Meta Shifts Focus and Investments as It Looks to Cut Costs

Meta Platforms is reportedly ceasing production of consumer version of its Portal video calling device, but will continue manufacturing the Meta Portal (formerly Facebook Portal) — which can connect up to 50 participants — for business use, according to recent reports. The company is also said to be cutting back on Reality Labs investments, reportedly shelving plans to release the augmented reality glasses developed under the codename Project Nazare, expected to come to market in 2024, and is skipping ahead to a more advanced, second generation version. Continue reading Meta Shifts Focus and Investments as It Looks to Cut Costs

Billions of Dollars Are Vaporized in Cryptocurrency Meltdown

The bottom fell out of the cryptocurrency market last week, wiping out more than $300 billion in a sell-off that underscored the risks of the unregulated digital currencies. Bitcoin fell below $27,000, its lowest point since 2020, as part of a larger trend that saw cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase lose half its value. The stablecoin TerraUSD “imploded.” The panic has been described as the biggest reset in cryptocurrencies since Bitcoin fell by 80 percent in 2018. But the current crash is more severe, since far more people and institutions are investing in digital currencies today. Continue reading Billions of Dollars Are Vaporized in Cryptocurrency Meltdown

Microsoft Previews New Inclusive Tech Lab at Ability Summit

As part of its 12th annual Ability Summit, Microsoft is showcasing its new Inclusive Tech Lab, designed “to be an embassy for people with disabilities,” says the Redmond, Washington-based company, which also unveiled new software features and adaptive accessories to boost inclusion. The Inclusive Tech Lab will showcase Microsoft’s accessible hardware, software and services, and function as an incubator for inclusive design, the company says, calling it a place where “disability communities can ideate and evaluate product design and direction,” working with designers who are prepared to have their assumptions challenged. Continue reading Microsoft Previews New Inclusive Tech Lab at Ability Summit

Zoom Debuts Gesture Recognition, Virtual Whiteboard, More

Zoom has added features including gesture recognition and a virtual whiteboard. The new Zoom IQ for Sales uses AI to analyze calls. Zoom Events has added Backstage to simulate the look and feel of an in-person event with “a persistent space for event panelists and staff to communicate behind the scenes before, during, and after a Zoom Events webinar session.” Management can now view “breakout rooms” from a main session to assess how participants are engaging, and a Central Library of Polls lets organizers more efficiently manage polling data, both in preparation and to share results. Continue reading Zoom Debuts Gesture Recognition, Virtual Whiteboard, More

Netflix to Introduce Daily ‘Trivia Quest’ Game Show on April 1

Netflix will premiere daily interactive quiz series “Trivia Quest” on April 1. Based on Etermax’s hit game “Trivia Crack” — which Netflix says is “the No. 1 multi-platform trivia franchise in the world” — the streaming animated show will feature 24 questions (12 standard, 12 difficult) across categories including science, history, entertainment, sports, art and geography. As with Netflix’s prior interactive specials, “Trivia Quest” has a “narrative twist,” taking players on a mission to help Willy “rescue the animated citizens of Trivia Land from the Evil Rocky, who’s bent on hoarding all the knowledge in the world.” Continue reading Netflix to Introduce Daily ‘Trivia Quest’ Game Show on April 1

Big Tech in Spotlight as Russia Censors News of Ukraine War

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has focused attention on its attempts to censor Big Tech, but the nation’s most onerous recent move to control speech came last July, when President Vladimir Putin signed a law requiring foreign tech companies with more than 500,000 monthly visitors from within the Russian Federation to establish a physical presence within the country that would be held responsible for violations of local law. Russian authorities have warned companies including Meta, Apple, Google, TikTok and Twitter that they had until the end of February to comply with what has become known as “the landing law.” Continue reading Big Tech in Spotlight as Russia Censors News of Ukraine War

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

Facebook Unveils New Video Devices and Portal for Business

With COVID-19 continuing to drive the popularity of video chatting, Facebook is doubling down with new iterations of its Portal devices that includes the battery-powered Portal Go and a new Portal+ along with the announcement of Portal for Business, a service that will make it possible for small and mid-size businesses to purchase, deploy and remotely manage Portal devices for employees. Facebook’s Portal devices, which debuted in 2018, compete with Amazon’s Echo Show and Google’s Nest Hub products for the home. The recommitment indicates Facebook believes video calling is here to stay. Continue reading Facebook Unveils New Video Devices and Portal for Business

