Simplygon takes 3D models in a number of formats, and reduces the volume of data used to describe them by taking out some of the detail — somewhat like reducing the size of a JPEG image file by increasing the level of compression while leaving the resolution unchanged.
That means the models can be rendered more rapidly or with less powerful hardware, something that will help Microsoft with the “3D for everyone” vision it outlined last October at the launch of Windows 10 Creators Update.
The company is pushing hard into the markets for virtual reality, with a U.S.$300 consumer VR headset for PCs due out as early as March, and augmented reality, where it is seeking to build an ecosystem around Hololens, its enterprise-oriented stand-alone AR headset.
3D models, whether for video games, architectural rendering, or viewing in augmented or virtual reality, are typically composed of many adjoining flat surfaces, or polygons. The more polygons that are used, the better the model is able to represent complex curved surfaces — but the more memory and processing power it takes to render, or draw on the screen.
Simplygon works best with rendering engines that use a similar density of polygons throughout, simplifying the model to describe flatter parts with fewer polygons, while retaining more polygons in more complex areas, so that they don’t look blocky.
Using this technique, the company says it can reduce the number of polygons used in a model by up to 90 percent, while still retaining the essential details and shape.
For Kudo Tsunoda, corporate vice president for next-gen experiences in Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, the acquisition will make it easier for Windows users to capture, create, and share 3D models.
“It builds on and extends our aspirations to empower a new wave of creativity with the Windows 10 Creators Update, Paint 3D and our online creator community at Remix3D.com,” he said in a post on Microsoft’s blog announcing the deal.
Simplygon was developed by 10-year-old Donya Labs, based in Linköping, Sweden. CEO Matt Connors, founder and CTO Ulrik Lindahl and co-founder Koshi Hamedi will join Microsoft following the acquisition, according to the companies’ websites. They did not provide information about the terms of the deal.
The biggest market for Simplygon is in 3D game design, where it was used by the developer of the game Submerge to reduce the size of models designed for PCs and consoles when the game was ported to iOS.
Panasonic Corp is looking to deepen its partnership with electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc beyond batteries and into self-driving technology, as the Japanese conglomerate continues pivoting towards the automotive business.
The electronics maker has placed automotive applications at the center of a growth strategy that targets corporate clients at the expense of low-margin consumer goods, where low-cost Asian rivals have diminished the dominance of Japanese firms.
Panasonic is the exclusive supplier of batteries for Tesla’s Model S, Model X and upcoming mass market Model 3, and plans to contribute $1.6 billion to Tesla’s $5 billion battery factory.
One candidate would be so-called organic photoconductive film CMOS image sensors currently under development at Panasonic, which enable high-speed sensing of moving objects without distortion, Tsuga said.
Panasonic aims to add such technology to an automotive business that also includes cockpit displays and navigation systems. It targets annual sales of 2 trillion yen ($17.43 billion) for that business in the year through March 2019, from 1.3 trillion yen in the year ended March 2016.
As well as automotive, Panasonic and Tesla work together in solar energy. The Japanese firm last month said it plans to invest more than 30 billion yen in a Tesla factory making photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules.
Apple has decided that the reason that people are not buying its tablets is because they don’t have enough over-priced versions available.
To fix this problem Apple is planning to release three more tablets which contain all the same features you can find in cheaper Chinese Tablets at half the price.
According to Digitimes Apple will release three new tablets for 2017, a 9.7-inch iPad, a 10.5-inch iPad, and an upgraded 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The 9.7-inch model expected to enter mass production in the first quarter followed by the other two in the second.
It is odd really as Apple was thought to want to kill off the 9.7 inch pad and replace it with the 10.5-inch iPad. However not it seems that it wants to make the 9.7-inch iPad become an entry-level device. It can then flog these to corrupt or stupid school managers who don’t know that they can save their schools cash by going elsewhere .
There will be a few supply changes too. Apple will also procure components from its secondary suppliers for its new 9.7-inch iPad and Korea-based Seoul Semiconductor will supply LED for the device instead of the existing 9.7-inch iPad’s supplier Nichia.
