Productions Return Slowly in California But Boom in Canada

California Film Commission executive director Colleen Bell said Hollywood production is slowly but steadily coming back. In March, all projects approved under the California film and TV tax credit program requested force majeure to retain their tax credits, and now 10 of them have resumed production since June 12. Still, the number of on-location film permits in Los Angeles declined 7.6 percent from October to November while production in Vancouver and Toronto are at pre-pandemic levels although movie theaters are shuttered. Continue reading Productions Return Slowly in California But Boom in Canada

CES: 5G and the Internet of Things Take First Steps – Part 2

Yesterday we noted that recent years have seen the Internet of Things and next-generation 5G networks evolving on parallel tracks. From autonomous vehicles to smart factories and wearables, 5G promises to super-charge speed, low latency and reliability. As carriers begin to introduce 5G networks, and we gear up for next month’s CES in Las Vegas, it’s time to check-in about the state of the relationship between these two technologies. Today, we’ll address the convergence of 5G and IoT in the enterprise space. Continue reading CES: 5G and the Internet of Things Take First Steps – Part 2

Toronto Has Become a Magnet For Major Tech Companies

Toronto has become an attractive locale for Silicon Valley companies to set up shop. Intel plans to build a graphics-chip design lab there, Uber Technologies will open an engineering hub, and Google’s parent, Alphabet, aims to build a new Toronto campus as part of its “smart city” on Lake Ontario. Microsoft also said it will increase its Canadian workforce by 20+ percent. All that activity has led Silicon Valley Bank, which funds startups and venture capital firms, to open an office in what is the largest Canadian city. Continue reading Toronto Has Become a Magnet For Major Tech Companies

Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs project began in 2017 when Toronto invited the company to turn an undeveloped 12-acre lot, Quayside, into a model of the digital city of the future. Now, Alphabet has issued a 1,524-page master plan that, in four volumes, details how it will spend the $1.3 billion earmarked for the project. Among those plans, Alphabet details using environmentally-friendly timber, installing an underground pneumatic tube for garbage removal, and building streets for autonomous vehicles from subsidiary Waymo. Continue reading Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Samsung Zeroes In on AI to Meet 2020 Goal for Smart Devices

Samsung has committed to integrating artificial intelligence and Internet connectivity into all its products by 2020, even as Google and Amazon beat the South Korean company to market with their AI-powered smart speakers. Samsung’s goal is to have every device from televisions to refrigerators synch with each other and drive demand for its smartphones. Samsung eventually plans to centralize these devices with its SmartThings app, acquired in 2014. It also will include its own virtual assistant Bixby, which debuted last year on its flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone. Continue reading Samsung Zeroes In on AI to Meet 2020 Goal for Smart Devices

Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

In October 2017, Alphabet debuted a partnership with Toronto to further the goals of a smart city. Dubbed Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet plans to observe and measure how people live, to optimize city streets. To that end, Alphabet just launched another venture under the Sidewalk Labs rubric, Coord, intended to utilize the company’s cloud-based platform to streamline transportation networks. Separately, ride-sharing competitors Uber and Lyft, with 13 other companies, signed a shared “mobility pledge” to enable more livable cities. Continue reading Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

AR and VR Groups Create the First Global Virtual Reality Day

Augmented and virtual reality have been evolving, but aren’t yet at the point of breaking into the mainstream. Now, a grassroots group of individuals and organizations is working to create the first worldwide Virtual Reality Day, on November 18, an event it hopes to make annual until AR and VR reach wide acceptance. The group has chosen the date as the last Saturday before Black Friday, with the hope that parents and children will explore AR/VR together. The New York VR meetup (NYVR) — with 5,300 members, the second largest in the world — will participate. Continue reading AR and VR Groups Create the First Global Virtual Reality Day

