House Passes Two Bills in Effort to Foster Scientific Research

In a bipartisan vote, the House passed two bills this week designed to boost U.S. research and development programs. The bills are the House’s response to the Senate’s passage of the Endless Frontier Act that puts significant federal funds into emerging technologies with the aim of competing with China. Instead, the bills passed by the House double the amount of money over the next five years for research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and provides a 7 percent increase for the Energy Department’s Office of Science. Continue reading House Passes Two Bills in Effort to Foster Scientific Research

Senate Passes $250 Billion Bill to Foster Manufacturing, Tech

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill in a 63-32 vote this week that allocates $250 billion for technology R&D to counter foreign competition, primarily from China. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) intends to boost research investment, build semiconductor manufacturing capacity and focus on AI development. The National Science Foundation (NSF) will also play a more significant role. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) stated the bill is “about investing in that innovation economy of the future.” It still needs to pass the House. Continue reading Senate Passes $250 Billion Bill to Foster Manufacturing, Tech

New Google Chip Streamlines Video Transcoding on YouTube

Google’s YouTube infrastructure team has built a Video (trans)Coding Unit (VCU) to streamline the transcoding of videos into the many versions required for a bandwidth-efficient and profitable website. Google software engineer Jeff Calow said the Argos chip offers “up to 20-33x improvements in compute efficiency compared to our previous optimized system, which was running software on traditional servers.” The VCU package is a full-length PCI-E card with two Argos ASIC chips under an aluminum heat sink. Continue reading New Google Chip Streamlines Video Transcoding on YouTube

Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

Facebook’s R&D group NPE Team (New Product Experimentation) debuted the public beta of Hotline, a web-based application that allows creators to speak to an audience that can pose questions via text or audio. The first to try out Hotline was real estate investor Nick Huber who, via a livestream, talked about investing in industrial real estate as a secondary income. NPE Team identified Huber as an ideal Hotline user who would use it to expand professional skills or finances. Hotline is led by Facebook product developer Erik Hazzard. Continue reading Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

Roblox Counting on Older Consumers to Join App, Buy Stock

Roblox, valued last month at $29.5 billion, told prospective investors it is trying to lure older users onto its gaming, concerts and educational platform. Chief executive David Baszucki said the company is counting on older adults not just to join the platform but to buy its stock when it goes public next month. The Apple and Google application has been a top earner during the pandemic, with 2020 revenue jumping 82 percent to $923.9 million and number of hours spent on the platform more than doubling to 30.6 billion. Continue reading Roblox Counting on Older Consumers to Join App, Buy Stock

Biden Administration to Face China’s Push for Tech Hegemony

When president-elect Joe Biden takes office, one challenge he will face is China’s aim to dominate technology. President Trump’s efforts to limit China’s abilities have only partially succeeded and, in fact, may have even accelerated the nation’s development in AI, 5G, biotechnology and chipmaking. China is already ahead of the United States in 5G. Experts say the U.S. should more forcefully confront China on issues including market access, forced technology transfers and human rights. Continue reading Biden Administration to Face China’s Push for Tech Hegemony

U.S.-China Cold War Hits Semiconductor, Telecom Industries

The tech Cold War between the U.S. and China is doing more than disrupting manufacturing: it’s costing a fortune, particularly for the telecommunications and semiconductor industries, in which President Trump has blocked leading companies from both countries from doing business with one another. Chinese companies can no longer do business in the U.S. and U.S. companies are blocked from exporting to Chinese companies. Lost business and the need to replace gear are likely to cost billions of dollars. Continue reading U.S.-China Cold War Hits Semiconductor, Telecom Industries

Huawei Increases Use of Its Own Chips in 5G Base Stations

When the Commerce Department banned U.S. manufacturers from selling chips to China’s Huawei Technologies, that company increased its own chipmaking capacity in its semiconductor company HiSilicon. According to U.S.-based Huawei executive Tim Danks, in Q4 the company shipped more than 50,000 5G base stations embedded with its chips, about 8 percent of all base stations it sold up to February this year. Danks reported that, although Huawei is ramping up HiSilicon efforts, it intends to return to U.S. technology when possible. Continue reading Huawei Increases Use of Its Own Chips in 5G Base Stations

