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Google Launches AI Chat App Allo

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

allo-1-150x150Google-parent Alphabet Inc rolled out Allo, a messaging app that integrates Google’s search feature and a chatbot that uses machine learning to “improve” itself over time.

The new messaging service, which was unveiled in May, will compete with Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp and Messenger. The much-anticipated launch comes a month after Google rolled out Duo, its video calling app.

Allo features a chatbot powered by Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant like Apple Inc’s Siri.

Users can call up the assistant in a chat by typing “@google” followed by a search query and the results will be displayed in the chat itself.

“The more you use it, the more it improves over time,” Amit Fulay, group product manager, wrote in a blog post.

The app has a “Smart Reply” feature that suggests responses to chats and can be send with just a tap.

“If your friend sends you a photo of their pet, you might see Smart Reply suggestions like ‘aww cute!’,” Fulay wrote.

Users can also use stickers and scribble on photos before sending them.

Allo will have end-to-end encryption only while chatting in “Incognito” mode. Whatsapp chats have end-to-end encryption.

Google has started rolling out Allo and said the app would be available worldwide in the next few days.

AT&T Announces Low-cost, High-speed Wireless Internet Service AirGig

September 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

att-logo-5-150x150AT&T unveiled a low-cost, high-speed wireless internet technology that relies on plastic antennas stationed along medium-voltage power lines.

The signals will not travel through the conductive materials inside the power lines, as with more expensive technologies that were tried and mostly failed a decade ago, AT&T executives said on a conference call.

Instead, the plastic antennas will be attached to the power lines and serve as a mesh network to distribute signals to homes and businesses. To test the technology, AT&T is looking for a location somewhere in the next year with a favorable regulatory environment, since the carrier would need to partner with an existing electric utility.

The project, called AirGig, relies on more than 100 patents, according to an AT&T statement. There is no direct electrical connection to the power lines, although network components could receive their needed power through inductive physical principals just by their proximity to the lines, AT&T Chief Technology Officer Andre Fuetsch explained.

AT&T said the testing will decide what frequency AirGig will use for commercial deployment, which could occur sometime around 2020, after the carrier rolls out 5G wireless. The frequency AT&T uses will affect the range of the signal and the speed, as well as whether it is over a licensed or unlicensed band.

By using power lines, AirGig avoids the expense of digging trenches to lay fiber optic cable. A utility company would be able to use the technology to help spot problems on its power lines from something like a downed tree.

“It’s a transformative technology that delivers low-cost and multigigabit speeds using power lines,” said John Donovan, chief strategy officer for AT&T. “There’s no need for enhancements for new towers, and it’s over existing infrastructure.”

Aside from saying it is low-cost, AT&T didn’t offer details. A location for the field testing will be offered soon, officials said.

AirGig has already been tested in outdoor locations on campus settings. “We’ve had it up and running 4k video and cameras on campuses for quite some time,” Donovan said.

He said the trial could be in an area where existing broadband is expensive, even in the U.S.

Twitter’s Livestream of NFL Game Touted As A Success

September 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-livestream-150x150Twitter Inc received an average of 243,000 viewers to Thursday’s National Football League livestream of the New York Jets triumph over the Buffalo Bills, the first time the social media platform has broadcast an NFL game.

The event drew mostly praise from Twitter users and media experts have said the NFL deal helps Twitter maintain its position as a venue for live video.

Still, the Twitter audience was only a fraction of the average of 15.7 million people watching across television and digital platforms, according to NFL data of the game, which the Jets won, 37-31.

Twitter’s arrangement with the NFL comes as sports fans increasingly rely on the internet to watch video at the expense of traditional cable and satellite connections.

The microblogging platform has struggled with user growth and advertising competition, and livestreaming the games gives it a new avenue to attract users as it tries to catch up with rivals such as Facebook Inc.

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA  Ford Motor Co, Bank of America Corp and Verizon Communications were among the brands that ran video ads during the game’s livestream.

The deal with the NFL has the potential to reignite brands’ interest in working more with Twitter after it has had a bumpy ride over the past several months, said Victor Pineiro, senior vice president, social media at Big Spaceship, a Brooklyn, New York-based digital ad agency.

“We still see a big role for it,” he said.

For example, there is an opportunity for brands to be part of the conversation around the games through sponsored tweets and other means, said Edithann Ramey, vice president, marketing for Chili’s Grill and Bar, a Dallas-based restaurant chain.