Google’s Geoff Hinton Tests Capsule Networks as AI Solution

In 2012, University of Toronto professor Geoffrey Hinton and two grad students showed off artificial neural networks, a technology that empowered machines to understand images. Google hired Hinton and his grad students six months later; Hinton now splits his time between Google and the university. Although neural networks now underlie speech transcription and many other tasks, Hinton isn’t enthused over the technology he helped launch. Instead, he’s now bullish on an “old” idea that could help reshape artificial intelligence. Continue reading Google’s Geoff Hinton Tests Capsule Networks as AI Solution

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

Amazon Invites Long-Shot Cities to Make Their Case for HQ

Amazon’s invitation for U.S. cities and states to submit proposals for its second headquarters has ignited a frenzy of interest. The new headquarters is estimated to bring a $5 billion investment and 50,000 jobs, which led governors, mayors and other officials to invest in everything from professionally produced promotional packets to PR stunts to attract attention. In the process, some cities may be spending more than they should on what is essentially a long shot. The initial bidding process ends on October 19. Continue reading Amazon Invites Long-Shot Cities to Make Their Case for HQ

‘Star Wars’ VR Experience to Open at Disneyland by Holidays

This holiday season, Disneyland Resorts in Anaheim and Orlando will debut “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire,” a multi-player virtual reality experience based on “Star Wars,” and produced by VR start-up The VOID, Lucasfilm and ILMxLAB, Lucasfilm’s immersive entertainment division. Prior to this production, ILMxLAB built “Trials on Tatooine,” which was available to consumers on VR headsets and in IMAX VR centers. The VOID calls its experiences “hyper-reality,” as the participant can explore, pick up props and open doors. Continue reading ‘Star Wars’ VR Experience to Open at Disneyland by Holidays

Google Debuts Developers Launchpad Studio for AI Startups

To help AI and machine learning startups succeed, Google introduced a Developers Launchpad Studio, a six-month program that will gift participants with $50,000 in financial support without a quid pro quo for Google equity. Benefits also include product credits for Google Cloud and other services, product validation assistance and introductions to AI investors. The program will also make Google director of research Peter Norvig and Israel-based Google R&D Research Center head Yossi Matias available for feedback and advice. Continue reading Google Debuts Developers Launchpad Studio for AI Startups

Spotify Purchases Content Recommendation Startup MightyTV

Streaming music service Spotify has acquired New York-based startup MightyTV, which created an app that uses artificial intelligence to provide video recommendations based on individual personal preferences and aggregated user ratings. The acquisition will provide Spotify with technology that could be used to target ads. The company is looking to ramp up ad revenue, since most of its millions of users opt for the free ad-supported version of its service. MightyTV has already shuttered its video app, and plans to integrate the technology into Spotify. The deal will also bring MightyTV founder and CEO Brian Adams to Spotify as VP of technology. Continue reading Spotify Purchases Content Recommendation Startup MightyTV

Uber is Bringing its New Meal Delivery Service to 10 U.S. Cities

Ride-hailing service Uber is expanding its new meal delivery service to 10 U.S. cities in the coming weeks. People in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Austin, Washington DC, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle and Dallas will be able to order food from dozens of local restaurants through a dedicated UberEats app and have an Uber driver deliver the meal. UberEats will have longer hours of operation than Uber’s existing lunchtime-only food delivery service in these cities. Continue reading Uber is Bringing its New Meal Delivery Service to 10 U.S. Cities

Virtual Reality Roller Coasters Are Coming to Theme Parks

In 2016, virtual reality will go on a roller coaster ride at several theme parks. Plans for nine VR roller coasters are already slated, with haunted mazes and thrill rides in the planning stages. At the Wonderland amusement park, outside Toronto, Canada, the Thunder Run roller coaster will begin to offer virtual reality headsets, for an added fee, to a limited number of riders. During the off-season, the park tested the VR experience, where riders fly on the back of a fire-breathing dragon over a medieval village. Continue reading Virtual Reality Roller Coasters Are Coming to Theme Parks

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