CES: Virtual Reality Startups Tackling Big Problems (Part 2)

Yesterday, we reported from the Sands Convention Center at CES where a number of innovative startups — including IonVR, The Eye Tribe and Reach Bionics — are demonstrating some compelling solutions for improved VR experiences this week. Today, we’ll be examining three other companies exhibiting at the Sands: Impulsonic and its Phonon ‘sonic architecture’ package; the Freefly VR head-mounted display from Proteus VR, that features a Bluetooth-connected controller; and ImmersiON VRelia, which offers a unique spherical encoding and compression solution with its mobile VR headset. Continue reading CES: Virtual Reality Startups Tackling Big Problems (Part 2)

CES: Chinese UAV Company Unveils Autonomous Flying Taxi

Chinese company EHang, known for its Ghostdrone with head-tracking VR goggles, introduced a giant quadcopter simply called “184 drone” in Las Vegas this week. The cockpit has no controls, just a seat for one passenger, a tablet stand and air conditioning. Navigation is controlled by a mobile app using Google Maps, so passengers do not require a pilot’s license, according to the company. (However, the drone will still need FAA approval in the U.S.) The drone stands about 4.9 feet, weighs 440 pounds and can transport a 260-pound load capacity for about 23 minutes. Continue reading CES: Chinese UAV Company Unveils Autonomous Flying Taxi

Facebook Now Offers Live Video to Group of U.S. iPhone Users

Facebook is introducing its tool for sharing live video to a small group of U.S. iPhone users, four months after it was initially debuted by several celebrities and public figures. It differs from its closest competitors, Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope and Meerkat, in that the videos are only available to a small group of approved viewers, and replay videos are automatically saved and permanently visible. Facebook positions its video feed as ideal for personal and family events, rather than the breaking news featured on other sites. Continue reading Facebook Now Offers Live Video to Group of U.S. iPhone Users

Mobile-Only U.S. Homes Grow, Mobile Internet Leads Globally

Two recent reports document the trend of U.S. households to use only cell phones and, globally, for mobile networks to be the dominant means of accessing the Internet. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s report shows 47 percent of U.S. homes now only use mobile phones. The annual survey of the International Telecommunications Union reveals that there are 7.1 billion mobile subscriptions globally, and more than 95 percent of the earth’s inhabitants are within reach of a mobile network signal. Continue reading Mobile-Only U.S. Homes Grow, Mobile Internet Leads Globally

Sprint Offers New Half-Off Promotion, Expanded LTE Network

Until January 7, any wireless customer switching to Sprint will get half-off the price of the plan offered by his current carrier, as well as $650 in switching costs. For existing Sprint customers, the company offers a free Alcatel OneTouch Pixi 7-inch tablet with 1GB of free data for signing a two-year contract. While Sprint chief executive Marcelo Claure says the offer demonstrates the company’s confidence in its improved network, its competitors interpret the latest move in the wireless price wars as closer to desperate. Continue reading Sprint Offers New Half-Off Promotion, Expanded LTE Network

Retailers and Banks Battle Over Adoption of Chip Technology

With the introduction of credit cards with an embedded security chip, the banking and retailing industries are battling over issues of security, fraud and the cost of adoption. For years, European banks have issued credit cards with both the chip and a PIN; U.S. banks are foregoing the PIN and relying solely on the chip and an in-person signature. Retailers argue they are absorbing the high cost of adopting the chip technology and paying interchange fees, without reaping any of the benefits of lower fraud. Continue reading Retailers and Banks Battle Over Adoption of Chip Technology

Lionsgate and Fox to Mold Movies into Theme Park Attractions

“Hunger Games,” “Divergent” and “Twilight” are Lions Gate Entertainment hits now morphing into theme park attractions in the U.S., U.K., China and the United Arab Emirates. Two theme parks near Atlanta and Macau, built by different companies, will host a “Hunger Games” stage show already slated to be performed in London and as part of a Lionsgate zone in a $3 billion entertainment complex being built in the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox announced yesterday that it plans to open a theme park in Dubai in 2018 that features Fox movies and TV shows such as “Aliens,” “Ice Age,” “The Simpsons” and “Sons of Anarchy.” Continue reading Lionsgate and Fox to Mold Movies into Theme Park Attractions

