Thinking About CES: Increasing Computational Sophistication

The entertainment industry has traditionally piggybacked on primary development in other sectors to fuel our own innovative adoption of practical and compelling technologies. History shows that we consistently benefit from numerous advances across industries for reuse or adaption in our key areas ranging from internal communication all the way to distribution of content. As we start compiling our wish lists for emerging standout technologies to be featured at CES 2022 (returning to Las Vegas January 5-8), we anticipate that an expanded computational sophistication of consumer devices will be in the cards. Continue reading Thinking About CES: Increasing Computational Sophistication

Facebook Hits Pause on Instagram App for Users 13 & Under

Facing a Congressional hearing on the potential harmful effects of Instagram on teenage girls, Facebook announced it is pausing work on Instagram Kids, intended for children 13 and under. Facebook says it still plans to build a more age-appropriate Instagram but is holding off in the face of what has become a public relations crisis for the company. “This will give us time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today,” explained Instagram head Adam Mosseri. Continue reading Facebook Hits Pause on Instagram App for Users 13 & Under

Twitter Asks Developers to ID ‘Good Bots’ Using New Badge

Twitter is testing a new feature that allows bots to self-identify with a label on their account profiles. Although the feature will allow users to differentiate automated accounts that perform legitimate services — such as retweeting news, providing customer service, PSAs or community alerts — it will not flag the problematic “bad bots” that spread misinformation and spam. Last year, Twitter requested developers specify if an account was a bot, who was powering it and its intended use. The new automated accounts to designate “good bots” will be issued to more than 500 accounts for testing and feedback before they are made available to all developers. Continue reading Twitter Asks Developers to ID ‘Good Bots’ Using New Badge

Facebook and Ray-Ban Team Up on Next-Gen Smart Glasses

Facebook and Luxottica Group’s luxury sunglass manufacturer Ray-Ban unveiled new smart glasses that enable the user to record via cameras hidden in the frame. The Ray-Ban glasses — priced at $299 — are based on the classic Wayfarer model, with the addition of a very small recording light, two 5-megapixel cameras, three microphones and four gigabytes of storage. The glasses, which will come in 20 style combinations and either clear or prescription lenses, are powered by Facebook technology. Both Facebook and Ray-Ban parent Luxottica stated that, “privacy is built into the product.” Continue reading Facebook and Ray-Ban Team Up on Next-Gen Smart Glasses

Microsoft Acquires Clipchamp as New Tool for Video Creators

Microsoft announced it is acquiring Clipchamp, an in-browser video creation and editing app that can be used on everything from social clips destined for YouTube to promos and business presentations. Combining “the simplicity of a web app with the full computing power of a PC with graphics processing unit acceleration,” Microsoft says Clipchamp is a “natural fit” with the existing cloud-based productivity suite of Microsoft 365 for families, students and business. With a template-driven approach and wide variety of filters, Clipchamp is a prosumer tool that has garnered more than 17 million registered users since launching in 2013. Continue reading Microsoft Acquires Clipchamp as New Tool for Video Creators

Researchers Use Nanotechnology to Shrink Optics for Devices

University of Ottawa researchers have done some groundbreaking work on lenses, using nanotechnology to develop so-called metalenses that dramatically shrink down optics. But lenses still rely on space to produce images and the researchers have presented the concept of an optical “spaceplate” that propagates light for a distance much longer than the plate thickness, enabling future imaging systems to shrink even further. A spaceplate can be used to miniaturize all kinds of devices that manipulate light. “It’s a possibly revolutionary development in the field of optical science,” suggests photography and camera news site PetaPixel. Continue reading Researchers Use Nanotechnology to Shrink Optics for Devices

