SoftBank Suspends Negotiations to Merge Sprint and T-Mobile

After nine months of merger talks, SoftBank has reportedly suspended its plans to combine Sprint with T-Mobile US. This marks the second time in three years that Sprint has backed out of negotiations. According to those familiar with the matter, directors of SoftBank Group Corp. (Sprint’s parent company) met in Tokyo and opted to suspend the merger plans. Insiders indicate that the news came as a surprise to T-Mobile officials. While discussions could be revisited in the future, the same insiders note that the two sides could not agree on the valuation of Sprint’s shares, and SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son had concerns about relinquishing too much control. Continue reading SoftBank Suspends Negotiations to Merge Sprint and T-Mobile

Competition Ramps Up to Host Amazon’s New Headquarters

Amazon, which invited U.S. cities to submit a proposal to become the company’s second headquarters, reports it has received responses from 238 cities and regions, representing 54 states, provinces, districts and territories. The project is expected to cost $5 billion over almost 20 years. New York, Boston, Atlanta, Nashville and Austin have said they submitted proposals, as did hurricane-battered Puerto Rico and several locations in Mexico and Canada. Reportedly, only seven U.S. states did not enter the contest. Continue reading Competition Ramps Up to Host Amazon’s New Headquarters

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt has always wondered what it would be like to apply all his company’s technology to a city. The company’s founders got excited about the idea, and now it’s about to become a reality. Plucked out of half a dozen proposals, Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet subsidiary, will work with Canadian government officials and other technologists to develop 800 acres of waterfront property in Toronto, creating a potential model of the smart city and licensing its technologies to other cities. Continue reading Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

CTA: 170 Million to Purchase Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

According to the Consumer Technology Association, 170 million people (68 percent of U.S. adults) plan to purchase tech gifts this holiday shopping season. While the CTA’s annual report indicates tech spending is expected to only increase 1 percent to $96.8 billion during Q4, it still represents a new record following a strong 2016. “On the surface, it sounds pretty weak, but we saw 3.8 percent holiday growth in 2016,” said Steve Koenig, CTA’s senior director of market research. “That’s a tough act to follow. It’s hard to post 3 percent to 4 percent growth rates year after year.” Headphones, drones, VR headsets, 4K TVs, laptops and smartphones are among the products predicted to be top-sellers. Continue reading CTA: 170 Million to Purchase Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

Google Earmarks $1 Billion for Tech Education via Nonprofits

Google just set aside $1 billion for a new program dubbed “Grow with Google,” which will fund education and professional training nonprofits to help prepare Americans for technology jobs. The program will offer a website that will help people looking for jobs to get training and professional certificates, and for businesses to improve their online presences. Google says the goal is to allow anyone with an Internet connection to become tech-proficient and eligible for jobs from app development to IT support. Continue reading Google Earmarks $1 Billion for Tech Education via Nonprofits

SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son Reveals His Plan for Vision Fund

SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son invested $164 million in startup Mapbox, which is used by Lyft drivers, Snap and Mastercard, and in the process revealed his plans for his nearly $100 billion Vision Fund. The Fund, which includes money from Saudi Arabia and others, is aimed at preparing for new paradigms in work, medicine and so on that will occur due to artificial intelligence. Son believes in Singularity, the idea that robots will change the work force and machines will become smarter than people. Continue reading SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son Reveals His Plan for Vision Fund

New Intel Chip Can Handle 4 Trillion Operations Per Second

One year after its acquisition of Movidius, Intel is introducing a new chip called the Myriad X, which TechCrunch describes as “a ‘Pro’ version of the Myriad 2, bringing a major redesign to the computer vision-minded chip, while also flaunting some new sophisticated deep-learning capabilities by way of its new ‘Neural Compute Engine.’” While a dedicated computer vision chip has a wide range of potential applications, Intel is looking to use the Myriad X in drones, robots, smart cameras and VR and AR headsets. Continue reading New Intel Chip Can Handle 4 Trillion Operations Per Second

