with sensor-enabled wristbands. Meanwhile, Niantic and Qualcomm have teamed to manufacture AR glasses, and Apple is working on an AR headset for consumers, to be followed by AR glasses. Snap is also developing AR glasses aimed at consumers. Google, which debuted Google Glass in 2013, is also said to be planning another attempt at the consumer market. Continue reading Facebook, Apple, Niantic Develop AR Glasses for Consumers

Huawei Feels Pinch of U.S. Sanctions, Ericsson Contests Ban

Huawei Technologies’ revenue in 2020 Q4 dropped 11.2 percent to 220.1 billion yuan (about $33.6 billion) from a year earlier. For 2020, revenue grew 3.8 percent to a record-breaking 891.4 billion yuan, but the Q4 drop represents how U.S. sanctions inked in September have made it difficult for Huawei to source advanced chips. Huawei revealed it was one of its slowest years ever for revenue growth. Swedish company Ericsson has been the biggest beneficiary, now surpassing Huawei’s cellular equipment sales. However, the company is defending Huawei, citing the importance of free trade. Continue reading Huawei Feels Pinch of U.S. Sanctions, Ericsson Contests Ban

China’s Five-Year Plan to Build Domestic Chip Manufacturing

China has a five-year plan to dominate the semiconductor industry by building up the domestic industry while fending off U.S. blacklists. The details of the plan won’t be released for a long time, but clues have been dropped by government officials, think tanks and official publications. Over the next five years, China plans to make do with existing semiconductors while it focuses on third generation chipmaking, a nascent field that no one yet dominates, by creating local companies for relevant software and hardware. Continue reading China’s Five-Year Plan to Build Domestic Chip Manufacturing

Chip Shortage Affects Electronics, Gaming, Vehicles, Aviation

Qualcomm chief executive Cristiano Amon has announced a serious shortage of semiconductor chips impacting a range of industries. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers of electronics and vehicles first drastically cut back their demand for chips but then reversed course and demand skyrocketed. Amon is just one of several industry leaders warning of the shortages and highlighting manufacturers’ reliance on outsourcing chip production to companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung Electronics. Continue reading Chip Shortage Affects Electronics, Gaming, Vehicles, Aviation

Samsung Looking to Launch Chip Manufacturing Plant in U.S.

Samsung Electronics may build an up-to-$17 billion chip manufacturing plant in Arizona, Texas or New York, according to sources, and is reportedly scouting two locations in the Phoenix area, two locations in the Austin vicinity and an industrial campus in New York’s Genesee County. The decision to build in the U.S. hinges on the availability of federal government incentives to balance out cheaper costs and government incentives elsewhere. Samsung’s plant would employ up to 1,900 people and open by October 2022. Continue reading Samsung Looking to Launch Chip Manufacturing Plant in U.S.

CES: Rollable Tech Helps Mobile Devices Change Dimensions

During CES 2021, LG provided a peek into its LG Rollable, the company’s first phone that transforms between smartphone and tablet form factors. One company executive said the LG Rollable — positioned as a strong alternative to existing foldable phones — will debut sometime this year. Meanwhile, TCL is developing a device based on the same approach, but the company reported it is only at the conceptual planning stage. But both LG and TCL did leak some information about the upcoming devices’ specifications. Continue reading CES: Rollable Tech Helps Mobile Devices Change Dimensions

Wi-Fi 6E Certification Program Paves the Way for New Devices

The Wi-Fi Alliance began its Wi-Fi 6E certification program for devices built to transmit signals on the newly launched 6GHz band. Introduced just before CES 2021, the program comes in time to certify next-generation devices that can take advantage of the fastest speeds ever available with Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi 6, which began its rollout in 2019, adds access to the 6GHz band after the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to open it for unlicensed use. Until now, Wi-Fi use has relied on 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Continue reading Wi-Fi 6E Certification Program Paves the Way for New Devices

Huawei, Apple Drop in Rankings of Top Global Phone Makers

After attaining a position as No. 1 in global smartphone shipments in Q2, Huawei Technologies ceded that position to Samsung Electronics in Q3, according to International Data Corporation. IDC added that Huawei’s global shipments fell by 22 percent, a sign that U.S. efforts to disrupt its supply chain are having an impact. All vendors without a license from the U.S. Commerce Department have been banned from selling chips and other components to Huawei since September 15. Huawei’s domestic sales also fell 15+ percent in Q3. Continue reading Huawei, Apple Drop in Rankings of Top Global Phone Makers

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