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

USC Researchers Find Bias in Deepfake Detectors’ Datasets

The advent of deepfakes, which replace a person in a video or photo by likeness of someone else, has sparked concern that the ease of using machine learning tools to create them are readily available to criminals and provocateurs. In response, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft sponsored the Deepfake Detection Challenge, which resulted in several potential tools. But now, researchers at the University of Southern California found that the datasets used to train some of these detection systems demonstrate racial and gender bias. Continue reading USC Researchers Find Bias in Deepfake Detectors’ Datasets

Pinterest to Foster Influencer Content with New Creator Fund

Although image-sharing service Pinterest has been less reliant upon influencer culture than Instagram and other social media platforms, that began to change when it introduced Story Pins and creator profiles. These features were intended to make it easier for high-profile users to build a following and showcase their projects. Now, Pinterest is unveiling a $500,000 Creator Fund to pay a small group of influencers to create content for the platform. With this initiative, it joins TikTok and Snapchat in paying creators. Continue reading Pinterest to Foster Influencer Content with New Creator Fund

Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

A new report from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of U.S. adults use social media, a number that has been stable over the past five years. The survey drilled down into use of a variety of individual sites and apps, finding that YouTube and Facebook still are dominant, with 81 percent and 69 percent respectively of those surveyed reporting using those sites. YouTube and Reddit were the only platforms that saw “statistically significant” growth since 2019. Forty percent said they ever use Instagram. Continue reading Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

CES: Airpeak Drone Designed for Capturing Photos and Video

First announced in November of last year, Sony unveiled a drone at CES 2021 that the company says is the smallest of its kind capable of accommodating a Sony Alpha mirrorless camera for professional photography and producing video projects. While Sony did not reveal pricing or specs, the drone is is said to be shipping sometime this spring. The quadcopter design shown during the all-digital CES featured two landing gear extensions that are designed to retract during flight so they do not get in the way of shooting stills or video. Continue reading CES: Airpeak Drone Designed for Capturing Photos and Video

Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

Twitter is launching Fleets, a feature that allows users to post photos or text that will disappear after 24 hours. Snapchat pioneered the ephemeral post, followed by Instagram and Facebook. Rollout of the Stories-like feature is moving forward, but has been scaled back as Twitter addresses “some performance and stability problems.” The platform’s “global town square” continues to be its “marquee product” but, said Twitter director of design Joshua Harris, the Fleets feature creates a space with less pressure for users who lurk but don’t post. The company is also testing Spaces, a new audio feature similar to Clubhouse, a startup that debuted earlier this year. Continue reading Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Receiving Positive Camera Reviews

The iPhone 12 Pro Max offers a number of firsts for an iPhone: the largest ever display, at 6.7-inches; the biggest camera sensor ever; a 5G radio and a bigger battery. At the same time, it’s not much more expensive than the next level down, an iPhone 12 Pro, with an added $100 for every storage level. The size of the phone — not just the inches but also the heft and weight — might be a downside for some users, but the iPhone 12 also comes with more choices, starting with the compact iPhone 12 Mini. Continue reading Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Receiving Positive Camera Reviews

Apple Clips 3.0: New Interface, Multiple Aspect Ratios, HDR

Three years after Apple released its simple video creation app named Clips, the company is updating the app to Clips 3.0, now available in the App Store. Apple streamlined the interface with the intent of making it faster and easier to add effects. Also new are full-screen browsers on the iPhone to make it easier to record and include effects. Version 3.0 lets video creators access multiple aspect ratios, including vertical and horizontal, to accommodate Instagram Stories, Snapchat, YouTube and other popular platforms. Continue reading Apple Clips 3.0: New Interface, Multiple Aspect Ratios, HDR

Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security

Facebook’s lawyers, relying on research by the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, prepared a 14-page document that lays out its defenses against government threats to force a break from its messaging service WhatsApp and photo- and video-sharing platform Instagram. Congress and other federal antitrust regulators continue to investigate Facebook, as well as Google, Amazon and Apple, and the House Antitrust Subcommittee is expected to release its findings this month. Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 were vetted by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security