Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. federal government, via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local governments, is receiving analyses of people’s movements — based on location data from millions of mobile phones — in “certain areas of geographic interest.” The data, provided by the mobile advertising industry, is being used to understand how such movements may be impacting the spread of coronavirus. MIT researchers are also debuting a project to track COVID-19 patients via a phone app. Continue reading Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

In Europe, Some Film/TV Industries Tweak Release Windows

The film industries in Italy, France and Spain — European countries the hardest hit by the coronavirus — are enduring tough times, with the postponement of dozens of film releases. More worrisome is the future prospects of theaters in markets where indie distributors already contend with the dominance of U.S. content. In France, for example, Hollywood movies accounted for 59 percent of its 213 million theater admissions in 2019. One potential solution is to stream or air indie films on-demand. Continue reading In Europe, Some Film/TV Industries Tweak Release Windows

Video Game Usage Soaring as People Are Confined to Home

In the wake of the coronavirus and subsequent school closures and remote working policies, more Americans are gaming than ever before. According to third-party database SteamDB, Steam — the most popular PC gaming marketplace — drew a record-breaking 20,313,451 concurrent users. The top game was “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” released by Valve in 2012, which broke its own peak numbers on Sunday with 1,023,2290 concurrent players. Verizon also reported that game traffic soared 75 percent from the previous week. Continue reading Video Game Usage Soaring as People Are Confined to Home

Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

As more companies ask employees to work from home due to the global spread of the coronavirus, Google, Microsoft and Zoom have responded by providing their workplace software for free. Microsoft’s Teams saw a 500 percent increase in meetings, calls and conference usage in China since the end of January, and demand is rising in the U.S. as work-from-home policies are instituted. Many Microsoft employees have been instructed to work from home and, last week, their Teams chat volume rose 50 percent, with video/audio meetings up 37 percent from a week earlier. Continue reading Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

CES 2020: Holiday Smart Lights Have Multiple Applications

The Internet of Things is about to offer middle America a new creative outlet. Italian startup LEDWORKS produces strings of individually addressable LED Christmas tree lights. Twinkly’s phone app maps the location of each individual light: one camera scan to map lights arrayed on a flat surface and two or three camera scans to map the lights arrayed around a 3D object like a Christmas tree or a wall outside. The app can then wirelessly load a program into the lights’ plug to display preset patterns and images or, if you are clever, patterns of your design. The current app can control up to 10,000 lights. By the end of 2020, Twinkly should be able to control 20,000 lights. Continue reading CES 2020: Holiday Smart Lights Have Multiple Applications

CES 2020: Two Startups Debut Object Detection Solutions

The ETC team found two interesting object detection startups at CES’s Eureka Park: Italian company ARIA Sensing, which claims to manufacture “the world’s smallest UWB [Ultra-Wideband] radar” for offering “unparalleled detection performances” — and French startup Ingenious Things, which is promoting what it describes as “the first IoT tracker for less than $1.” ARIA Sensing has developed a 13mm x 15mm postage stamp size chip that is able to detect small movements, gestures and even breathing at distances up to 10 meters. The $1 Stick Trackr by Ingenious Things is less than 5mm thick and can operate for up to three months before it needs a new battery. Continue reading CES 2020: Two Startups Debut Object Detection Solutions

Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Facebook’s Instagram began testing a new approach with users in Canada two months ago and this week expanded its efforts to include users in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The experiment removes emphasis on the “Like” feature to minimize the pressure to compete, while hopefully creating a more personal and enjoyable experience. Users are still able to see who liked other people’s posts or watched their videos, but there is no longer a running tally of the number of likes and views (however, users can still privately see the counts for their own posts). Continue reading Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Spotify Expands Ad Options by Targeting Podcast Listeners