The 10.5-inch iPad and 12.9-inch iPad Pro will get an A10X processor, but that is pretty much anyone knows for now. Our guess is that it will look pretty much like a tablet, have a similar price tag and be even more ignored than the current batch.
The Japanese company said that it positions its memory unit as a business focus.
The announcement by Toshiba follows news reports that the company was planning to spin off its semiconductor business. The company is considering selling a “partial stake” in its semiconductor business to Western Digital in the U.S. to raise funds due to losses in its U.S. nuclear plant unit, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.
The company may sell a 20 percent stake in the memory business for up to $2.65 billion, according to the newspaper.
Western Digital last year acquired SanDisk, which has been a long-term partner of Toshiba, with the two companies partnering in the fabrication of nonvolatile memories. The joint venture has provided SanDisk with stable NAND supply in volume and extends across memory technologies such as 3D NAND.
Western Digital said in 2015 that with the acquisition of SanDisk, it could integrate into the NAND business and ensure long-term access to solid state technology at lower cost. Similar considerations may also be driving Western Digital’s reported interest in Toshiba’s memory business.
Beancounters at Accenture and their chums at the financial services consulting firm McLagan have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and worked out that these savings could mean $8-12 billion each year.
According to the report, which has the catchy title “Banking on Blockchain: A Value Analysis for Investment Banks” the technology could solve a lot of the financial industry’s problems.
Richard Lumb, Accenture’s group chief executive for financial services said that capital markets institutions have faced a perfect storm of regulatory-compliance costs and revenue pressures recently.
Blockchain would enable banks to move to a shared, distributed database that spans multiple organisations. With the technology, records of transactions exist in a tamper-evident data structure that provides the required levels of data security and can be verified across a network of participants, he added.
David Treat, managing director for Accenture’s financial services industry blockchain practice, said: “Given the tremendous cost of data reconciliation – which is part of every aspect of the capital markets industry – it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a significant amount of investment in blockchain technology. But, as with any emerging technology, understanding what these investments might yield is a challenge.”
By replacing independent, fragmented databases with a distributed system, banks can reduce data reconciliation costs while also improving data quality and ensuring data security.
Finance reporting costs could decrease by 70 percent because of optimized data quality and banks could save up to 50 percent on compliance costs due to the improved transparency of transactions.
It has become increasingly obvious in recent months that blockchain will be key to the future of the banking industry, with most banks expected to adopt the technology within the next three years.
Chinese search engine Baidu Inc announced that it has launched an augmented reality (AR) lab in Beijing as part of a $200 million effort to revitalize the company’s shrinking profits with cutting edge technology.
The lab, which currently employs 55 people, will initially aim to drive revenue through AR marketing, though will later explore healthcare and education.
“AR marketing is taking off,” Andrew Ng, the chief scientist overseeing Baidu’s artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality and deep learning projects, told Reuters.
Popularised in 2016 by Nintendo Co Ltd’s Pokemon Go game, augmented reality involves rendering virtual images over real life settings viewed on a smartphone, headset or other device. In marketing, the software can be used to animate a product or a branded space.
Baidu’s AR launch comes as the company gears up to report full-year earnings next month. It has forecast a revenue drop of around 4.6 percent as it grapples with the aftermath of new government curbs on medical advertising. Those curbs have slashed into the profits of its core search business and saw ad customers drop 16 percent in the quarter ended in September.
The company injected $200 million into its AI and AR unit in September in an effort to kick start new growth, followed by the announcement of a $3 billion investment fund announced in October focusing on mid-to-late stage startups.
The company in a statement said it is currently working with AR in China with Yum! Brands Inc’s KFC, BMW and L’Oreal SA’s Lancome among other brands, and has demonstrated a small range of high-end applications.
Baidu began working on the technology two years ago, and is working on integrating it with AI to produce visuals capable of interacting with real-time surroundings, unlike current popular AR games.
“It’s working quite well now, but it’s clear that it could be better,” said Ng. “I’m quite optimistic.”