Vice to Decide on TV, Mobile, OTT Expansion Deals in Europe

A large number of potential partners are vying to cut deals for Vice TV channels across Europe, expected to launch in the next 12 to 18 months. But plans aren’t moving fast enough for chief executive Shane Smith who is eager to ink agreements not just for TV but mobile, online and OTT. The company is already set to launch a U.S. channel, and expected to partner with A+E for that venture (although Smith more recently declined to say who his U.S. partner would be), and has a Canadian outlet with Rogers Communications. Continue reading Vice to Decide on TV, Mobile, OTT Expansion Deals in Europe

YouTube to Launch its Subscription Service in U.S. Next Week

At the YouTube Space in Los Angeles yesterday, YouTube execs formally introduced the company’s anticipated $9.99 per month subscription service. YouTube Red will offer consumers ad-free access to YouTube’s enormous catalog of music, gaming and how-to videos. The company also unveiled YouTube originals during the event, a collection of original programming that will be available exclusively through the new subscription service. YouTube Red will launch next week across the YouTube site, YouTube’s gaming app and the Google Play music service. Continue reading YouTube to Launch its Subscription Service in U.S. Next Week

Leaked Documents Offer Details of U.S. Military’s Drone Wars

Two years after government contractor Edward Snowden famously leaked secret NSA documents, another release of classified information has occurred. This time, The Intercept — which is staffed by journalists who previously worked with Snowden — has published what it claims is a comprehensive breakdown of the U.S. government’s military drone program. The report, featuring documents provided by another whistleblower, offers details regarding U.S. strategy to kill foreign targets in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen — and highlights the unintended consequences involved with drone wars. Continue reading Leaked Documents Offer Details of U.S. Military’s Drone Wars

European Court Rules Data Transfer Pact with U.S. is Invalid

The European Union’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, dealt a blow to the American tech industry yesterday when it struck down the international Safe Harbor agreement that previously allowed companies to move digital information between the EU and the U.S. The pact allowed companies to transfer data such as social media updates and online search histories. However, the court ruled that Safe Harbor was flawed since the U.S. government used it to access the online information of Europeans, an issue that was raised by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Continue reading European Court Rules Data Transfer Pact with U.S. is Invalid

China and European Union to Create Working Definition for 5G

Although everyone is talking about 5G, no one has defined it — up until now. China and the European Union have agreed to create a working definition for 5G by the end of the year. If they do, their agreement could go far in forcing the issue in an environment in which others are posturing and issuing statements with little detail. Meanwhile, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which defined 3G and 4G, is also working on the standard but is unlikely to choose a technical standard until February 2016. Continue reading China and European Union to Create Working Definition for 5G

YouTube Readies New Ad-Free Service for Monthly Subscription

Google-owned YouTube is reportedly readying the launch of its much anticipated online subscription service. Sources indicate a launch is likely by the end of October. Two offerings are expected: an updated version of its Music Key service (previously launched in beta) and a new service that offers access to all YouTube content without ads. Earlier reports suggest the bundled offering would be available for $10 per month. While YouTube has hinted in the past about an upcoming subscription service, it has yet to unveil firm plans or a timeline. Continue reading YouTube Readies New Ad-Free Service for Monthly Subscription

EyeEm Unveils New Tech for Auto-Scanning, Tagging Images

German startup EyeEm, which launched its photo-sharing app in 2011, unveiled new technology based on an advanced algorithm and machine learning to identify details of online photos. The technology, EyeVision, automatically scans images and tags them with specific keywords, making it useful for people searching for specific images. The technology, which has been in development for three years, comes at a time that companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google look for ways to provide images for online search queries. Continue reading EyeEm Unveils New Tech for Auto-Scanning, Tagging Images

Apple Partners with Luxury Brand Hermès on New Smartwatch

On October 5, the Apple Watch Hermès, priced between $1,000 and $1,500, will go on sale in Apple and Hermès stores in 14 countries including the U.S., China, France and Switzerland. The new watch is Apple’s first partnership with a luxury brand, and also the first time that Apple has permitted another brand’s components — in this case, signature watchbands, clasps and fonts — on one of its products. The Apple Watch Hermès was the most expensive new item at Apple’s recent new product introduction. Continue reading Apple Partners with Luxury Brand Hermès on New Smartwatch

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