First Autonomous Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Iceland

In Reykjavik, Iceland, e-marketplace Aha is using Israel’s Flytrex for the first-ever fully autonomous drone delivery service. Aha, a digital hub for grocery stores, retailers and restaurants, has become one of Iceland’s leading e-commerce sites. Drone delivery is ideal for Reykjavik, which is situated on a large bay, meaning road transportation is circuitous. The Icelandic Transport Authority (ICETRA) conducted a regulatory process enabling Aha to cut a 20+ minute route to four minutes. Continue reading First Autonomous Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Iceland

China Set to Toughen IP Laws in Pursuit of Tech Dominance

China wants to become the most dominant nation in artificial intelligence, and it’s got three advantages that might help that become a reality. In addition to strong government support, which includes a willingness to share data about its citizens, China also has an immense number of engineers to write software and 751 million Internet users who can test out the work they do. As China seeks to gain market share, President Xi Jinping seeks to strengthen intellectual property laws to give its startups an advantage. Continue reading China Set to Toughen IP Laws in Pursuit of Tech Dominance

Nvidia Integrates Computer Graphics and Artificial Intelligence

At this week’s SIGGRAPH 2017 conference in Los Angeles, Nvidia showed off a variety of technologies connecting graphics and artificial intelligence, delivering 10 research papers relevant to the company’s developers, including an AI-empowered method to create realistic facial animations. The company also showed off its Isaac robots, which vet AI algorithms inside its Project Holodeck virtual environment. By doing so, the robots will be able to learn inside a virtual space for collaboration, minimizing the potential of causing problems in the real world. Continue reading Nvidia Integrates Computer Graphics and Artificial Intelligence

Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

The Walt Disney Company announced 11 tech and media companies will receive funding and support as part of the Disney Accelerator program, now in its fourth year. The companies will be given access to work space at Disney’s L.A. creative campus and guidance from entertainment and media technology leaders. The 2017 class covers a range of compelling areas such as artificial intelligence, eSports, messaging, online learning, robotics, video games and virtual reality. Among the 11 startups are Epic Games, creator of Unreal Engine tech, and location-based VR firm The VOID. Continue reading Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

Hanson Robotics Is Seeking Experienced Product Managers

Hanson Robotics — which develops robot products and artificial intelligence technology to serve consumer, medical and entertainment markets — is currently looking to fill two positions: robotics product manager and software product manager. The company is seeking a robotics product manager to lead product development and manage hardware, arts and software teams. The company’s software product manager will lead software development in collaboration with the hardware, arts and executive teams. Details and contact information for each position are available on ETCentric. Continue reading Hanson Robotics Is Seeking Experienced Product Managers

Robotics: SoftBank to Buy Boston Dynamics From Alphabet

To boost its efforts in robotics, SoftBank Group is purchasing U.S.-based Boston Dynamics from Alphabet and, as part of the deal, is also buying Schaft, a Japanese bipedal robotics company. Although terms of the deal were not revealed, SoftBank shares rose as much as 7.7 percent in Tokyo trading. According to sources, Google, which had acquired Boston Dynamics in late 2013, decided to sell it when it concluded that the company wouldn’t be likely to produce a shipping product in the next few years. Continue reading Robotics: SoftBank to Buy Boston Dynamics From Alphabet

Augmented World Expo: ETC Presents the Dark Side of AR

The ETC@USC’s Phil Lelyveld gave a presentation on the dark side of AR at Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara on Friday. His goal was to raise awareness of some fundamental issues now, before there is resistance to change from established AR and VR business models. Phil began by describing how the AR and VR landscape is integrally linked to the Internet of Things (it feeds data to the AR/VR experience), artificial intelligence (it will shape the end-user experience and avatar behavior), and to a lesser degree, robotics (the relatable face of the AI). Continue reading Augmented World Expo: ETC Presents the Dark Side of AR

Mossberg Retires Weekly Column, Talks Ambient Computing

Veteran tech journalist Walt Mossberg has been writing a weekly personal technology column since 1991, first at The Wall Street Journal, and then at The Verge (for which he serves as executive editor) and Recode (where he is co-founder and editor-at-large). As he retires his weekly column, Mossberg takes one more look at how consumer tech has evolved over the last three decades, “and what we can expect next.” Specifically, he addresses “The Disappearing Computer” as we enter a new world of ambient computing, in which personal computers start to fade into the background. Continue reading Mossberg Retires Weekly Column, Talks Ambient Computing

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