YouTube Streams Globally in Standard Definition for a Month

Due to increased Internet traffic during the coronavirus, YouTube will reduce the quality of its streaming videos to standard definition for a month. Viewers will, however, be able to choose to watch in high definition. In instituting lower resolution, the Google-owned company is extending the policy enacted in Europe, where regulators asked all streaming companies — including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video — to do so. Sony, Microsoft and others are also working to minimize the impact of game downloads on bandwidth. Continue reading YouTube Streams Globally in Standard Definition for a Month

Sony Reveals More Specifications on Upcoming PlayStation 5

Sony previously stated that the upcoming PlayStation 5 will support 8K resolution gaming and features a custom AMD Ryzen chip and ray tracing. Now, lead systems architect Mark Cerny shared more details about the PS5’s solid-state drive, 3D audio capabilities and backward compatibility. The PS5 processor will support 3D audio and requires no external hardware. PS5 also offers an environmentally friendly feature by allowing players to “suspend gameplay with much lower power consumption than PS4.” Continue reading Sony Reveals More Specifications on Upcoming PlayStation 5

Fox Corporation Acquires Streaming Platform Tubi for $440M

Fox Corporation is purchasing San Francisco-based, ad-supported streaming platform Tubi for $440 million in cash and the potential of $50 million in future deferred consideration and unvested options. Tubi, which currently has 25 million users in North America and Australia, streams thousands of movies and TV shows from more than 250 content partners including Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Tubi is accessible via numerous streaming devices, including the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Roku, and smart TVs from brands such as Samsung and Sony. Continue reading Fox Corporation Acquires Streaming Platform Tubi for $440M

ETC@USC Announces Winners of Immersive Media Challenge

ETC’s Immersive Media Challenge judges selected four submissions that best meet the criteria of “a great idea, well told.” Jack Vomacka’s Audio-Visual Animation describes a blend of physical objects and projection technologies that would create more believable LBE experiences. Sam Clempson’s Mind Palace is an AR-based memory-improvement tool. Courtney Zhang’s Affa Streaming AI Experience uses mood detection to make content recommendations. And Lance Newby’s MIC (ML for In-game Content) turns non-playable characters into minor characters who participate in and can influence the action of a video game. Pitch videos and answers to challenge questions for all submissions are posted on ETC’s homepage. Continue reading ETC@USC Announces Winners of Immersive Media Challenge

Manticore Games Launches Alpha Test for Development Tools

In 2016, Frederic Descamps and Jordan Maynard formed Manticore Games to build real-time experiences, adding a tool to quickly test out ideas and insert them into a game and enabling gamers to easily customize the experience with new items. Now they’ve turned those intuitive tools into a service, dubbed Core, currently in closed alpha testing. An open alpha test is expected “in the near future.” As a game creation tool and eventual marketplace, Core is intended to democratize game development. Continue reading Manticore Games Launches Alpha Test for Development Tools

HPA Tech Retreat: Immersive Audio Standards Ready For Use

Immersive audio standards are complete, said Sony Pictures Entertainment executive director of audio Brian Vessa, and now the task is to encourage widespread use. Immersive Audio Bitstream (IAB) is the interoperable system that allows one mix — the IAB DCP — to play back in multiple immersive sound systems in movie theaters. “For home entertainment, a single mix can be transcoded to multiple deliverables,” Vessa said. Most tentpole movies are already being mixed natively in immersive audio, he added. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Immersive Audio Standards Ready For Use

HPA Tech Retreat: Latest From Academy Software Foundation

In 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences established the Academy Software Foundation, with the mission of increasing the “quality and quantity of open source contributions … [to] lower the barrier to entry for developing and using” it. Its genesis was a survey conducted by the AMPAS Science and Technology Council that found 84 percent of those in the media & entertainment industry used it — but had challenges. At HPA Tech Retreat, ASWF executive director David Morin updated the group’s activities. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Latest From Academy Software Foundation

Nvidia Launches Its GeForce NOW Cloud Gaming Service

Nvidia debuted its GeForce NOW gaming service, putting it in competition with rivals Apple, Google, Microsoft and Sony. It will connect to PCs, Android phones and Apple Macs, but there is no version for iPads or iPhones. After a free promotional period, GeForce NOW will be priced at $4.99 per month. The games will stream from Nvidia’s data centers, powered by its highest-end graphics cards, providing high definition gaming to all compatible devices. The service will also allow consumers to access titles they’ve bought elsewhere. Continue reading Nvidia Launches Its GeForce NOW Cloud Gaming Service