“It’s very intriguing to us in terms of the number of impression they bring and ways we can jump in and be part of the conversation,” Ramey said.

witter is the second tech company to livestream an NFL game. In October, Yahoo Inc livestreamed a game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills in London, which attracted an average of 2.36 million viewers, versus the 243,000 in the Twitter game.

About 15.2 million viewers watched at least part of the game on Yahoo, while a total of 2.3 million people tuned into Thursday’s game or pregame show on Twitter for at least three seconds, according to the NFL.

The Yahoo game, however, was not broadcast on U.S. TV nationwide and in some cases, the stream automatically started playing on Yahoo websites.

 

Twitter Launches New Video Streaming Service

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-jack-dorsey-150x150Twitter Inc rolled out a new video streaming application for Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc TV platforms, as well as Microsoft Corp’s Xbox One gaming console as it brings its video content to the forefront.

The application will also be available for users of these devices without a Twitter account or a pay-TV subscription, the company said.

The application will feature video content from a number of Twitter’s partners, including the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, as well as curated tweets and shorter video from its Vine and Periscope services.

The news comes a day ahead of the first of the 10 NFL Thursday night games that Twitter obtained streaming rights for in April.

Jack Dorsey-led Twitter has made a significant push into video, signing deals with several media companies and sports organizations to stream major events.

Twitter To Further Loosen 140 Character Limit In Tweets

September 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-logo-4-150x150Twitter reportedly will further relax restrictions on its 140-character limit for tweets as soon as next week.

Reports emerged in June that Twitter was looking to expand its character limit – maybe even giving users a 10,000-character limit. But while a change may be in the offing, it doesn’t look to be nearly that dramatic.

According to The Verge, Twitter will make a change to its character limit on Sept. 19.

The company will not exactly expand the number of characters it allows, but will stop counting some things, like images, GIFs and videos, against the limit. Twitter may also stop counting user names at the beginning of replies.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, the change would be a good thing.

“It’s certainly a small difference, but I know I appreciate it,” he said. “I like the discipline of the character limit, but I don’t like having to try and fit in names and links.”
However, Gottheil wouldn’t want to see Twitter do away with the limit all together.

“Sometimes you want more room, but that would happen with any limit, and not having a limit would make it a totally different experience,” he said. “So you live with 140, but it’s nice that it will be 140 for what you write, not 140 less things like names. It will also encourage you to include more names, which should add to the community feel.”

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said such a shift by Twitter could lead to more.

“Users want more room to tweet when they’ve added something like a picture or video,” he added. “This could be the start of something they could build momentum around…. Recently, Twitter has been taking more steps backwards than forward. Twitter isn’t growing, and in social media if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking. To make progress, they need momentum to move them forward and this move could be a start.”

 

Intel Envisions A Big Market For Mixed Reality Headsets

September 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

intel-project-alloy-150x150Intel believes untethered headsets may be a new class of computers in the future, and the company may develop chips dedicated to those devices.

The chipmaker previewed its virtual and augmented reality plans last month with Project Alloy, a Microsoft HoloLens-type headset that can mix images from real and virtual worlds. Project Alloy will be available for PC makers to replicate, but Intel may also see a market for mixed reality headset chips.

Project Alloy is a prototype headset running on Microsoft’s Windows Holographic platform, and it could support other VR and AR platforms in the future.

The Alloy design and specifications will be open-sourced early next year. PC makers have expressed interest in making headsets based on the design.

Just like it has done with PCs, Intel is trying to provide guidance to device makers on how to design headsets, integrate hardware, and resolve camera issues, as well as provide ideas on production and productizing, said Venkata Renduchintala, president of the client and internet of things businesses and the Systems Architecture Group at Intel.

Mixed reality can generate a new class of VR/AR products and will probably generate “a custom piece of silicon built on the PC platform to exemplify and amplify the use case,” said Renduchintala, nicknamed Murthy.

The Project Alloy headset has a Skylake laptop chip, but as of now, the company has no dedicated chip for headsets that are also self-contained computers. Intel recently announced new 7th Generation Core PC chips code-named Kaby Lake but has no specific chip for all-in-one headset computers in that lineup.

VR is already catching on quickly, with products like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive — which need to be wired to PC with high-end GPUs — getting a lot of attention.

