Magic Leap and ILMxLAB Plan to Make ‘Star Wars’ Immersive

Magic Leap and Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB have partnered to develop “Star Wars”-related content for the former’s technology. Because Magic Leap has kept its mixed reality developments under wraps, neither company would reveal details about specific experiences that would result from the partnership. But Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz, at the WIRED Business Conference in New York City last week, did show a teaser that showed two iconic “Star Wars” characters, computer-generated but very real looking, interacting with participants. Continue reading Magic Leap and ILMxLAB Plan to Make ‘Star Wars’ Immersive

Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

VR company Vrse has changed its name to Within and received $12.56 million in funding, led by venture firm Andreessen Horowitz. Other Within investors include 21st Century Fox and Annapurna Pictures. This is just the latest example of the huge sums that VR and AR companies have been able to garner. Magic Leap raised $793.5 million earlier this year, and Disney spearheaded a $65 million round for VR firm Jaunt. Comcast also led a $6.8 million Series A funding round in VR studio Felix & Paul. Continue reading Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

WWDC: Apple Unveils OS Enhancements, Opens Siri to World

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference kicked off yesterday in San Francisco with a two-hour keynote that introduced new enhancements coming to iOS, watchOS, tvOS and Mac OS X (now called macOS). Developer previews of the operating systems are being made available now, with public betas to follow next month, and integration with Apple devices by fall. Among the highlights: live channels and YouTube search are coming to Apple TV, Siri is coming to the desktop, a new SDK invites developers to create Siri apps, iPhone users can dump unwanted apps, Apple Pay is expanded to Safari, Apple Music gets a new interface, and watchOS 3 loads apps seven times faster. Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils OS Enhancements, Opens Siri to World

AT&T, Otter Media to Unveil Anime-Focused Sub Video Bundle

AT&T and the Chernin Group’s Otter Media joint venture will soon introduce a video subscription bundle for fans of anime, video games, niche action sports and other less traditional content. San Francisco-based Ellation, which owns anime video subscription service Crunchyroll with its 800,00+ paying subscribers, is developing the Otter Media platform. The plan, say sources familiar with the plans, is to combine Crunchyroll with other channels, and sell it as a bundle or a la carte, similar to Amazon’s recent efforts. Continue reading AT&T, Otter Media to Unveil Anime-Focused Sub Video Bundle

Scripps Buys Popular Stitcher Podcast Service for $4.5 Million

Podcast platform Stitcher, purchased by streaming music service Deezer in 2014, has now been acquired by the E.W. Scripps Company for $4.5 million. Scripps owns 34 radio stations in eight markets, while Stitcher provides streaming for more than 65,000 podcasts. “Stitcher will operate as part of Midroll Media, which Scripps purchased about a year ago,” reports Radio Ink. Stitcher employees joining Midroll will operate out of San Francisco. Stitcher’s GM and VP of product Todd Pringle will lead product development. Continue reading Scripps Buys Popular Stitcher Podcast Service for $4.5 Million

News of Jawbone Selling Off its Inventory is False, Says CEO

Jawbone CEO and founder Hosain Rahman refutes recent reports that his company is halting production of its UP fitness trackers and selling the remaining inventory to a third party. “As some of you may have recently seen, there have been a few incorrect media reports that Jawbone is exiting the wearables business or going out of business altogether,” he wrote in a blog post. “These reports are unequivocally false.” Rahman suggests that an inaccurate report was posted online before a correction was published, and other media outlets ran the news based on the initial post. “We will continue to support all of our products,” he added. “UP2, UP3 and UP4 are still hugely popular and continue to sell well.” Continue reading News of Jawbone Selling Off its Inventory is False, Says CEO

Jawbone is Selling Speaker Biz, Puts Fitness Trackers on Hold

After failing to gain traction in the wearables market currently dominated by Fitbit and Apple, Jawbone has ceased production of its UP line of fitness trackers and reportedly sold its remaining inventory to a third party reseller at a discount. It is not clear whether Jawbone plans to manufacture the fitness trackers again in the future. The company has also discontinued its Bluetooth speaker business and is currently looking to unload remaining inventory. According to multiple sources, Jawbone has been looking to sell its Jambox wireless speaker business. Continue reading Jawbone is Selling Speaker Biz, Puts Fitness Trackers on Hold

