Streaming Ads That Play While TVs Are Off a Costly Problem

Some streaming platforms are continuing to stream TV commercials even after viewers turn off their sets, costing brands an estimated $1 billion per year in wasted fees, according to new research. The news comes as streaming gains in popularity and premium services like HBO Max, Disney+ and Netflix dabble in ad-supported streaming tiers. A study by iSpot.tv and GroupM indicates roughly 17 percent of television ads playing through connected streaming devices are playing on a dark TV set, which is possible because when regular TVs are turned off that action isn’t always conveyed through HDMI ports. Continue reading Streaming Ads That Play While TVs Are Off a Costly Problem

Nvidia and Stanford Co-Develop World’s Thinnest VR Headset

In the run-up to SIGGRAPH 2022, August 8-11 at the Vancouver Convention Center, Nvidia is unveiling some splashy designs, including what is described as the world’s thinnest VR glasses (just 2.5mm). Developed in conjunction with Stanford University, the team says the new VR headset can easily be modified to achieve a 120-degree diagonal field-of-view (though the initial prototypes are much narrower in scope). The lightweight glasses provide a true holographic display but can also display flat images. Most current VR headsets achieve depth by converging flat images for a stereoscopic view. Continue reading Nvidia and Stanford Co-Develop World’s Thinnest VR Headset

Study Finds Consumers Embraced Voice Shopping Last Year

Voice shopping over smart devices rose to 45.2 million in 2021, a 120 percent increase in three years, reflecting a 30 percent compound annual growth rate according to Voicebot Research, which tracks use of voice-assisted devices. The analytics firm found that 20.5 million U.S. adults had used voice to shop for a product at least once in 2018. That figure rose to 45.2 million in 2021. However, the firm found that general-use smartphone voice assistants — such as those from Apple (Siri), Amazon (Alexa) and Google — declined 2.8 percent among U.S. adults in 2021. Continue reading Study Finds Consumers Embraced Voice Shopping Last Year

Intel Powers Up EU Chip Plans with $19 Billion German Plant

Intel unveiled plans to invest an initial $19 billion to construct new leading-edge semiconductor fab mega-sites in Magdeburg, Germany; an R&D and design hub in France; and R&D, manufacturing and foundry facilities in Ireland, Italy, Poland and Spain. The plan could see as much as $88 billion invested “along the entire semiconductor value chain” in the EU over the decade, according to the Santa Clara-based chipmaker, which says it wants to introduce a next-generation chip ecosystem while offsetting reliance on Asia for a more “resilient supply chain.” Continue reading Intel Powers Up EU Chip Plans with $19 Billion German Plant

Pinterest Posts Its First Full-Year Profit on Sales of $2 Billion

Pinterest stock spiked in extended trading Thursday after its 2021 earnings results stressed the company’s first full-year of profit, as well as the first year to tick above $2 billion in annual revenue. Pinterest stock rose 28 percent in extended trading on a better than expected Q4. “We took important steps in 2021 with the launch of our foundational technology to deliver a video-first publishing platform,” Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann said, emphasizing that the company would continue to focus on the new initiatives that helped revenue grow 20 percent for Q4 and 52 percent for the year. Continue reading Pinterest Posts Its First Full-Year Profit on Sales of $2 Billion

Wall Street Ponders Instagram as Meta Posts $10.2B VR Loss

As Facebook parent company Meta Platforms continues its planned evolution to the metaverse, observers have begun asking about Instagram. Acquired in 2012, the photo and video-sharing platform may be finding the accommodations that help it with advertisers hurt it with younger users gravitating to TikTok and Snapchat. While Meta doesn’t break out numbers for Instagram, the “family of apps” of which Instagram is a member generated $32.8 billion in Q4 revenue, all but $155 million of it from advertising, according to earnings released Wednesday. That’s an 18 percent improvement over Q4 2020. Continue reading Wall Street Ponders Instagram as Meta Posts $10.2B VR Loss

Quantum Computing in Silicon Achieves 99 Percent Accuracy

Australian researchers have had a breakthrough in quantum computing, proving that nearly error-free processing is possible, which could lead to the possibility of silicon-based quantum machines whose manufacture could be compatible with today’s semiconductor manufacturing technology. “Our operations were 99 percent error-free,” said University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) professor Andrea Morello, who led the work with partners in the U.S., Japan, Egypt, and at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the University of Melbourne. “When the errors are so rare, it becomes possible to detect them and correct them when they occur.” Continue reading Quantum Computing in Silicon Achieves 99 Percent Accuracy

