AMC Invests $20M in Dreamscape, Plans to Open VR Centers

AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest theater chain, just invested $20 million in Dreamscape Immersive, a company that has been developing a virtual-reality multiplex for the last year-and-a-half for rollout in the U.S. and U.K. Other investors include Steven Spielberg, 21st Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. Dreamscape’s team includes former chief of Disney’s theme park design, a “Men in Black” series producer, and a live event bigwig. With AMC’s investment, Dreamscape has amassed $40 million. Continue reading AMC Invests $20M in Dreamscape, Plans to Open VR Centers

Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Equifax’s two cyber breaches, which exposed about 143 million Americans’ personal information, were the work of hackers who took advantage of a flaw in Apache Struts software. The nonprofit Apache Software Foundation and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned of the bug in early March, but Equifax only alerted its end users on September 7, almost five months later. IT experts say the event highlights the challenges in keeping software current and identifying all potentially vulnerable applications. Continue reading Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

The technology underlying Bitcoin is now under development to render 3D visual effects. Los Angeles-based OTOY, which provides a GPU-based software system to create a cloud-based pipeline for 3D content, is hoping to raise as much as $134 million to develop RNDR, distributed cloud rendering for VR and other content, via blockchain technology. HBO and Discovery have invested in OTOY, which has also partnered with Facebook and Mattel. Relying on cloud-based GPUs for rendering is a much less expensive solution than supercomputers. Continue reading OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

GameMine Inks Distribution Partnership With Mobile Carriers

Los Angeles-based GameMine has inked distribution partnerships with five international mobile carriers, enabling direct billing of game subscriptions through mobile plans. With the partnerships, the carriers’ subscribers will have access to GameMine’s more than 400 games, all of them unlocked, ad-free and available for iOS and Android devices. Among the involved carriers are Movistar in Spain, Orange in Egypt, and TIM, Vodafone and Wind Tre in Italy, with a combined mobile subscribership of more than 150 million people. Continue reading GameMine Inks Distribution Partnership With Mobile Carriers

Nvidia Integrates Computer Graphics and Artificial Intelligence

At this week’s SIGGRAPH 2017 conference in Los Angeles, Nvidia showed off a variety of technologies connecting graphics and artificial intelligence, delivering 10 research papers relevant to the company’s developers, including an AI-empowered method to create realistic facial animations. The company also showed off its Isaac robots, which vet AI algorithms inside its Project Holodeck virtual environment. By doing so, the robots will be able to learn inside a virtual space for collaboration, minimizing the potential of causing problems in the real world. Continue reading Nvidia Integrates Computer Graphics and Artificial Intelligence

Mira’s $99 Prism Turns Apple’s iPhone Into an AR Headset

For Apple iPhone users looking forward to augmented reality, there will soon be another option to looking at images on the phone’s screen. Due to launch later this year, the Mira Prism, which looks like a sun visor or welder’s mask that fits over the user’s head, will reflect AR’s 3D images in front of the user’s face — and only costs $99. The visor comes from Los Angeles-based company Mira, founded by students from the inaugural class of USC’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. Continue reading Mira’s $99 Prism Turns Apple’s iPhone Into an AR Headset

FoxNext Pursues Mobile Gaming With Aftershock Purchase

FoxNext — the gaming, VR and theme park division of 21st Century Fox — is making a move into mobile games with its purchase of Aftershock, a mobile games spinoff of Vancouver-based Kabam, itself purchased by South Korean gaming company Netmarble. With studios in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Aftershock is developing a massive multiplayer mobile strategy game around the blockbuster movie “Avatar” in partnership with director James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox. Aftershock reportedly has two other game titles in development. Continue reading FoxNext Pursues Mobile Gaming With Aftershock Purchase

Augmented World Expo: ETC Presents the Dark Side of AR

The ETC@USC’s Phil Lelyveld gave a presentation on the dark side of AR at Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara on Friday. His goal was to raise awareness of some fundamental issues now, before there is resistance to change from established AR and VR business models. Phil began by describing how the AR and VR landscape is integrally linked to the Internet of Things (it feeds data to the AR/VR experience), artificial intelligence (it will shape the end-user experience and avatar behavior), and to a lesser degree, robotics (the relatable face of the AI). Continue reading Augmented World Expo: ETC Presents the Dark Side of AR

