ETC Executive Coffee: Disney on Immersive Media Storytelling

Disney executives met virtually with USC students on April 7 for the fourth installment in ETC@USC’s Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series. Mark Mine, director of the Technology Innovation Group at The Walt Disney Studios, along with his Disney colleague Daniel Baker, senior producer of technology innovation – interactive experiences, engaged a group of nine USC students in a one-hour discussion on “The Future of Immersive Media Storytelling.” They discussed the “aura” of effective immersive media, the balance between game elements and narrative elements, the use of light and shadow for user interface and user experience design, and the importance of navigation. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Disney on Immersive Media Storytelling

ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon on the Future of Entertainment

To kick off ETC@USC’s five-part Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series, Serhad Doken, executive, innovation and product realization at Verizon, led a Zoom discussion on March 15. “Expectations for the Future of Entertainment and UI/UX design” was the framing question for a wide-ranging discussion. Six students from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Viterbi School of Engineering, and the Iovine and Young Academy participated. Topics included user experience expectations, VR and 5G, “gaming” the algorithm, recommendations versus serendipity, artists earning a living, and what experiences have yet to be adopted. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon on the Future of Entertainment

Amazon Will Debut New UI for Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube

Next month, Amazon is slated to launch a new Fire TV interface for its Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube streaming devices. In 2016, Amazon pioneered the “content-first user experience,” which listed rows of movies and TV shows from various streaming apps on the home TV. This idea was picked up by many others in the industry, including Google, Vizio and LG. But, as the number of streaming services has expanded, this model has become unwieldy and chaotic — and Amazon is about to rein it in via a simplified navigation bar. Continue reading Amazon Will Debut New UI for Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube

Rendever Group VR for the Aged Offers Multiple Possibilities

Moderated group VR experiences have an excellent test environment in assisted living and memory care facilities, where the user interface and user experience design are tested by a willing and readily available audience of differently-abled individuals. Rendever is one of the leading startups focused on developing synchronized VR resources for the aging, group-living and group-support market. Their work is especially important now, when COVID-19 has isolated so many seniors in their rooms and in their homes. Continue reading Rendever Group VR for the Aged Offers Multiple Possibilities

An Insider Peek at Google’s New Android TV Streaming Device

Google has a lot of assets: consumer tech, social networking, messaging, music streaming, Chromecast. Yet when it comes to streaming television, it falls behind the big players, such as Amazon and Roku. The company has tried to get Android TV built into television sets but hasn’t achieved any momentum, and Chromecast requires consumers to navigate layers of abstraction. The XDA Developers portal revealed insider information about Google’s next streaming video dongle, featuring an Android TV interface and, for the first time, a remote control. Continue reading An Insider Peek at Google’s New Android TV Streaming Device

Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Spotify Technology has just unveiled an app specifically designed for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Spotify Kids, which is available for free to Spotify Premium Family members, is being tested in the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. The most notable change is visual: Spotify Kids offers kids the animated creature of their choice to act as an avatar in an environment full of colors and doodles. There are two Spotify Kids versions, one for younger children and another for older ones. Continue reading Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

Since its debut two months ago, the Disney+ mobile app has been downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play 41 million times — four times as many as HBO Now — earning nearly $100 million, reports Sensor Tower. That news sent Disney shares up two percent to $146.72. In Q4 2019, Disney+ was downloaded 30 million times, more than twice that of TikTok. According to a YouGov survey, 76 percent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with Disney+ compared to 48 percent for Apple TV+. Continue reading Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

Twitter Releases Web Redesign That Highlights Community

Twitter’s desktop interface hadn’t been tweaked in seven years and its technology was woefully out of date. The company began working on a redesign of the site in 2017 and started beta-testing it in September 2018. After showing it to more users in January, Twitter finally released it widely this week. The new three-column design is faster, but other changes are subtle. According to Twitter senior director of product design Mike Kruzeniski, much of the design changes focus on “simplification.” Continue reading Twitter Releases Web Redesign That Highlights Community