Spotify, which now has 123 million worldwide users of its ad-supported audio service, is expanding its podcast business by offering advertisers the ability to target consumers based on the types of podcast programs they are streaming. Brands across 10 global markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom and United States) will have the option of targeting Spotify Free users based on podcast categories such as “Business & Technology,” “Comedy” and “Lifestyle & Health.” 3M and Samsung have been testing the new ad-targeting tool. Continue reading Spotify Expands Ad Options by Targeting Podcast Listeners

U.S. Improves Lead in 5G Race, Lags in Mid-Band Allocation

According to the wireless industry association CTIA, the global 5G race has shifted from a year ago when China and South Korea were the leaders. Thanks to the actions of U.S. carriers and government officials, U.S. has passed South Korea and tied with China as one of the top countries excelling in categories from readiness to actual deployments and spectrum allocation. CTIA stressed, however, that two obstacles remain unresolved: mid-band spectrum and a national strategy for transitioning to the next-gen mobile standard. Continue reading U.S. Improves Lead in 5G Race, Lags in Mid-Band Allocation

IBM Rolls Out Its First Commercial Quantum Computer at CES

During CES last week, IBM announced the IBM Q System One, the company’s first foray into commercial quantum computing outside of the lab. The 20-qubit IBM Q system combines quantum and classical computing intended for a range of business and research applications. According to IBM, these new systems are “designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle.” The systems are also said to be upgradeable and easy to maintain. Continue reading IBM Rolls Out Its First Commercial Quantum Computer at CES

Europe Plans to Create Smarter, Energy-Efficient Electronics

The European Union is looking to take on China’s tech dominance by approving up to $9.1 billion in public and private funding that would enable France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom to conduct research in microelectronics. The funding would help companies and research centers work together on developing advanced sensors and microchips, with an emphasis on smarter, more energy-efficient components. The decision coincides with the EU’s efforts to limit foreign investments and restrict business with Chinese tech companies such as Huawei. Continue reading Europe Plans to Create Smarter, Energy-Efficient Electronics

Federal Government Takes Additional Steps to Block Huawei

The U.S. government is reportedly pushing for foreign allies to stop using hardware from China-based Huawei Technologies Co. According to people familiar with the initiative, the government is aiming to convince wireless and Internet service providers to avoid telecom equipment that comes from Huawei in an effort to increase security. Washington officials are particularly concerned about countries that host military bases. The U.S. and Australia already have bans in place to curb the risk of cyberattacks. Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications provider. Continue reading Federal Government Takes Additional Steps to Block Huawei

Netflix Will Continue Broadcast Partnerships, Remain Ad-Free

Maria Ferreras, Netflix VP of business development for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), explained that Netflix will not discontinue its broadcast partnerships in which it takes global rights outside a production’s territory of origin. Speaking at the IBC Conference in Amsterdam, Ferreras pointed to a production in partnership with the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 as an example. U.K. producers have been concerned that Netflix would cease these partnerships as it gets deeper into local production. The company also reiterated it would not run ads on its streaming service. Continue reading Netflix Will Continue Broadcast Partnerships, Remain Ad-Free

New YouTube Premium and Music Services Go International

On Monday, YouTube increased international distribution of YouTube Premium, with its streaming hit “Cobra Kai” and other original content — and YouTube Music, with the Beatles’ album catalog. Both services have been available in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea, and the move represents a major push into international territories. YouTube Music, which is offered as an ad-supported free service or as the subscription-based Music Premium, is now available in both forms in the U.K. Continue reading New YouTube Premium and Music Services Go International

European Broadcasters Partner to Fend Off Amazon, Netflix

Spain’s three major broadcasters — state-run RTVE and privately run Mediaset España and Atresmedia — are joining forces to launch LovesTV, an 18-channel streaming platform featuring programs from all of them. This paradigm is also taking place in the U.K., France, Germany and Italy, as competitors join forces to co-produce programs or stream programs online. It’s a strategy to fend off Netflix, Amazon and HBO, all of which are increasing their budgets to offer streaming programming for European audiences. Continue reading European Broadcasters Partner to Fend Off Amazon, Netflix

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