Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Amazon released its annual Holiday Toy Guide featuring more than 1,700 “curated” items. In order to be considered for a spot in the well-regarded guide, Amazon charges toy companies millions of dollars, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. Amazon sells “Holiday Toy List” sponsorships for up to $2 million, and “the more sponsors pay, the more products they can nominate to be on the list and the more prominently their own products will be featured on the popular website.” Amazon’s summer toy list charged lower rates.

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Congress Passes Bill Intended to Boost Quantum Computing

Congress passed a bill that aims to speed up the development of quantum computing in the United States. The technology is anticipated to revolutionize cybersecurity among other areas. The House approved the bill in a 348-11 vote. President Trump is expected to sign it into law, since quantum computing has been a priority of his administration. China has been focused on the technology and plans to open a laboratory in 2020. With the new bill, U.S. legislators hope to push efforts to keep up with or surpass rivals. Continue reading Congress Passes Bill Intended to Boost Quantum Computing

GlobalFoundries Will Not Build Factory for 7-Nanometer Chips

Building a new chip manufacturing plant is expensive, usually costing between $10 billion and $15 billion. GlobalFoundries has now opted out of building a cutting edge fabrication plant for 7-nanometer chips, indicating it plans to focus its attention on older 12-nanometer and 14-nanometer factories, which would require less investment. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) said it would switch from GlobalFoundries to Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) for its latest chips. With the GlobalFoundries move, only TSMC, Intel and Samsung are left to build the new 7-nanometer factories. Continue reading GlobalFoundries Will Not Build Factory for 7-Nanometer Chips

New App for Manufacturing Workers Adds AI to Google Glass

At this week’s Google Cloud Next conference, Israeli company Plataine demonstrated a new app for Google Glass, pointing to artificial intelligence as the technology that will drive the success of the spectacles. The easy-to-use app, which is aimed at factory workers, understands and replies in spoken language. Plataine’s clients already include Airbus, Boeing and GE, and the company is now working on adding image recognition capabilities to the app, which was built using Google Cloud AI services and support from the tech giant. Continue reading New App for Manufacturing Workers Adds AI to Google Glass

Survey Analyzes Benefits of Mixed Reality in the Workplace

The business uses of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) have so far been impressive. Now, a survey conducted by Microsoft with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, found that 68 percent of 394 executives said MR is important to achieving their companies’ goals in the next 18 months. Those surveyed worked in companies employing over 250 people, in a wide range of industries including engineering, construction, manufacturing, retail, defense and education. Continue reading Survey Analyzes Benefits of Mixed Reality in the Workplace

Foxconn Selects Wisconsin for North American Headquarters

Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group announced that it has acquired a seven-story building in downtown Milwaukee that will serve as the company’s North American corporate headquarters. The new facility will employ 500 people and also house an innovation center that will focus on display technology. Foxconn, which purchased the downtown building from Northwestern Mutual, is additionally planning a major manufacturing complex about 30 miles south of Milwaukee in Racine County, expected to open in 2020. Continue reading Foxconn Selects Wisconsin for North American Headquarters

ZTE Ceases Main Operations in Response to U.S. Sanctions

Chinese telecom equipment and systems company ZTE, which has about $17 billion in annual revenue, has ceased “major operating activities” in the wake of the Trump administration’s ban on it using U.S.-made components for the next seven years. Trading in its shares has been suspended for weeks, and its workers in the Shenzhen factory have little to do but attend occasional training sessions. New guidelines tell its staff to reassure clients, but not discuss the details of the U.S. technology the company is currently banned from using. Continue reading ZTE Ceases Main Operations in Response to U.S. Sanctions

Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

The EarthNow project, which plans to launch 500 small satellites to provide video coverage of the world, now has three notable investors: Airbus, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and SoftBank Group chief executive Masayoshi Son. Satellite entrepreneur Greg Wyler, who has also partnered with Airbus and SoftBank on OneWeb, another satellite Internet project, is a fourth investor. Project chief executive Russell Hannigan says EarthNow will cost more than $1 billion, but didn’t reveal tech details or a launch date. Continue reading Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

Revealed: For First Time, Apple Developing Its Own Screens

With the promise of making devices brighter, thinner and less demanding of battery power, MicroLED displays use different compounds than today’s widely used OLED displays. According to sources familiar with the situation, Apple is currently developing its own MicroLED displays, in secret, at a manufacturing facility near its headquarters in California. The company is producing only small numbers of the displays for testing, and it marks the first time Apple has developed its own screens.

