Amazon Glow on a Mission to Help Families Stay Connected

Following last year’s “invitation only” rollout, Amazon has released the Glow projector for kids in the U.S. The touch-sensitive 19-inch Glow image can be used for gameplay, arts, storytime and more. It also has an 8-inch LCD screen for video calls, making it a way “for little ones to enjoy hands-on activities while adults simultaneously — and remotely — join in the fun” using a free app for smartphones and tablets. The $300 price includes a 1-year Amazon Kids+ subscription featuring thousands of books, games and the ability to chat with popular Disney characters. Continue reading Amazon Glow on a Mission to Help Families Stay Connected

CES: Sony Touts 8K, QD-OLED TVs, Bravia Cam for Gestures

TVs continue to gain computer functionality as Sony borrows a page from the monitor playbook by adding camera functionality to models in the 2022 Bravia XR lineup introduced at CES 2022. The Z9K Mini-LED (8K) and A95K HDR OLED (4K) will ship with Bravia Cam, which adds video chat and gesture control. The camera will also help with brightness settings, dialogue emphasis and sound balance by tracking the viewer’s position with regard to the screen. Bravia Cam is an option on other 4K models, including the X95K Mini-LED series, A90K and A80K OLED models, and the X90K LED. Continue reading CES: Sony Touts 8K, QD-OLED TVs, Bravia Cam for Gestures

Amazon Glow Gives Kids Connectivity for Activities & Games

This holiday season, families may be basking in the warmth of the new Amazon Glow, which debuted in limited release September 28. The crackling 14-inch vertical tower is a combination tablet, camera and projector and features an 8-inch LCD HD touchscreen and can project up to 19.2-inches. While the $250 introductory price tag may be considered steep for a device aimed at toddlers (it is marketed for ages 3 and up), the Amazon Glow lets kids play remotely with family and friends, and can anyone really put a price to quality time across the miles?  Continue reading Amazon Glow Gives Kids Connectivity for Activities & Games

Discord Premium Helps Creators Monetize Within the Platform

Discord has begun testing a Premium Membership feature that lets creators monetize their communities by offering subscriptions. The program allows content providers to offer tiered-access, create subscription-only channels, or paywall entire communities (which Discord calls “servers”). “With Premium Memberships, creators and community owners will have the ability to gate part or all of their server behind a paid subscription,” the company says. Many Discord communities have been offering that sort of experience by integrating services like Patreon, Twitch and YouTube. With Premium Memberships they’ll be able to do it natively through Discord. Continue reading Discord Premium Helps Creators Monetize Within the Platform

Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

Spatial lets its enterprise customers use VR or mixed reality headsets to meet in virtual spaces. The company now plans to launch support for desktop web browsers, Android and iOS — open to all and free. That support means virtual meetings can include participants who do not have a headset. According to Spatial co-founder and chief executive Anand Agarawala, “in light of COVID, we’ve actually had an intense amount of demand — about a 1,000 percent increase.” He added that, unlike Zoom, “something like VR gives you that level of presence and personification.” Continue reading Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

WarnerMedia’s HBO has partnered with Seattle-based Scener to allow HBO Now and HBO GO subscribers to create a private virtual theater, including video chat, for up to 20 people. Scener already allows co-viewing for Netflix accounts. This is HBO’s first significant partnership with an online co-viewing platform. Scener co-founder Joe Braidwood said the company saw a “crazy surge in demand” for the product with the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership, which began in March, includes a new design for the site and update for Google Chrome browsers. Continue reading Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Paramount’s Anthony Guarino

Welcome to the second week of ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, in which we interview execs from our member companies about how they are adapting business operations during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Today we have Anthony Guarino, EVP of Worldwide Technical Operations at Paramount Pictures, who explained that his studio had the necessary infrastructure and processes in place to smoothly transition their global archive, mastering and content distribution operations when social distancing went into effect. From the start of the safer-at-home orders, Paramount’s Tech Ops team has effectively worked from home since most of their operating processes utilize software systems that are web enabled. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Paramount’s Anthony Guarino