Spurred by HoloLens, there are efforts to develop untethered PC-style VR and AR headsets, but the makers need to address problems related to wireless connectivity and battery life. Mobile VR — in which smartphones are placed in headsets — is taking off with products like Samsung’s GearVR.

Analyst firms are projecting headset shipments to grow, and it makes sense for Intel to have VR-specific chips. IDC is projecting VR/AR headset shipments to reach 9.6 million units this year, and 110 million units by 2020.

Intel is backing more PC-style mixed reality experiences over mobile VR. Project Alloy provides a powerful mixed reality experience, and that’s the kind of market Intel wants to develop, Renduchintala said.

 

Pandora, Amazon Both To Launch New Music Streaming Service

September 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

amazon-music-150x150Amazon.com Inc and Pandora Media Inc are gearing up to roll out new versions of their streaming music services in coming weeks, the New York Times has reported, citing several anonymous people with knowledge of the matter.

Pandora could announce its plans this to expand its $5-per-month platform this week, with possible features including skipping more songs or storing several hours of playlists, the newspaper said. The company plans to launch a full-fledged on-demand platform by Christmas. Such a platform, priced at $10 a month, would compete with Spotify and Apple Inc’ Apple Music.

Amazon, meanwhile, is expected to reveal a platform with a large catalog of music for $10 per month or about half that amount for customers using its Echo voice-activated speakers, according to the Times.

Both companies are close to completing months of negotiations for deals with record companies and music publishers that will allow them to offer the new services, the Times reported.

Amazon was preparing to launch a standalone music streaming subscription service at $9.99 per month, in line with major rivals, Reuters reported in June, citing sources.

Amazon so far has not responded to a request for comment. Pandora declined to comment.

Intel Updates Its HD Graphics Ensemble

September 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-intel-hdIntel has released a new version of its HD Graphics package.

Dubbed the 20.19.15.4501 driver, the software adds Unify colours for different panels and support for 5K3K panel. It also provides content protection for Overlay and non-Overlay drivers.

The 6th-gen camera pipe gets Windows 7 support and will allow for three DVI/HDMI displays on 6th-gen processors and x2 DP mode for type-C systems. Other improvements include a new LACE(Local Adaptive Contrast Enhancement) feature, because you can never have too much lace.

Intel said that the update improves the DX12 performance on some benchmarks. It also selects outputs to be active when more compatible displays are available, and synchronizes the operating system and driver gamma values.

It also has a fix in the OGL component to resolve TDR problems when running the 3D-CAD application “FJICAD/SX,” and removes the bug that prevented the display from switching back to LCD-only in certain situations.

Intel has provided two downloadable archives suitable for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 operating systems, one for each 32 and 64-bit architecture.

Courtesy-Fud

Raspberry Pi Making Gains

September 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Since it was launched in 2012, the Raspberry Pi has sold 10 million units, making it the most popular British computer ever.

A new starter kit for Raspberry Pi, including a keyboard and mouse, has been released to celebrate the success. The kit also includes an SD storage card, official case, power supply, HDMI cable, mouse, keyboard and guidebook – it costs $120.00 plus VAT and will be available in the coming weeks.

Company founder Eben Upton wrote in his bog that he thought they might sell 10,000 units during the product’s lifetime and were a little surprised about the product’s success.

“There was no expectation that adults would use Raspberry Pi, no expectation of commercial success and certainly no expectation that four years later we would be manufacturing tens of thousands of units a day in the UK and exporting Raspberry Pi all over the world.”

The mini-PCs are being used for more than just teaching kids how to assemble PCs. They are useful for setting up smart houses and other settings. One was even used in the hacker drama Mr Robot to bring down eVil corp by triggering the heating systems.

Courtesy-Fud

AT&T, Qualcomm To Test Drones On Wireless Networks

September 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Qualcomm-drones-150x150AT&T and Qualcomm announced that  they will team up and begin testing drones on commercial 4G LTE wireless networks.

The companies want to test how drones can operate safely and more securely on commercial 4G LTE and upcoming 5G networks, they said in a joint statement. Trials begin later in September at Qualcomm’s San Diego campus.

Researchers said the goal is to help enable future drone operations, including when regulations evolve to allow drones to fly beyond an operator’s line of sight. With that capability, a drone could be used for deliveries of packages and other goods, as well as for remote inspections and explorations. A drone, for example, could assess damage in a hurricane or windstorm, but would probably need to fly well beyond of the vision of an operator.

