SoftBank to Launch App Store for its Pepper Robots This Month

SoftBank’s Pepper humanoid robots are already interacting with customers at shops and banks in Japan. Later this month, the robots will be introduced to more advanced functions after SoftBank opens a planned app store offering software that will help track customer’s behavior and improve communication with customers. The Pepper robots, which are designed to feature human-like body language and work in retail, have reportedly been selling out regularly since last year’s launch. Continue reading SoftBank to Launch App Store for its Pepper Robots This Month

Panasonic Revives 8K Research, New Cameras Slated for 2018

Panasonic has renewed its efforts to develop 8K image sensors for video. The company had stopped R&D in this area in 2011, in response to financial considerations, but as its earnings increased, it revived its work in this sector, now pledging to invest $80.8 million (10 billion yen) into R&D. Production of the sensors is likely to be outsourced, and production models are expected on the market by 2018. The first targeted use for the 8K sensors will be consumer and broadcast cameras. Continue reading Panasonic Revives 8K Research, New Cameras Slated for 2018

Nintendo Abandons Its Console-Only Strategy, Enters Mobile

Nintendo will unveil its first-ever game for smartphones, a radical departure from its long-term exclusive focus on its console. In the years of avoiding the move to smartphones, the Kyoto, Japan-based company missed the spectacular rise of mobile gaming, which this year, says research firm Newzoo, is on track to outpace console games in global sales for the first time. But Nintendo is finally opening up, not just with mobile games but also theme parks and a new console game. The first mobile game could debut in a few days. Continue reading Nintendo Abandons Its Console-Only Strategy, Enters Mobile

Microsoft Aims to Upgrade Your World with Windows 10 Launch

Microsoft plans to release Windows 10 as a free upgrade and with new PCs and tablets starting July 29. To celebrate the launch, the company will host fan celebration parties in 13 cities around the world that will feature hands-on demonstrations, live entertainment and interaction with developers from the Windows team. A related global ad campaign will launch next week. The Windows 10 release is also part of Microsoft’s year-long Upgrade Your World initiative “to celebrate those who inspire and empower others.” Continue reading Microsoft Aims to Upgrade Your World with Windows 10 Launch

Next Wearables Could Use Smart Fabric with Conductive Ink

Researchers in Tokyo have developed a way to print electrodes directly onto material, featuring highly conductive elastic ink that could be used to measure heart rates and report vital statistics. If researchers can make the technology robust and washable, then stretchable, sensor-loaded clothing could become a future trend in commercial wearables. Sportswear, for example, is one area that could benefit. Google’s Project Jacquard, NTT DoCoMo and chemical company Toray Industries are among those developing smart fabric technology. Continue reading Next Wearables Could Use Smart Fabric with Conductive Ink

FOVE, a VR Headset with Eye-Tracking, Thrives on Kickstarter

FOVE, which claims to be the only virtual reality headset with built-in eye-tracking, has surpassed its Kickstarter goal by nearly $100,000 with 37 days left to go in the campaign. A $399 donation awards backers with a headset and development kit, and FOVE plans to deliver both by May 2016. Eye-tracking not only enables users to play games by aiming their eyes, it opens the door to foveated rendering, which reduces the computational demands on real-time processing and provides contextual feedback, avatar eye-mapping, and more. Continue reading FOVE, a VR Headset with Eye-Tracking, Thrives on Kickstarter

Stan Lee Partners with YouTube for Original Superhero Content

Comics legend and media producer Stan Lee has joined forces with YouTube to launch “World of Superheroes,” an initiative that intends to encourage leading online video creators to produce original superhero-themed content for the Web’s most popular video platform. As part of the program, Lee’s Pow! Entertainment has created special sets at YouTube Spaces studios and will offer creators the chance to meet and learn from professional stunt coordinators, visual-effects experts and costumers.  Continue reading Stan Lee Partners with YouTube for Original Superhero Content