Senate Wants Social Firms to Pay for Holding Back Research

The U.S. Senate has introduced the bipartisan Platform Accountability and Transparency Act (PATA), which if passed into law would allow independent researchers to sue Big Tech for failing to provide requested data. The move follows last week’s Instagram hearing, where leaked internal research suggested the platform’s negative effects on the mental health of teens. On December 6, an international coalition of more than 300 scientists sent an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg — CEO of Meta Platforms, the company that owns Instagram and Facebook — requesting the social behemoth voluntarily share research. Continue reading Senate Wants Social Firms to Pay for Holding Back Research

Senate Tells Instagram CEO the ‘Time for Self-Policing is Over’

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri spent more than two hours in the Senate hot seat last week, answering questions about the platform’s safety policies and impact on teens’ mental health. A bipartisan phalanx grilled the executive on topics ranging from algorithms to eating disorders. Mosseri, who was appearing in Congress for the first time, defended his social platform, a division of Meta Platforms, which also owns Facebook. He resisted pressure to throw in the towel on launching an Instagram for kids, telling lawmakers only that no child would have access to such a platform “without their explicit parental consent.” Continue reading Senate Tells Instagram CEO the ‘Time for Self-Policing is Over’

Meta Reorganizes Research Team and Deploys ‘Few-Shot’ AI

Meta Platforms is restructuring its internal research department, drawing on employees from individual divisions like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to staff a centralized unit that will provide services to the entire company. The research will span everything from societal topics of politics, equity, health and climate to credibility topics like misinformation and account safety. The new division will be managed by Meta head of research Pratiti Raychoudhury. Additionally, Meta is deploying the new Few-Shot Learner artificial intelligence system to help moderate content, identify trends, monitor data and implement rules. Continue reading Meta Reorganizes Research Team and Deploys ‘Few-Shot’ AI

Twitter Earns Praise for Transparency in Its Research Findings

Twitter has earned praise for transparency after it published “unflattering” research findings. The company analyzed “millions of Tweets” in an attempt to measure how its recommendation algorithms handle political content, and subsequently reported that it amplifies more content from right-wing politicians and media outlets than from left-wing sources. The findings, which were released in late October, were well-received at a time when social platforms are fast to tout positive findings, but quickly discredit critical data, as was the case with Facebook and whistleblower Frances Haugen. Continue reading Twitter Earns Praise for Transparency in Its Research Findings

TikTok Debuts Safety Center Following Survey on Teen Users

TikTok has added a Safety Center to its platform, simultaneously releasing a 38-page summary of the months-long global research project on the impact its challenges and hoaxes have on adolescent users. The study — which queried more than 10,000 teens, their parents, and teachers across Asia, Europe and the Americas — was written by independent agency Praesidio Safeguarding. The move is a response to negative attention TikTok has received from media and lawmakers involving allegations of “blackout challenges” and slap-a-teacher dares. Critics are saying the social video platform’s new safety features do not go far enough. Continue reading TikTok Debuts Safety Center Following Survey on Teen Users

Facebook Negatively Impacts Society, According to CNN Poll

About 76 percent of adults believe Facebook makes U.S. society worse while 11 percent say the social network makes society better and 13 find it neutral, according to a new CNN poll by SSRS. Roughly 50 percent said they know someone who bought into a conspiracy theory they read about on the site. Meanwhile, Facebook parent Meta Platforms says that beginning January 19 it will discontinue advertisers’ ability to target users based on their history of accessing content about health, ethnicity, politics, religion, sexual orientation and myriad other topics. The change applies to Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Continue reading Facebook Negatively Impacts Society, According to CNN Poll

Research Highlights Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

A Facebook team researching user well-being found that 1 in 8 users engage in compulsive social media habits that impact work, sleep, parenting or relationships, an analysis of recently released company documents suggests. The potentially harmful behavior, said to be categorized as “problematic use,” is comparable to what is also known as “Internet addiction.” Researchers said while some users lack control over disengaging from Facebook, the behavior isn’t considered “clinical addiction” because it doesn’t impact the brain the same way as habits like gambling or substance abuse. The research also referenced compulsive behavior among users of other social media apps. Continue reading Research Highlights Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

D-Wave Plans a Commercial Gate-Model Quantum Computer

D-Wave Systems, which in 2011 became the first company to bring a working quantum computer to market, is diversifying beyond the quantum annealing approach that has been its bread and butter and entering the superconducting gate-model sector that will put it in direct competition with IBM. The Canadian company announced at its Qubits conference that it plans to make its first gate model commercially available in 2023 or 2024. While quantum annealing works well for certain specialized functions, gate-model quantum computing is considered more broadly applicable, in areas like materials science and pharmaceutical research. Continue reading D-Wave Plans a Commercial Gate-Model Quantum Computer