How DJI Osmo Action Cam Stacks Up Against GoPro Hero

Drone maker DJI just introduced its Osmo Action, a camera that some say will give GoPro a run for its money. Among its strong points, the Osmo Action shoots 4K at 60 fps and 1080p at 240 fps. It offers good electronic image stabilization and a front LCD screen that lets the users double-check framing, which comes in handy when the camera is mounted to a bike frame or vehicle, obscuring the 16×9 LCD rear screen. It also offers a replaceable lens cover to easily add filters. Its form factor and user interface mimics that of the GoPro. Continue reading How DJI Osmo Action Cam Stacks Up Against GoPro Hero

HPA Tech Retreat: Take a Tour of the Netflix Media Database

In a Wednesday morning session at the HPA Tech Retreat in Palm Desert, Netflix’s Rohit Puri, engineering manager of the Cloud Media Systems team took attendees on a tour of the Netflix Media Database. The Netflix service experience, he explained, is made up of a seamless user interface, personalized content recommendation, efficient media streaming and curated content catalog. Other assets that “go a long way in helping users find content,” added Puri, include promotional artwork and video. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Take a Tour of the Netflix Media Database

Amazon Web Services Testing Two ‘Provable’ Security Tools

To help its Amazon Web Services customers keep their data secure, the AWS Automated Reasoning Group is beta-testing two new tools, Zelkova and Tiros, which analyze security configurations, provide automated feedback on various set-ups and help administrators avoid mistakes that could endanger their data. Tiros focuses on checking for “unexpected access from the open Internet,” and Zelkova aids developers in understanding how permissive their setups are compared to existing infrastructure. Continue reading Amazon Web Services Testing Two ‘Provable’ Security Tools

Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

At Google I/O, the company revealed an upgrade to Android Auto that allows a user to plug her smartphone into the car and see all her apps with new templates presenting the apps in a more engaging manner. The upgrade also includes group messaging and RCS (Rich Communication Services) with support for Google Assistant. The update will allow a driver to group text friends via voice. Also announced is that Volvo will build Android Auto into its head units, one of the first automakers to do so. Continue reading Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

Startup Simplifies Voice App Development With New Interface

Storyline, a startup founded in September, has launched version 2 of its easy-to-use visual interface designed to help businesses, brands and publishers develop Amazon Alexa skills without the need for extensive coding knowledge. Since 39 million U.S. consumers now own a smart speaker, voice apps are needed, and Storyline hopes that its simple drag-and-drop solution will help foster that growth. The company refers to its approach as the “Weebly for voice apps,” drawing a comparison to the popular, easy-to-use, website-building platform. Continue reading Startup Simplifies Voice App Development With New Interface

Studios, Streaming Services Take on TickBox in Copyright Suit

In October, MPAA member studios 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. teamed with streaming services Amazon and Netflix to sue TickBox TV over copyright infringement. Yesterday in California, U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald sided with the studios and streamers by issuing “a preliminary injunction against the streaming device manufacturer to pause further potential infringement while the litigation plays out,” explains The Hollywood Reporter. “TickBox argues it only offers hardware, on which users can ‘voluntarily install legitimate or illegitimate software,’ and that access to the infringing content came from downloadable ‘themes’ that it didn’t create.” Continue reading Studios, Streaming Services Take on TickBox in Copyright Suit

Twitter Is Reportedly Developing Snapchat-Like Video Feature

Twitter is following Snapchat’s lead by developing a new camera feature that will help users easily create and share video content via its app. People familiar with the matter say that a working demo has been created, but a final design and release date have yet to be confirmed. The tool, which could change significantly in the next few months, is designed to encourage users to share video footage of what’s happening around them. Facebook has also copied innovations from Snapchat, “a mobile app focused on ephemeral photos and videos that’s popular with younger audiences,” explains Bloomberg. “Twitter’s latest change suggests that chief executive officer Jack Dorsey is taking cues from the newer company as well.” Continue reading Twitter Is Reportedly Developing Snapchat-Like Video Feature

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