Apple Watch Launch: Limited Availability, but Wide App Variety

Apple launched its new wearable last week, and a wide variety of related apps are currently available, but customers are still trying to figure out where to buy the smartwatch and companies are still trying to figure out how to use it. The Watch was not available in Apple Stores, but it was in stock at select fashion boutiques around the world. Companies like Yelp and WebMD, meanwhile, are still trying to figure out how Apple Watch users will use their Watch apps differently from their iPhone apps. Continue reading Apple Watch Launch: Limited Availability, but Wide App Variety

Pepper: SoftBank to Launch its Sophisticated Consumer Robot

SoftBank has plans to release a line of consumer robots in Tokyo this summer. The humanoid robot, known as Pepper, stands four feet tall, rolls around on wheels and effectively engages in simple conversations with people. The company predicts that robots will one day emerge as the next mass-market technology assisting people in a wide variety of applications. Pepper, developed by French subsidiary Aldebaran Robotics, will be connected to SoftBank’s mobile network in Japan that currently has about 37 million subscribers.  Continue reading Pepper: SoftBank to Launch its Sophisticated Consumer Robot

Startup Introduces System to Predict Box Office Performance

Japanese startup Crunchers unveiled a system at Tokyo International Film Festival’s content market that will help forecast how a movie will perform in theaters. The system uses big data to determine the success of a movie based on marketing and promotional efforts, word-of-mouth or the “viral effect,” and the timing of the release, and it will only continue to improve its accuracy as it gets more data. Crunchers’ system launches in Japan in November with the U.S. release expected by early 2015. Continue reading Startup Introduces System to Predict Box Office Performance

HPA Panel Addresses Post Production’s Move to the Cloud

Is post production dead… or has it just fled to the cloud? That question was posed by HPA President Leon Silverman who moderated a panel on the future of post production at the HPA Tech Retreat yesterday. Post production facilities coping with complicated metadata and new delivery platforms are moving services to the cloud, and panelists from companies including Sony, Premiere Digital, Paramount, Light Iron and others described how they are incorporating cloud services. Continue reading HPA Panel Addresses Post Production’s Move to the Cloud

Japanese Companies Developing Technology for VR Broadcasts

Japanese telecom giant NTT and video network NicoNico Douga have co-developed a 360-degree broadcast video system designed to replicate live events such as concerts. The “interactive” system is expected to connect to existing head-mounted displays, so that viewers will enjoy some degree of personalized viewing. Through the collaboration, live video content recorded in Tokyo has been developed alongside broadcast tech intended to optimize both the video and audio quality. Continue reading Japanese Companies Developing Technology for VR Broadcasts

YouTube Content Creators Question Ad Revenue Sharing Value

Since YouTube simplified its model of ad revenue sharing by letting content producers merely click a button to opt in, it’s seen a sharp increase in the numbers of creators and content — and, subsequently, revenue. A growing number of video producers are earning their livings from the site, though many say YouTube’s substantial cut of the advertising profits makes it less lucrative than what their videos are worth and how much time is spent producing them. Continue reading YouTube Content Creators Question Ad Revenue Sharing Value

Researchers Print Micro Circuits with Cheap Ink-Jet Printers

Researchers from Georgia Tech, the University of Tokyo, and Microsoft Research have developed a technique in which cheap, functional electric circuits can be printed using only $300 of material and equipment. This technique uses silver nanoparticle ink instead of utilizing sintering. The researchers were able to print a circuit in roughly 60 seconds onto almost any material that can go through a printer, though some materials worked better than others. Continue reading Researchers Print Micro Circuits with Cheap Ink-Jet Printers

Google Introduces Tokyo to Android Game Vending Machines

Japan has vending machines for a wide array of products — from batteries, beverages and magazines to fresh fruit and vegetables. Google joined the fray this week with the trial introduction of Google Play game-dispensing vending machines. Three different machines will each sell a collection of 18 free-to-play and paid-for titles. Consumers with an NFC-enabled smartphone running Android 4.0 can stop in front of the Parco department store in Tokyo’s Shibuya district to access the games. Continue reading Google Introduces Tokyo to Android Game Vending Machines

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