Intel Leads Investment Round in IRIS.TV Video Data Platform

Intel’s investment division Intel Capital led a new $18 million Series B investment round in IRIS.TV, a data technology company that offers an alternative to cookies and third-party identifiers. IRIS.TV, founded in 2013, analyzes the topics of individual videos of any kind or length, providing information for advertisers on contextual relevance rather than the viewer’s personal data. IRIS.TV’s tech works on videos on mobile phones and computers and, notably, for content on streaming television apps. Continue reading Intel Leads Investment Round in IRIS.TV Video Data Platform

Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Audio streaming service Spotify unveiled a voice assistant with the wake phrase “Hey Spotify” on Android and iOS. Unlike other voice assistants, the app must be open to work; it will play a song, pull up a playlist and tune into a radio station as well as skip and pause. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong reported that the mobile version of the feature has been in the works for at least a year. It is enabled via the “settings” button in the Spotify app where the user turns on “voice interactions.” Spotify is now facing privacy questions. Continue reading Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Smartphone Pioneer LG to Shutter Its Mobile Division in July

LG is shutting down its mobile business on July 31. The company announced that, “moving forward LG will continue to leverage its mobile expertise and develop mobility-related technologies such as 6G to help further strengthen competitiveness in other business areas.” Its current mobile phones are still for sale and LG said it will provide support and software updates “for a period of time which will vary by region.” LG just put out an inexpensive 5G phone with the $400 K92, but its global market share dipped to 1.7 percent. Continue reading Smartphone Pioneer LG to Shutter Its Mobile Division in July

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

Google Alliance to Speed Up Launch of Digital Wallets, Keys

Google recently formed the Android Ready SE Alliance with the goal of enabling the speedier distribution of Secure Element (SE) technology for digital wallets and digital car and home keys among other products. In Google’s Pixel phones, the SE is a Titan M chip which, separate from the phone’s processor, stores encryption keys and validates the operating system. The Android Ready SE Alliance’s device manufacturers and SE sellers hope to speed up the timeline to bring a variety of these digital products to market.

Continue reading Google Alliance to Speed Up Launch of Digital Wallets, Keys

ETC Publishes its Perspective on Consumer Electronics Show

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) set “the global stage for innovation” in an all-digital format when CES 2021 opened its four-day run in January. The annual confab shaped up less as a showcase for breakthrough future technology and more as a bellwether for a world massively altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, instead of key product trends to define our media and entertainment industry focus, the ETC@USC team emphasized four dynamics to drive much of the discussion: Adaptation, Change, Snapback and Opportunity. For an examination of these themes, ETC’s CES report is now available online. Continue reading ETC Publishes its Perspective on Consumer Electronics Show

Treasury Department May Put an End to Location Data Sales

The U.S. military, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are reportedly among the agencies that have been buying citizens’ location data from commercial services. Now, a Treasury Department inspector general report has indicated that this practice is illegal without first obtaining a warrant. The agencies in question say they are buying commercially available data from those who have consented to having their data collected. Continue reading Treasury Department May Put an End to Location Data Sales

France Establishes Repairability Index for Electronic Devices

France has pioneered a new “repairability index” for all electronic devices sold in that country. The criteria for the final score include how easy it is to take the device apart, availability of spare parts and technical documentation. The index will be implemented, with fines for non-compliance, beginning next year. This move is part of France’s stated goal to fight planned obsolescence, as manufacturers intentionally create products that need to be replaced frequently. Fighting such obsolescence reduces waste and France’s effort may serve as a model for other countries. Continue reading France Establishes Repairability Index for Electronic Devices

Huawei Appeals FCC Edict Naming It a National Security Risk

Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications company, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit asking for a review of last year’s FCC ruling that found it a national security risk. As a result of the FCC’s ruling, U.S. telecommunications operators were blocked from buying Huawei’s 5G equipment. Huawei has previously challenged numerous actions taken against it in recent years. The Trump administration blocked Huawei from accessing U.S. technology and encouraged allies to do the same. Continue reading Huawei Appeals FCC Edict Naming It a National Security Risk

Linux Foundation to Host Open-Source Magma Project for 5G

In 2019, Facebook developed open-source network software Magma to help in the speedy, efficient buildout of mobile networks. Now Magma is poised to bring together the software and hardware sides of 5G. Magma provides a software-centric distributed mobile packet core and tools for automating network management that integrates with the existing back end of a mobile network. Importantly, it also meshes with new 5G networks as well as existing LTE networks, which makes it easier to enhance and build mobile networks at scale. The Linux Foundation will now work with groups to host the next stage of Magma’s evolution using a vendor-neutral governance framework. Continue reading Linux Foundation to Host Open-Source Magma Project for 5G

New Meta-Optic Lens Tech Enters Commercial Development

Massachusetts-based startup Metalenz, just out of stealth mode, is readying the debut of an entirely new lens system for smartphones. Its single flat lens system, based on optical metasurfaces, reportedly produces an image of the same or better quality as traditional lenses, while enabling brighter photos by collecting more light, and offering new forms of sensing. The company just announced a $10 million investment that will enable it to scale production and speed up development of miniature optics and a new lens system targeting smartphones, consumer electronics and applications in the automotive and healthcare industries. Continue reading New Meta-Optic Lens Tech Enters Commercial Development

Google Shutters Stadia’s Video Game Development Division

Google is shutting down the Stadia division that makes exclusive games in order to “focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships,” said Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison. He added that the plan is to expand “efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players.” Alphabet debuted Stadia in November 2019 to compete with major video game console companies. Continue reading Google Shutters Stadia’s Video Game Development Division

Apple Reports Record-Breaking Profits for Fiscal First Quarter

In its first fiscal quarter, ending December 2020, Apple earned record-breaking profits with $111.4 billion in sales driven by high-end iPhone sales and a pandemic-related demand for laptops and tablets. Investors are worried if high-flying companies including Tesla and Facebook can sustain rapid growth. Tesla posted a sixth straight quarter of profits and Facebook also reported record net income. But Apple’s strong numbers came under attack from Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who sees the company as a rival. Continue reading Apple Reports Record-Breaking Profits for Fiscal First Quarter

Municipalities Want Streaming Services to Pay Franchise Fees

As streaming media services increasingly resemble cable bundles, more towns and counties are looking to regulate them. In Georgia for example, three municipalities filed a federal lawsuit against Netflix, Hulu and other services for as much as 5 percent of their gross revenue in an attempt to treat them as cable services. According to the lawsuit, Netflix earned about $103 million over the recent five years from subscribers in Gwinnett County, Georgia. If treated as a cable provider, that would represent $5.15 million in retroactive fees. Continue reading Municipalities Want Streaming Services to Pay Franchise Fees

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

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