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Facebook Complies With GDPR, U.K. Warns Firms Not Ready

At an event in Brussels this week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced that the social platform plans to introduce major privacy changes later this year. Facebook will roll out a global privacy settings hub for individuals to manage their data as part of an effort to comply with the European Union’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), “which aims to simplify data protection laws and provide citizens across all member states with more control over their personal data,” reports ZDNet. Meanwhile, the U.K. government has issued “a warning over businesses’ lack of preparation for the change.” Continue reading Facebook Complies With GDPR, U.K. Warns Firms Not Ready

With New Tax Legislation, Apple to Repatriate $252B in Cash

Apple plans to leverage the recently passed tax legislation, said to be the most important in 30 years, by bringing $350 billion back to the United States over the next five years. Of that, $252 billion in cash was held abroad; Apple keeps 94 percent of its total cash outside the U.S. A provision in the new tax code allows a one-time repatriation of corporate cash held in other countries. The move is consistent with Apple’s long-time stance that it wouldn’t bring the cash back until the tax code changed. Continue reading With New Tax Legislation, Apple to Repatriate $252B in Cash

Amazon Acquires 3D Body-Scanning Tech Startup Body Labs

Amazon has acquired 3D body-model startup Body Labs for a reported $50-$70 million, although some sources say the figure could exceed $100 million. New York-based Body Labs specializes in true-to-life 3D models that are ideal for B2B software applications, including the creation of photorealistic avatars for gaming and virtual approaches for consumers to try on clothing. The latter should be of particular interest to e-commerce giant Amazon. The online retailer could use the scanning and modeling tech to help shoppers select fashion purchases ideal for their body types. Continue reading Amazon Acquires 3D Body-Scanning Tech Startup Body Labs

Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Microsoft is developing a chip designed specifically for artificial intelligence processing. A version of its Holographic Processing Unit, used for its HoloLens headset, the new chip will be integrated with the next version of HoloLens, to be launched at an as-of-yet undetermined date. Microsoft isn’t alone in taking chip manufacturing in-house, especially with regards to AI processing. Apple’s iPhone prototypes include the company’s AI-specific chip, and Google is working on its own second-generation AI chip. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Foxconn to Build Flat Panel Factory and Make Advanced LCDs

Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn Technology Group, announced plans to build an $8.8 billion flat panel TV factory in Guangzhou, China, where the Taiwanese company will manufacture advanced liquid-crystal displays with tech from Sharp Corp. (Foxconn acquired the Japanese electronics brand in 2016). The investment “will be made by Sakai Display Products Corp., which is mostly owned by Gou personally,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Gou has sometimes taken on riskier investments for Foxconn under his personal portfolio, saying it was safer for Foxconn shareholders. The new Guangzhou facility is expected to begin production of 10.5-generation 8K displays, smart TVs and electronic whiteboards in 2019.” Continue reading Foxconn to Build Flat Panel Factory and Make Advanced LCDs

Cloud Services Spending to Reach $195 Billion in Four Years

International Data Corporation (IDC) projects that global revenue from public cloud services will surpass $195 billion by 2020, more than doubling this year’s forecast of $96.5 billion. The new figures, part of IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Spending Guide, represent a compound annual growth rate of 20.4 percent over 2015-2020. Also, IDC expects that revenue from Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service will increase at a faster rate than revenue from Software as a Service. Media, telecom and retail will experience the fastest revenue growth. Continue reading Cloud Services Spending to Reach $195 Billion in Four Years

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