Nintendo Shares Fall, Game Publishers Stall on New Titles

After missing estimates for quarterly profit and full-year earnings predicted to be short of expectations, Nintendo shares fell as much as 4.7 percent, the biggest intraday drop since April 26. Nintendo reported disappointing operating income for the quarter ending in December: 168.7 billion yen ($1.5 billion) versus the 175.4 billion yen average projection. Wall Street has also projected slowed growth for major video game publishers that are holding back on new releases until new consoles have debuted. Continue reading Nintendo Shares Fall, Game Publishers Stall on New Titles

Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

In March, Japanese wireless company NTT Docomo will debut an 8K VR streaming service that relies on next generation 5G technology for its bandwidth and low latency capabilities. The 8KVR Live service will become part of Docomo’s Shinkansen Live Connect; the name refers to the country’s bullet trains. The new service will enable pay-per-view access to live venues such as concerts. Users with VR headsets and 5G smartphones will be able to watch the live event from a viewing angle of their choosing. Continue reading Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

Microsoft Bets on Internet of Things, Ends Xbox TV Feature

Although many observers would name Microsoft’s Xbox as the tech company’s biggest hardware business, chief executive Satya Nadella instead points to the company’s cloud. In fact, Microsoft is building an entire cloud infrastructure from data centers to servers and network stack. Nadella said that he doesn’t want the company to be defined “by what we achieved.” He pointed to the Internet of Things about to emerge. “We look at if there’s going to be 50 billion endpoints,” he said. “Let’s go … and define a strategy for that.” Continue reading Microsoft Bets on Internet of Things, Ends Xbox TV Feature

CES 2020 Showcased 8K TVs But Critics Remain Skeptical

At CES 2020, 8K was much in evidence with flagship TV sets from LG, Samsung, Sony and TCL. The only content these manufacturers were able to show, however, was from YouTube’s 8K demo reels, featuring animal and nature scenes. The question for some attendees was if it’s worth buying a very expensive 8K TV to watch HD or 4K content. Many of these TVs — such as Samsung’s 8K Q950 QLED model — showed another trend: nearly bezel-less frames, something consumers seem to appreciate, and even want in a 4K version. Continue reading CES 2020 Showcased 8K TVs But Critics Remain Skeptical

Verizon to Drop Cable Bundles in Favor of Customer Choice

To prevent further cord-cutting, Verizon Communications is abandoning traditional cable bundles. Fios customers will be able to select Internet speeds and TV packets separately, at preset rates, and can change their services on a monthly basis. Verizon senior vice president Frank Boulben stated that customers can then avoid promotional pricing that expires — and then skyrockets. Altice USA, Comcast and Charter Communications are offering lower cost wireless plans for Internet/TV customers. Continue reading Verizon to Drop Cable Bundles in Favor of Customer Choice

All About You: CES Products Highlight Personal Experiences

The display of Sony’s 360 Reality Audio at CES 2020 just might summarize the entire show: a personalized experience in a 360-degree spherical sound field, exactly as intended by artists and creators. Listeners optimize Sony’s object-based spatial audio technology with an app that captures an image and then analyzes their ears. With the app connected to one of the select new Sony headphones and a premium music service such as Deezer, nugs.net, and TIDAL they will hear individual instruments, vocals, and even the audience placed in the sound field. Continue reading All About You: CES Products Highlight Personal Experiences

Latest Progress of Autonomous Driving Showcased at CES

Since 2016, each edition of CES has touted the imminent arrival of “Fully Self-Driving” (SAE Level 5) autonomous vehicles. While some companies working on “mostly self-driving” offered rides around town (like Russian-based Yandex), this year’s show came with a dose of realism as companies focus on clearing the hurdles associated with lower levels of autonomy. Demonstrating these efforts, companies showcased sensor fusion, mapping technologies and new intelligent systems. Meanwhile, some companies are using this calm before the storm to focus on the user experience. Sony even built a car to jumpstart the conversation. Continue reading Latest Progress of Autonomous Driving Showcased at CES

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