NAB 2017: 360 Designs Debuts 4K Live Streaming VR Drone

At NAB 2017, 360 Designs, newly located in Los Angeles, debuted its Flying EYE 4K live streaming VR drone, which links with its Breeze wireless transmission unit. Founder/chief executive Alx Klive reports that the system is available for order now, but will not ship for two months. Priced at $75,000, Flying EYE and Breeze are attracting the attention of aerial photography companies, broadcasters, automotive companies, VR production companies and, interestingly enough, other drone manufacturers. Continue reading NAB 2017: 360 Designs Debuts 4K Live Streaming VR Drone

Amazon’s Free Shipping Casts Shadow Over Smaller Retailers

As Amazon rapidly expands its free shipping, retailers are struggling to compete, looking to a range of fulfillment companies to help offer faster, less expensive delivery options. Amazon Prime provides two-day shipping on millions of items found on its site. Shipping companies such as FedEx, threatened by Amazon’s reach, have targeted smaller businesses, from startups to midsized national chains, that can’t compete with Amazon, Walmart and other big retailers spending billlions of dollars to speed-up delivery. Continue reading Amazon’s Free Shipping Casts Shadow Over Smaller Retailers

BitTorrent Adds New Chief Exec, Aims to Spinoff Live Service

BitTorrent is going through some changes: according to sources, founder Bram Cohen is turning his efforts to a new crypto-currency project, Rogelio Choy is taking over the chief executive position from Dipak Joshi, and plans are afoot to turn the BitTorrent Live service into a separate, venture-funded company. Joshi, who came on board as interim chief executive after BitTorrent fired its co-chief executives in October, will continue to work as its chief financial officer, a role he’s held since 2014. Continue reading BitTorrent Adds New Chief Exec, Aims to Spinoff Live Service

Jam City Invests in Mobile Gaming Future with Two New Hires

Los Angeles-based mobile game company Jam City (formerly SGN Games) has hired AI expert Rami Safadi and experimental psychologist Lisa Spano to lead a new research and development team. Both hires will be focused on consumer insights and leveraging data to create new gaming experiences. Safadi believes artificial intelligence will play an integral role in gaming innovation. Jam City’s hires are part of a new phase of development after its initial success, including six of the highest-grossing games in the U.S. Continue reading Jam City Invests in Mobile Gaming Future with Two New Hires

The VOID, IMAX Pioneer Successful Virtual Reality Experiences

The VOID, a VR startup newly headed by former Lucasfilm manager Cliff Plumer, is earning accolades as an experience that could jump-start mass acceptance of the new entertainment medium. For The VOID, the user dons an untethered VR headset, a vest outfitted with haptic sensors and small backpack, picks up a plastic gun, and enters interconnected rooms to play a 10-minute “Ghostbusters” adventure zapping apparitions. The first IMAX VR Experience Centre also recently opened in Los Angeles, with more to come. Continue reading The VOID, IMAX Pioneer Successful Virtual Reality Experiences

Dreamscape Raises $11 Million to Fund Retail VR Experiences

Dreamscape Immersive has raised $11 million to push forward its goal of opening a VR storefront at a Los Angeles shopping center. Investors include director Steven Spielberg, three Hollywood studios (Warner Bros., 21st Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), IMAX, venture capital firm Bold Capital Partners and mall chain Westfield Corp. Dreamscape co-chairman and former DreamWorks motion picture chief exec Walter Parkes says the VR content will include original experiences and others tied to movies. Continue reading Dreamscape Raises $11 Million to Fund Retail VR Experiences

Beyond the Headlines: This Year’s Outliers of Interest at CES

If you look hard enough, CES is often the place to discover smaller, less publicized technologies and products that could become the seeds for something practical and useful to the ETC member companies. This year I came across several that fit this description, including a technology called SynTouch that could prove beneficial to haptic feedback R&D and physical product quality control, a simple and elegant method from ManoMotion to use hand gestures as a user interface, an OLED necklace that could lead to the launch of a social e-collectible marketplace, and a tiny chip from Chirp Microsystems that could provide a compelling motion capture solution. Continue reading Beyond the Headlines: This Year’s Outliers of Interest at CES

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