Cloud Services Experience Record Revenue, Slowing Growth

According to Canalys, by the end of Q1 2020, companies spent a record $31 billion on cloud infrastructure, 34.5 percent growth from $23.1 billion for Q1 2019. Despite increased spending, however, the growth trajectory is slowing: Q1 2019 showed a 39.3 percent year-on-year (YoY) increase and Q4 2019 a 37.2 percent year-on-year increase. Cloud spending therefore grew only 2.6 percent or $800 million quarter-on-quarter by end of March 2020. Canalys attributes growth to the shift to remote working during the pandemic. Continue reading Cloud Services Experience Record Revenue, Slowing Growth

Executive Spotlight: Interview with Vubiquity’s Darcy Antonellis

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant operational changes as businesses adjust to new, often experimental or untested processes. ETC has taken this unprecedented time to interview executives from our member companies who generously agreed to share their experiences, information and ideas about how they are adapting to the crisis. The following is the first in a limited series to be published Tuesdays and Thursdays over the coming weeks. We begin with a conversation with Darcy Antonellis, division president of Amdocs Media and CEO of Vubiquity, an Amdocs Company. Vubiquity delivers premium content to viewers on any screen, device or platform. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: Interview with Vubiquity’s Darcy Antonellis

Facebook Ad Sales Pick Up, Resulting in Strong Q1 Revenue

With the coronavirus pandemic, advertising plummeted on many online sites, including social media giant Facebook. The company’s chief financial officer David Wehner declared that factor “largely attributable” to the 16 percent decline in average price of ads purchased in March. But gaming and e-Commerce companies picked up the slack by spending more, taking advantage of less competition in the company’s ad auctions. As a result, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told analysts the company would “remain in growth mode.” Continue reading Facebook Ad Sales Pick Up, Resulting in Strong Q1 Revenue

Facebook, Google and Others Challenge Zoom’s Dominance

The group video chat app Zoom has been No. 1 in the Apple store for more than a month, growing 740 percent in the last month, according to App Annie. The company, valued at $47 billion, now boasts 300 million daily participants. Success spurs competition, and Zoom is now in the crosshairs of Big Tech and telecommunications companies. After Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg urged a focus on completing its video chat projects, the company launched Messenger Rooms for as many as 50 people. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Others Challenge Zoom’s Dominance

Houseparty Chat Expands Beyond Teens to Wider Audience

Zoom has gotten a lot of attention as the popular video chat platform that’s soared in usage since the COVID-19 shutdown. But Houseparty is another video chat platform with free mobile and desktop apps that’s gaining traction. Originally targeting teens, Houseparty offers features designed to encourage interaction, such as jumping into a conversation or playing trivia games remotely. In the last month, Houseparty has had 50 million signups, about 70 times its typical number in some markets, said cofounder and chief executive Sima Sistani. Continue reading Houseparty Chat Expands Beyond Teens to Wider Audience

Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Facebook’s Instagram recently debuted Co-Watching, a feature that makes it possible for users to video chat while they browse the app. With Co-Watching, users can engage in direct-message video-chat conversations to look at saved, liked and suggested photos and videos together. Co-Watching is just one example of ways that Facebook and Instagram are shifting to accommodate users and communities during the coronavirus pandemic, when many are confined to home. Instagram first began testing Co-Watching a year ago. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Facebook Announces Three New AI-Powered Portal Devices

Facebook is introducing three Portal models, starting at $129, a more competitive price than previous models. Two offer a smart display with screen, camera and microphone, and the third can turn a TV into a venue for video chat. The first Portal offered AI-enabled tracking that kept all the participants in the frame and could follow a single person. The AI has been upgraded to provide more accuracy. Although the company “paused” human review of audio, it will resume the practice for some Portal audio. Continue reading Facebook Announces Three New AI-Powered Portal Devices

Facebook Set to Launch Portal TV Streamer with Video Chat

For the holidays, Facebook plans to unveil a Portal TV streaming device that will feature a camera and far-field microphones and offer video chat with TV viewing and augmented reality. Rather than competing directly with Fire TV or Roku, the device focuses more on video chatting. It is also likely to run Android, as does most Facebook hardware including Oculus Go and Oculus Quest VR headsets. By being based on the Android operating system, the Portal device will synch seamlessly with Android-based TV apps. Continue reading Facebook Set to Launch Portal TV Streamer with Video Chat