To deliver packages or conduct inspections and searches will require a highly secure and reliable wireless connection, something that LTE has the potential to provide. LTE connections could deliver flight plans wirelessly to drones and track their location and adjust flight routes in near real-time.

“Solving the connectivity challenges of complex flight operations is an essential first step in enabling how drones will work in the future,” Chris Penrose, senior vice president of Internet of Things Solutions at AT&T, said in a statement.

Qualcomm will use its Snapdragon Flight drone software and chip development platform for control and navigation. The chip is already in use in some commercially available drones. It allows high fidelity sensor processing, autonomous visual navigation and 4k video.

Qualcomm CTO Matt Grob is expected to discuss the LTE-based drone test during a keynote at CTIA Super Mobility in Las Vegas on Thursday.

AT&T said at CES in January that it was collaborating with another major player, Intel, on drone research. The effort with Qualcomm is new.

 

Twitter Has A Plan To Share Revenue With Its Users

September 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc is upping the ante in its battle to lureTwitter-videos-1-150x150 video talent to its platform, saying it will allow U.S. users who upload a video to share in any advertising revenue it generates.

Twitter, Facebook Inc, Snapchat and YouTube are all competing to keep or recruit top video talent as they seek to cash in on the wave of televison-style advertising that has been moving to the internet.

Twitter already offers revenue sharing to media and entertainment companies such as CBS Corp and the National Football League which post videos through its Amplify Publisher Program. That option will now be open to any Twitter user, Twitter said in a blog post.

YouTube has long offered its video stars a cut of revenue. Facebook, for its part, has ramped up its Live video product in recent months and paid a relatively small number of media companies and celebrities to generate video.

Facebook said it is testing ways to “create a sustainable, long-term monetization model for live video that includes new and different ways of sharing revenue with some partners.”

Instagram and Snapchat also rely heavily on celebrities, who often have millions of followers, to encourage user engagement and growth by posting personal photos and videos.

Twitter’s new program will offer video creators a 70 percent share of revenue. YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, shares 55 percent of the ad revenue with content creators.

Twitter said individual users would also be allowed to share their videos on other platforms.

Under Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, the company has made a significant push into video, signing deals with several media companies and sports organizations to stream major events.

 

HipChat Adds Videocalling Feature

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hipchat-video-calls-150x150It just became easier for HipChat customers to see one another whenever they want it. The company launched new group video calling and screen sharing functionality that lets up to 10 other people share a virtual face-to-face meeting.

Users can spin up a call in a HipChat channel, or bring additional people into a one-on-one video call. That way, people who work in far-flung teams can get onto the same page face-to-face, using the same software that they count on for text chat during the day.

HipChat’s announcement Thursday is a move to compete with both consumer services like Skype and Google Hangouts, as well as workplace videoconferencing systems like Lifesize and Skype for Business. The launch is particularly important for HipChat’s competition with Slack, which recently added group voice calls and has video calling on its roadmap.

Group video calls are only available for teams that pay for HipChat Plus, which costs $2 per user per month.

The new video calling features are based on technology HipChat vendor Atlassian acquired with the JitSi open source video-conferencing product. The company still makes the open source version available, but this integration brings video calling into HipChat natively.

Right now, group video calling is only available on HipChat’s desktop apps, but it will make its way to mobile in some form in the future.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Slack can answer with video calling features of its own, after the high-flying productivity startup acquired screen sharing company Screenhero in January 2015.

Some teams may still find themselves in need of dedicated videoconferencing services, if they use specialized hardware for video meetings or if their needs exceed what HipChat can offer. For example, meetings in HipChat can’t have moderators with special privileges, and are limited to 10 participants at launch.

 

Apple Finally Jumps On The AR Bandwagon

August 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple is trying to convince the world it is “coming up with something new” by talking a lot about Artificial Reality.

It is a fairly logical development, the company has operated a reality distortion field to create an alternative universe where its products are new and revolutionary and light years ahead of everyone else’s. It will be curious to see how Apple integrates its reality with the real world, given that it is having a problem with that.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been doing his best to convince the world that Apple really is working on something. He needs to do this as the iPhone cash cow starts to dry up and Jobs Mob appears to have no products to replace it.