Twitter Character Update Makes Room for Interactive Content

Twitter is planning a series of changes designed to make communication easier via the social platform, hopefully without alienating its loyal base (earlier proposed changes led to public outcry). Notably, Twitter will modify the 140-character limit of a tweet, which often frustrates some users, but in many ways has come to define the service. “Under the rule-bending, tagging users by their handles at the beginning of replies and adding photos, GIFs and videos will no longer count against the 140-character limit in tweets,” reports The New York Times. “Twitter users will also be able to quote and ‘retweet’ — or rebroadcast — their own older tweets, which was not possible before.” Continue reading Twitter Character Update Makes Room for Interactive Content

Apple Redesigns Retail Stores, Opens San Francisco Flagship

On the 15th anniversary of the first Apple retail store, the company unveiled a new design for its 477 physical outlets. In the face of a slump in sales, the redesigned stores are one more way to bring in customers, existing and new, to buy products and bask in the Apple lifestyle. The first to open is in San Francisco’s Union Square. The two-story building features 42-foot-tall glass doors that expose the interior to the street, special displays on photography, music and more room to wander and play with Apple products. Continue reading Apple Redesigns Retail Stores, Opens San Francisco Flagship

BitTorrent Rolls Out New P2P-Based Live TV Streaming App

BitTorrent is debuting BitTorrent Live, a new live TV streaming app for the latest generation Apple TVs and computers, which offers live streams from 13 niche programmers. The goal is to build a virtual MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor), with more prominent cable networks. For now, the BitTorrent package is comprised of channels such as Clubbing TV, Filmbox Arthouse, FightBox, Newsmax TV, Heroes TV and TWiT. Although these aren’t well-known networks, the offering is free, unlike other TV streaming services. Continue reading BitTorrent Rolls Out New P2P-Based Live TV Streaming App

Facebook’s Metrics Are Stellar, But Biometrics Spur Lawsuit

Facebook’s net income almost tripled to $1.5 billion and monthly active users hit a record 1.65 billion. But the metric that matters is that users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger platforms, up from 40 minutes in 2014. That’s the equivalent of one-sixteenth of most peoples’ waking time, and more time than on any other leisure activity than anything but TV and movies. Facebook, of course, would like people to spend even longer on its sites and that’s behind its latest improvements to News Feed. However, the company is also facing a lawsuit regarding its photo tagging feature and biometric data. Continue reading Facebook’s Metrics Are Stellar, But Biometrics Spur Lawsuit

Applications Being Accepted for HTC VR Accelerator Program

HTC has allocated $100 million to fund a ‘Vive X’ accelerator program with the goal to “help cultivate, and grow the global VR ecosystem by supporting startups and providing them with expertise, special access to advanced VR technology, financial investment, mentorship and unmatched go-to-market support.” The fund will support a wide range of startups. This differentiates it from the Oculus fund, which is one-tenth the amount and has an emphasis on the game industry, explains Road to VR. The program is open to companies that are creating content and tools that enrich the VR ecosystem and end-user experience. The global accelerator will initially open offices in Beijing, Taipei and San Francisco. Continue reading Applications Being Accepted for HTC VR Accelerator Program

Facebook Open-Sources 360-Degree Camera to Jumpstart VR

Facebook debuted the Facebook Surround 360 camera for 360-degree video and VR at its F8 conference this week. The company will also freely share its hardware schematics and complex stitching software via GitHub this summer. Others share Facebook’s vision of virtual reality, including Nokia, Jaunt and Google, all of which built their own 360-degree cameras. But Facebook, by open-sourcing its plans, says chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, furthers its central mission of connecting everyone in the world. Continue reading Facebook Open-Sources 360-Degree Camera to Jumpstart VR

Sony to Launch Ultra 4K Movie Streaming Service Next Week

Sony is slated to roll out its 4K movie streaming service on Monday, April 4. First announced at January’s CES in Las Vegas, the new service will be called Ultra. Viewers will be charged $30 to purchase new Sony-produced films and $12-15 to upgrade pre-owned movies from their UltraViolet cloud locker. Ultra will also offer 4K HDR content such as extras previously only featured on discs. Consumers who buy a 2016 4K Sony TV will get four UHD movies bundled with their new television. Transactional VOD rentals are not expected to be an option featured with the launch. Continue reading Sony to Launch Ultra 4K Movie Streaming Service Next Week

Google Makes its Move to Become a Player in Cloud Services

Until now, Google has been third, behind Amazon and Microsoft, in the fast-growing market of cloud computing services. That all changed at its NEXT conference in San Francisco when the company showcased a variety of cloud-based services including software for machine learning, a powerful new speech service that challenges Nuance’s dominance, and a recently introduced vision service. Google also plans to expand places where people can purchase its cloud services from four regions to 16 in the next year-and-a-half. Continue reading Google Makes its Move to Become a Player in Cloud Services

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