Microsoft Reveals Its New Laptops and Dual-Screen Portable

Microsoft unveiled its fall product line including the Surface Duo 2 folding phone, Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Pro X that comes in a Wi-Fi only version. The Duo 2 hits the streets October 21 and the others on October 5. The new devices will no doubt get a bounce from Windows 11, announced earlier this month with rollout to begin later this year. The Duo 2’s rear mounted camera with thee lenses is a welcome upgrade. The previous model had one lens and required that the case be opened and folded backward for taking photos. Another big change is the petite Laptop Studio, which has three modes enabled by a hinged case. Continue reading Microsoft Reveals Its New Laptops and Dual-Screen Portable

Facebook Rolls Out Its Neighborhoods Feature in Four Cities

Facebook tested “Neighborhoods” in Canada and is now rolling it out in four U.S. cities: Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; Newark, New Jersey; and San Diego, California. The new feature will be playing catch-up with similar social apps, including Nextdoor (which had 50 percent annual growth in daily active users last year), Amazon’s Neighbors by Ring, and crime-tracking app Citizen. Facebook’s Neighborhoods, which asks the user to introduce himself and list interests, aims to personalize the user’s experiences and ads. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Its Neighborhoods Feature in Four Cities

Google Expands Workspace Features and Opens to All Users

Google is providing full access to Workspace (formerly G Suite) for its 3+ billion existing users in consumer, enterprise and education markets. Users turn on Google Chat in Gmail to enable the full experience. Although Google Drive and Docs have already been free, Workspace brings features such as smart suggestions in emails and documents. Google is also debuting Google Workspace Individual, a paid version aimed at small business owners, offering “booking services, professional video meetings, personalized email marketing” and more. Continue reading Google Expands Workspace Features and Opens to All Users

Apple Unveils New OS, Privacy Updates and More at WWDC

Apple’s WWDC annual week-long developer conference kicked off with a first peak at iOS 15 enhancements. That includes the next version of FaceTime, which will more closely resemble Zoom, including a grid view for group calls and spatial audio and voice isolation features. The company teased new software updates for AirPods Pro and AirPods, and a multitasking menu for iPadOS 15, coming this fall. The upcoming watchOS 8 will boost fitness, sleep and meditation features. Among numerous other announcements, the company showed data privacy improvements and revealed that HomeKit will now support Siri. Continue reading Apple Unveils New OS, Privacy Updates and More at WWDC

LinkedIn Offers Feature for Brands to ‘Boost’ Organic Pages

LinkedIn added a “Boost” option that brands can use to maximize the reach of their posts. Any high-performing organic Page update can be turned into paid ads in this manner, explained LinkedIn, adding that if the brand sees “early traction” to an organic update, it can “capitalize on that, without having to create a new ad.” “With the click of a button and a few payment details, you can easily give your most engaging or time-sensitive content a little boost to quickly expand your audience reach,” the company added. Boost is touted as an ideal tool for content related to industry thought leadership, customer spotlights, and new product launches or special events. Continue reading LinkedIn Offers Feature for Brands to ‘Boost’ Organic Pages

ETC Executive Coffee: Warner on Future of Virtual Production

Ryan Beagan, vice president of virtual production at WarnerMedia, met virtually with USC students on April 21 for the fifth installment in ETC@USC’s Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series. Beagan engaged a group of six students and one recent alumnus in a one-hour discussion on “The Post-Pandemic Future of Virtual Production.” Graduate and undergraduate students in computer science, industrial engineering, theater, applied data, and film and television production discussed topics including sophisticated game engines, collaborative processes and new tools, and adapting to evolving compliance rules. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Warner on Future of Virtual Production

ETC Executive Coffee: Warner Executives Discuss AI, Ethics

“AI and Ethics” was the topic of ETC@USC’s March 30th Executive Coffee with… discussion, the third installment of the Spring 2021 series. WarnerMedia’s Renard Jenkins, vice president of content transmission and production, and Michael Zink, vice president of emerging and creative technologies, led the discussion with 12 graduate and undergraduate USC philosophy, cinema, engineering and innovation majors. They explored how diversity and bias impact AI development, and how AI is expected to impact entertainment experiences. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Warner Executives Discuss AI, Ethics