In an interview with The Washington Post published Sunday, Cook said Apple is “doing a lot of things” with augmented reality (AR), the technology that puts digital images on top of the real world.
He said:

“I think AR is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology. So, yes, it’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain we talked about.”

However Apple is light years behind working being done by Microsoft with its Microsoft’s HoloLens headset and the startup Magic Leap’s so-called cinematic reality that’s being developed now.

Cook appears to retreat to AR whenever he is under pressure. But so far he has never actually said that the company is developing any.

Appple has also snapped up several companies and experts in the AR space. And in January, the Financial Times claimed that the company has a division of hundreds of people researching the technology.
But AR would be a hard fit to get a product out which fits Apple’s ethos and certainly not one for years. Meanwhile it is unlikely we will see anything new before Microsoft and Google get their products out.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Intel Goes Deeper Into A.I. With Nervana

August 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has acquired artificial intelligence (AI) startup Nervana Systems in a bid to future-proof its data centre business and shift focus away from the flailing PC market.

Intel hasn’t revealed the financial details of the deal, but Recode reported that the company paid “more than $400m”, citing an anonymous source.

Nervana, a 48-person firm based in San Diego, California led by co-founder Naveen Rao, a former Qualcomm researcher, was founded in 2014 and offers a fully optimized software and hardware stack for deep learning.

The firm’s cloud-based service allows businesses to build and deploy applications that make use of deep learning, and Nervana has developed a custom processor, known as an ASIC, especially for deep learning.

Intel is looking to the firm to bolster its own deep learning credentials, betting big on the fact that AI represents the next big shift in corporate data centres. The purchase also sees the firm moving away from the PC market, which hasn’t been going too well for Intel lately.

Diane Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Centre Group, said: “I’m excited to announce that Intel signed a definitive agreement to acquire Nervana Systems, a recognized leader in deep learning.

“Their IP and expertise in accelerating deep learning algorithms will expand Intel’s capabilities in the field of AI. We will apply Nervana’s software expertise to further optimise the Intel Math Kernel Library and its integration into industry-standard frameworks.

“Nervana’s engine and silicon expertise will advance Intel’s AI portfolio and enhance the deep learning performance and TCO of Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi processors.”

Rao added: “The semiconductor integrated circuit is one of humanity’s crowning achievements and Intel has the best semiconductor technology in the world.

“Nervana’s AI expertise combined with Intel’s capabilities and huge market reach will allow us to realize our vision and create something truly special.”

Intel’s acquisition of Nervana comes just days after Apple scooped up an AI startup called Turi. The firm handed over £150m for the Seattle-based firm, according to reports.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

IoT Growth Outpacing Smartphones Now

August 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

For the first time, U.S. mobile carriers are adding IoT connections to their networks faster than they’re adding smartphones.

In fact, cars alone are getting connected to cellular networks faster than anything else, according to statistics compiled by Chetan Sharma Consulting for the second quarter of this year. Counting all U.S. carriers, about 1.4 million cars got connected to cellular networks in the quarter, compared with 1.2 million phones and less than 900,000 tablets.

The second quarter, between April and June, isn’t a high point for new phone sales like the fourth quarter, when holiday shopping hits and new iPhone models roll out. But IoT growth has been a long-term trend.

AT&T, the carrier that’s led in connected cars, has already been adding them faster than phones and tablets combined for seven consecutive quarters, says Sharma, a longtime mobile industry analyst. AT&T’s on track to reach 10 million car connections soon, he said.

For now, most of those cars have been tuning in without their drivers lifting a finger, Sharma said. It’s the car companies that are rolling out vehicles with live cellular connections, which can help them do things like monitor the condition of their cars, update the software on board, and learn things that could help them improve future models. Keeping vehicles online may also reduce the need for expensive recalls where cars have to come back into the shop.

It’s taking a little longer for consumers to start using the cell services in their cars. One reason is that people already drive around with a network connection through their cell phones, which can even provide a pipeline for vehicle data through IoT device-and-app combinations like Automatic.

Sharma’s quarterly report also showed how successful mobile data as a whole has become in the U.S. In the second quarter, it accounted for more than three-quarters of mobile carriers’ revenue for the first time. It helps that the U.S. is No. 3 in the world for mobile data consumption per subscriber, per month, according to Sharma.

 

 

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