AR technology is still going through a regulatory teething phase in China. While Pokemon Go is yet to launch there, location-based AR concepts have sprung up, drawing the ire of regulators who have refused to license some services over security concerns.
According to Ng, Baidu is yet to run into the same issues.
“I feel like the abilities for AR have risen up in China faster than the Western world may be aware,” said Ng.
The rules took effect Monday, in a country where domestic third-party app stores — not from Apple or Google — are serving billions of downloads to Android smartphones. Chinese internet companies such as Baidu, Tencent and a host of smaller, shadier local app stores have been feeding the demand, at a time when Google has largely pulled out of the market.
The government, however, has problems with the proliferation of app stores and the lack of industry oversight, the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement on Friday. Some app stores have been offering products that violate users’ rights, contain security vulnerabilities or spread “illegal information,” it said.
The new rules intend to force the stores to better audit their products. Cyberspace Administration officials will keep records on the app stores and investigate those that fail to register or which are found falsifying information.
However, in some cases, apps have provided one way for users to circumvent the strict controls. That happened with The New York Times, whose main website was blocked in the country in 2012.
Despite the censorship, the company’s news app was offered on Apple’s app store until China ordered its takedown earlier this month.
Third-party app stores in China have also been known to spread malware. Last year, a mobile Trojan likely sourced from the country managed to infect millions of devices across China, India and Indonesia by imitating Android apps.
The country has over 650 million mobile internet users, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. The huge user base has made its app stores some of the biggest in the world.
Financial technology vendor Misys is rolling out software that will allow banks to provide peer-to-peer lending to their customers as competition from young companies in the sector continues to intensify.
The technology would enable retail and corporate banks to connect their customers looking for loans with individual or institutional investors digitally, the private London-based software company said on Tuesday.
P2P lenders, which allow consumers and small businesses to borrow from investors online, emerged in response to a contraction in bank lending following the financial crisis of 2008.
Misys said the software would allow banks to maintain a relationship with clients that they would otherwise have to turn away without have to originate loans from their balance sheet.
“Banks are losing market share to P2P platform providers. By embedding crowdlending into the overall credit lifecycle, a bank can maintain and expand its client base, recapture business from alternative finance marketplaces and boost lending growth,” Jean-Cedric Jollant, senior product officer at Misys, told Reuters.
The launch comes as the nascent peer-to-peer lending sector expands, despite facing some growing pains. Research by Morgan Stanley estimates that P2P lending companies, also known as marketplace lenders, could originate up to $490 billion in loans globally by 2020.
Banks have been reacting to the trend by either partnering with younger companies or launching their own online lending operations. Spanish banking group Banco Santander in 2016 partnered with U.S. small business lender Kabbage to provide loans, while JP Morgan Chase & Co. previously partnered with OnDeck.
Jollant said Misys was launching the product because it was already an established provider of financial lending software to many large global lenders. He added that the company was in discussions “with a number of interested banks in the U.S., Europe and India.”
Microsoft discontinue issuing detailed security bulletins in February, which for nearly 20 years have provided individual users and IT professionals information about vulnerabilities and their patches.
One patching expert crossed his fingers that Microsoft would make good on its pledge to publish the same information when it switches to a new online database. “I’m on the fence right now,” said Chris Goettl, product manager with patch management vendor Shavlik, of the demise of bulletins. “We’ll have to see [the database] in February before we know how well Microsoft has done [keeping its promise].”
Microsoft announced the demise of bulletins in November, saying then that the last would be posted with January’s Patch Tuesday — the monthly round of security updates for Windows and other Microsoft software — and that the new process would kick in on Feb. 14, next month’s patch day.
The web-based bulletins have been a feature of Microsoft’s patch disclosure policies since at least 1998, and for almost as long have been considered the professional benchmark by security experts.
The documents stored in the database are specific to a vulnerability on an edition of Windows, or a version of another Microsoft product. They can be sorted and filtered by the affected software, the patch’s release date, its CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) identifier, and the numerical label of the KB, or “knowledge base” support document.