CES 2020: Wooptix Creates 3D Images From a Single Lens

Wooptix approaches the problem of light-field image capture in an interesting way. Using a single camera lens, they capture the same image at multiple depth-of-field settings. They then assemble a 3D version of the captured image by identifying and grabbing the areas of each depth-of-field image that are in focus. The result is a clear, if slightly flat and layered, 3D image with some degree of parallax. The company’s tech could have multiple applications. Continue reading CES 2020: Wooptix Creates 3D Images From a Single Lens

Amazon and Facebook to Lease More Space in Manhattan

Less than a year after Amazon pulled out of a deal to build its second headquarters (HQ2) in Manhattan, it inked a lease for 335,000 square feet in the neighborhood to house more than 1,500 employees. Facebook is also reportedly in talks to lease 700,000 square feet in a nearby neighborhood. If that plan goes through, the social media platform, which has other real estate holdings in the city, would become one of its largest corporate tenants, which include JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Continue reading Amazon and Facebook to Lease More Space in Manhattan

Companies Call on U.S. Government to Up Its AI Investment

The U.S. federal government has come up with $973.5 million for multiple agencies that have requested funding for non-defense-related artificial intelligence pursuits. (Spending on AI for national defense is classified.) This is the first time the government has done so, but numerous industry executives are already saying that it’s not enough to “maintain a competitive edge.” The Trump administration stated that the figures they are putting forward are more transparent than those from China, which aims to dominate AI by 2030. Continue reading Companies Call on U.S. Government to Up Its AI Investment

Companies Test Out Internal Crowdsourcing For Best Ideas

Some companies are changing their model for picking out the best new ideas to develop. In most industries, the typical path of a new product begins in the R&D department and is led by senior staff. But that’s beginning to change, said USC Marshall School of Business chaired professor Ann Majchrzak, who noted that companies are starting to realize that the R&D department “might not be the best predictor of what is a good idea.” Instead, some companies are experimenting with internal crowdsourcing, which lets any employee pitch an idea. Continue reading Companies Test Out Internal Crowdsourcing For Best Ideas

Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

Uber demonstrated the transport of a McDonald’s meal via its Uber Elevate A4200 drone with custom-designed delivery box. The drone was set to fly only half a mile away, but the trip was canceled due to a 26-knot breeze. The demo is still noteworthy as a practical application of the technology. Uber isn’t the only company pinning some of its high-tech hopes on drone delivery. Google already has the greenlight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make similar unmanned commercial deliveries in Virginia, and Amazon also debuted its drone delivery service. Continue reading Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

Senators Press For National Artificial Intelligence Strategy

Several U.S. senators have proposed the Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act to create a national AI strategy and fund federal R&D in this growing area to the tune of $2.2 billion. The initiative’s $2.2 billion would be awarded over a five-year period to multiple federal agencies. At the same time, although the European Commission put out guidelines for artificial intelligence technology, some experts are saying that the tech companies that participated in drafting guidelines compromised them to protect their own interests. Continue reading Senators Press For National Artificial Intelligence Strategy

Hisense’s ULED XD TV Aims to Compete With OLED Tech

Chinese TV manufacturer Hisense just unveiled its ULED XD television, with plans to offer high-end technology at a lower-than-typical price. According to the company’s director of product management Chris Porter, the company puts 5 percent of profits every year into R&D, which has allowed it to develop the set’s proprietary technology — some of which has never been released in the U.S. market. At CES 2019, Hisense showed off the ULED XD, which is essentially comprised of two connected 4K LCD panels, and a proprietary chipset that reportedly offers exceptional deep blacks. Continue reading Hisense’s ULED XD TV Aims to Compete With OLED Tech

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