Microsoft Ventures Program Plans to Steer Tech Startups

Microsoft plans to aid entrepreneurship with a new global effort that combines several of its programs to mentor and help fund technology startups. Microsoft Ventures aims to help startups build, innovate and grow. It combines and strengthens existing programs, such as BizSpark and Bing Fund, with plans for new programs involving the Microsoft Ventures Community. The initiative is also looking to provide guidance and market relationships for young B2B startups. Continue reading Microsoft Ventures Program Plans to Steer Tech Startups

FTC Chair Proposes Inquiry into Impact of Patent Trolls

Edith Ramirez, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, presented her recommendation for an investigation into the practices of “patent trolls” yesterday during a patent and antitrust seminar in Washington. Ramirez is calling for the FTC to use its subpoena power to launch a sweeping inquiry into patent-assertion entities (PAE’s, or patent trolls), which are known for purchasing bundles of patents in order to threaten infringement lawsuits. Continue reading FTC Chair Proposes Inquiry into Impact of Patent Trolls

Chief Execs Discuss Benefits of Mergers in Cable Sector

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei met several weeks ago with Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt to discuss the potential benefits of cable industry mergers, according to a person familiar with the matter. Liberty acquired a 27 percent stake in pay TV operator Charter Communications early last month. Ten days ago, Liberty Chairman John Malone told shareholders that Charter probably has “the best operating team in the business.” Continue reading Chief Execs Discuss Benefits of Mergers in Cable Sector

NCTA Cable Show: Battling Cord-Cutting with Technology

“TV Everywhere” and “cord-cutting” were major themes at this week’s NCTA Cable Show in Washington, D.C. where the industry presented technologies intended to sustain its relevancy. Examples included Roku and Xbox as cable set-tops, smartphones as remotes, iPads as TVs, a Slingbox product from Arris and more. Comcast unveiled its X2 cloud DVR and TiVo is expanding its TV Everywhere options with a new Web portal. Continue reading NCTA Cable Show: Battling Cord-Cutting with Technology

NCTA Cable Show: Comcast Unveils X2 Cloud-Based Platform

During the NCTA Cable Show this week in Washington D.C., Comcast CEO Brian Roberts unveiled the X2 cloud-based entertainment platform that will enable Xfinity TV subscribers to access live and on-demand television programming, online video, personalized recommendations and apps across platforms including computers, smartphones, tablets and TVs. The company has also upgraded its current X1 platform with a new “Send to TV” feature that allows users to send Web content to their set-top box. Continue reading NCTA Cable Show: Comcast Unveils X2 Cloud-Based Platform

Cable Show: Comcast to Create Crowdsourced Hotspot Network

At the National Cable and Telecommunications Association conference yesterday in Washington D.C., Comcast announced that it has begun shipping a new wireless gateway to its residential broadband customers that will serve as both a private Wi-Fi router and a public hotspot. The bold (and possibly controversial) move will enable Comcast to essentially crowdsource its Wi-Fi network, turning home gateways into public hotspots. Continue reading Cable Show: Comcast to Create Crowdsourced Hotspot Network

Tech Companies Support Federal Move Against Patent Trolls

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney described President Obama’s newly proposed patent policy yesterday during the daily press briefing. The administration introduced a package of executive orders and recommended legislation that takes aim at patent trolls. Technology companies have expressed early support for measures that they hope will help curb the growing onslaught of lawsuits negatively affecting innovation. Continue reading Tech Companies Support Federal Move Against Patent Trolls

Broadcast Networks Hope to Stop Aereokiller DC Expansion

Fox, NBC, ABC and Allbritton Communications have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington against Aereokiller, to block the streaming startup from expanding its service to the nation’s capital. Founded by FilmOn’s Alki David, Aereokiller gets its name from Barry Diller-backed Aereo. Last week we reported that David agreed to change his company name in order to settle a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Aereo. Continue reading Broadcast Networks Hope to Stop Aereokiller DC Expansion

TV App: Local Station Pursues Online and Mobile Viewers

As an increasing number of television viewers are accessing content via tablets and smartphones, apps from the likes of HBO, ESPN and Netflix are growing in popularity. Local TV stations may soon be taking a similar approach to pursuing online and mobile viewers. For example, NBC affiliate KHQ in Spokane, Washington launched its “Watch KHQ” app earlier this month. While content is currently limited, the app suggests a new direction by local broadcasters. Continue reading TV App: Local Station Pursues Online and Mobile Viewers

Gaming Takes Physical Therapy Program to the Next Level

At the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, doctors are taking a new approach to pain therapy. Patients are encouraged to be active through the use of interactive video gaming consoles such as the Xbox 360. This new type of therapy allows doctors to track data and progress of patients, while the children are physically and mentally stimulated in order to improve their health. Continue reading Gaming Takes Physical Therapy Program to the Next Level

Meeting of the Minds: Discussion on Data-Driven Societies

A group of academics, business executives and journalists recently gathered at the MIT Media Lab to discuss the concept of Data-Driven Societies. Alex Pentland, a computational social scientist at the Media Lab and a leading mind in the area of Big Data, hosted the meeting and discussed how increasing amounts of important information are becoming readily available on vast scales and are often all about consumer behavior. Continue reading Meeting of the Minds: Discussion on Data-Driven Societies

Tweet Seats: Will More Theaters Reserve Sections for Social Interaction?

  • Some theaters and performance groups are setting aside “tweet seats,” special sections for patrons to live-tweet during performances.
  • Rick Dildine, a theater festival director in St. Louis, says tweet seats have “become a national trend.”
  • “Coast to coast, theaters are experimenting with how to use ‘tweet seats’ effectively,” he explains. “The arts are evolving right now, they are participatory… Social media is a tool we rely on, and we have been unafraid to experiment with it.”
  • Some have placed tweet seats in the back row of theaters to minimize disruption, while others (including Carnegie Hall in NYC and the Kennedy Center in DC), “have not tried tweet seats and expect audience members not to access their phones during performances,” reports USA Today.
  • The article cites some interesting success stories of performances incorporating tweet seats, including a recent example involving the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO). “Tweeting the CSO’s performance was like attending a members-only social event in the midst of a traditionally formal setting,” said tweeter Jennifer Nissenbaum. “I could communicate openly about my reactions to the music, musicians and conductor — without speaking a word. Plus, I had the opportunity to engage others, and get their reactions to the performance.”

Privacy Watchdog Groups Ask the FTC to Investigate Facebook Features

  • An association of privacy groups, led by the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, has asked for a federal investigation into Facebook features that broadcast new information about users. The new partnerships with media platforms allow Facebook to acquire extensive data about user behavior.
  • “That information could also be made available to marketing companies for use in focusing advertisements, and potentially to government agencies interested in tracking people’s behavior,” suggests The New York Times.
  • In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, privacy advocates wrote, “frictionless sharing creates several privacy and security problems for users.”
  • Facebook responded by explaining its users have more control than what is being suggested. “Some groups believe people shouldn’t have the option to easily share the songs they are listening to or other content with their friends,” company spokesman Andrew Noyes communicated via e-mail. “We couldn’t disagree more and have built a system that people can choose to use, and we hope people will give it a try. If not, they can simply continue listening and reading as they always have.”
  • According to the article, “the FTC does not comment on whether it is investigating any company unless it has some results to release.”