“Our customers have asked for better access to update information, as well as easier ways to customize their view to serve a diverse set of needs,” wrote an unnamed member of the Microsoft Security Response Center in November to explain the switch from bulletins to database.
Finnish mobile games and animation developer Rovio Entertainment is intensifying its search for new hit games by opening a studio in London to focus on multiplayer games that would not rely on the company’s Angry Birds brand.
Privately-held Rovio has struggled in recent years as profits from the Angry Birds franchise dropped, prompting deep job cuts and divestments.
But last year Rovio launched an animated Angry Birds 3D Hollywood film that it said did well at the box office and yielded new licensing deals.
“MMO is a genre that is growing in mobile, but it is not fully saturated. We are not looking for a niche position but a very wide, inclusive game,” Wilhelm Taht, head of games, told Reuters.
The original Angry Birds game, in which players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs, was launched in 2009 and it remains the top paid mobile app of all time.
Rovio exploited the brand early on by licensing its use on a string of consumer products. But the company’s failure to bring out new hit games resulted in falling profit, prompting Rovio to cut more than 300 jobs in 2014 and 2015.
“In the long term, our new characters may generate intellectual property and even a brand,” Taht said.
Rovio has a series of smartphone games based on Angry Birds characters. In 2015 it published a puzzle game called Nibblers and it will soon put out Battle Bay, a real-time multiplayer game.
Rovio is not looking to launch a large number of games this year, Taht added.
“Perhaps there’s been some change in our thinking here,” he said. “The market is favorable for games that will live long and that are operated with a service mindset.”
Asked about Nintendo’s hit smartphone game Pokemon GO, Taht said the game truly put augmented reality (AR) on the gaming map.
“We will, of course, be following AR as a technology and a tool,” he said.
In the first half of 2016 Rovio booked a small operating profit, compared with a loss a year earlier, help by growth in game sales.
Rovio has around 200 employees spread between its four game studios in Finland and Sweden and about 400 in total.
Airbus last year formed a division called Urban Air Mobility that is exploring concepts such as a vehicle to transport individuals or a helicopter-style vehicle that can carry multiple riders. The aim would be for people to book the vehicle using an app, similar to car-sharing schemes.
“One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders told the DLD digital tech conference in Munich, adding he hoped the Airbus could fly a demonstration vehicle for single-person transport by the end of the year.
Enders said Airbus, as the world’s largest maker of commercial helicopters, wanted to invest to make the most of new technologies such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence, to usher in what amounts to an era of flying cars.
“If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the business,” he said.
A spokesman for Airbus declined to say how much the company was investing in urban mobility.
The move to AI could be the one catalyst which could help AMD and Nvidia carve up Intel’s mighty kingdom.
Last year saw Microsoft, Apple, Google develop more software for ARM based chips. During the year AMD and Nvidia saw their stock prices rise as shareholders started to think that they might succeed in taking Intel’s crown.
On of the reasons for this is AI which is fast becoming a bigger buzz world than Interent of Things – which is the basket Intel is putting its eggs into.
AMD and Nvidia are both making perfect AI processors in their graphics cards and now that AMD has released Polaris it is properly in a game dominated by Nvidia. AMD’s Radeon Instinct is specifically designed for the market.
Intel is doing ok in the market but it is not growing as fast as AMD or Nvidia.
According to the Verge, investors are buying up AMD stock because they know the processing challenges of the future are practically tailored for the massively parallel architecture of a GPU.
Nvidia and IBM have revealed their own agreement to provide “the world’s fastest” deep learning enterprise solution.
AMD and Nvidia should do well in the growing consumer interest in virtual reality although that might be a bubble waiting to burst. On paper at least, the most popular HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, both require tons of GPU power. However it is a moot point if these machines are the ones that will make AR work or if it will be something much cheaper and require less spec.
But if AR does take off then it will be yet another thing that Intel missed out on.
Robots should be granted rights as “electronic persons,” members of the European Parliament recommended — but not until the machines are all fitted with “kill” switches to shut them down in an emergency.
Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee wants the European Commission to propose legislation that will settle a number of ethical and liability issues in the field of robotics — including who is to blame when an autonomous vehicle is involved in a collision.
Granting the more sophisticated autonomous robots some kind of electronic personhood could settle issues of who is responsible for their actions, the committee suggested. More urgent than the question of robot rights, though, is setting up an obligatory insurance scheme that would pay the victims of a self-driving car if it caused an accident in the European Union.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) also want an EU agency to advise on the technical, ethical, and regulatory issues around robotics, and a voluntary ethical code of conduct for those who design and work with robots. That code should include a requirement that designers put some kind of “kill” switch in their robots so that they can be shut down in an emergency.
That urgency, the MEPs said, is not so much because autonomous robots are likely to run amok any time soon, but rather that if the EU doesn’t move first, it will end up having to follow rules set by other countries.
Intriguingly, tax figures among the issues the MEPs want the Commission to take into consideration. For robots wanting the same rights as people, it could be a case of no representation without taxation.
The full Parliament will vote on the committee’s recommendation next month, but even if it agrees, the Commission is under no obligation to follow such a request for legislation.
The new pricing applies only to owners who purchase their electric vehicles after this Sunday. Those who bought vehicles before Jan. 15 will continue to receive free charging, the company said.
The company this week announced that its charging costs will vary from state to state and depend on which charging “tier” a driver is using. Tier 1 pricing, which applies to cars charging at or below 60 kW per minute, will cost half as much as cars using Tier 2 charging, which applies to cars charging above 60 kW per minute. In New York, Tier 2 charging will cost 20 cents a minute and in California, it will cost 19 cents.
Cars using fast charging or Tier 2 charging can attain about a half a full vehicle charge in 30 minutes — enough to travel up to 170 miles.
Tesla announced both kilowatt hour and by-minute pricing for its Supercharger stations, and said a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles (about 380 miles) would cost about $15. (A cross-country trip from Los Angeles to New York — about 2,800 miles — would run around $120 in charging fees.)
Tier 1 pricing also applies anytime your vehicle is sharing Supercharger power with another car. Supercharger pricing information can be viewed on the vehicle’s 17-in. touchscreen.
Tesla Model S and Model X cars ordered after Jan. 15 will receive 400 kWh (kilowatt-hour) of free Supercharging credits (roughly 1,000 miles) annually on the anniversary of their delivery.
“We carefully considered current Supercharger usage and found that 400 kWh covers the annual long-distance driving needs of the majority of our owners,” Tesla said in a blog. The company didn’t mention whether buyers of the Model 3 EV, due out in mid-2018, would also receive an annual free charging credit.
The Model 3 will be Tesla’s most affordable EV, with a starting price of about $35,000, and was originally slated to ship at the end of this year. Preorders for it have topped 400,000.
In North America, Tesla Supercharging pricing is fixed within each state or province. Internationally, pricing is fixed within each country, Tesla said.
When fully charged, the 85 kWh Model S sedan has a range of just over 300 miles, depending on road conditions and the speed at which it’s driven, according to Tesla.
“Where possible, owners are billed per kWh (kilowatt-hour), which is the most fair and simple method. In other areas, we bill for the service per minute,” the company explained on its website.
The fees for charging could provide Tesla with as much as $175 million in revenue just in this first year, according to Trip Chowdhry, managing director of equity research for Global Equities Research.
Japanese automaker Nissan said it will conduct its first European real-world trials of self-driving vehicles in London, choosing Britain just months after it said it would build two new models in the country despite concerns over Brexit.
The government has said it wants to encourage the development and testing of autonomous driving technology in Britain, helping build an industry to serve a worldwide market it reckons could be worth around 900 billion pounds ($1.1 trillion) by 2025.
On Friday Nissan said a modified version of its compact electric LEAF car equipped with autonomous driving technology will be tested in the capital next month, the first such demonstrations on European public roads.
In October the firm, which builds around a third of Britain’s total car output, said it would expand production at its plant in northeast England with what a source described as a government promise of extra support to counter any loss of competitiveness caused by Britain’s EU exit.