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Apple And Nokia Resolve Patent Dispute, Sees Future Collaboration

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has resolved a patent fight with Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia and agreed to purchase more of its network products and services.

The deal means Nokia will get bigger royalties from Apple for using its mobile phone patents, helping offset the impact of waning demand for its mobile network hardware.

Such legal battles are common in the industry but can drag on for years and analysts had not been expecting such a quick resolution to the dispute that started in December.

Under the deal announced in a joint statement from the companies on Tuesday, Nokia will also supply network infrastructure products to Apple, and Apple will resume sales of Nokia’s digital health products in retail and online stores and look at further collaboration in health.

Digital health is one of the areas Nokia is targeting as it tries to develop new businesses to offset the industry-wide slump in demand for network equipment. Last year, Nokia bought France’s Withings S.A., a small firm with products such as activity trackers and baby monitors built on digital platforms.

“There could emerge big future value from this as Apple could become an important distribution channel,” said Handelsbanken analyst Daniel Djurberg, who has an “accumulate” recommendation for Nokia shares.

“I have not given any value so far for Nokia’s digital health business, but might apply an option value to it.”

Nokia Chief Executive Rajeev Suri told the company’s annual general meeting later on Tuesday that the deal would help expand network sales beyond telecom operators to global internet and technology giants.

“(The deal) involves a business collaboration … in particular in areas of IP and optical equipment, which is quite key to webscale players when they build their data centers,” he said. “It’s a good deal, a multi-year licensing deal, and I love it that it has an industrial deal and aspect to it.”

Under the patent license agreement, Nokia will receive a “significant” upfront cash payment and additional revenues from Apple starting from the current quarter. The companies did not give further details but analysts said the revenue was likely to be far higher than a previous deal.

Inge Heydorn, fund manager at Sentat Asset Management, said it was a smart move to collaborate on digital health products.

“It’s interesting for Nokia in a five- to 10-year perspective since I think it will be hard to be profitable within mobile infrastructure,” said Heydorn, whose firm does not hold any shares in Nokia.

Qualcomm Previews Wireless Charging For Electric Vehicles

May 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Qualcomm Inc revealed that it had demonstrated how electric vehicles could be charged wirelessly while driving, a technology some believe will help accelerate the adoption of self-driving cars.

The smartphone chipmaker said a so-called “dynamic charging” test took place on a test track in Versailles, France. It used two Renault Kangoo vehicles driving over embedded pads in the road that transferred a charge to the cars’ batteries at up to 20 kilowatts at highway speeds.

Experts believe that self-driving cars of tomorrow will be electric and require a way to charge themselves without human intervention.

Wireless charging is an important area of research for carmakers, their suppliers and start-ups like xChargepoint, WiTricity and HEVO Power.

Qualcomm, which supplies chips to Android phone makers and Apple Inc, is on track to become the leading supplier to the fast-growing automotive chips market given its pending $38 billion takeover of NXP Semiconductors.

European Union regulators are to rule by June 9 on the deal, which would be the semiconductor industry’s biggest to date.

Electric vehicle charging is one area where Qualcomm could grow as it strives to reduce its dependence on a cooling smartphone market.

Qualcomm Chief Executive Steven Mollenkopf has called automotive technology and Internet of Things – in which household objects like cars and refrigerators communicate – a “tremendous opportunity” for the company.

EU Slaps Big Fine On Facebook Over WhatsApp Purchase

May 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

European Union antitrust regulators levied a fine of 110 million euros ($122 million) against Facebook on Thursday for providing misleading information during a vetting of its deal to acquire messaging service WhatsApp in 2014.

Calling it a “proportionate and deterrent fine”, the European Commission, which acts as the EU’s competition watchdog, said Facebook had said it could not automatically match user accounts on its namesake platform and WhatsApp but two years later launched a service that did exactly that.

“The Commission has found that, contrary to Facebook’s statements in the 2014 merger review process, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users’ identities already existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility,” the Commission said.

Facebook said in a statement the errors made in its 2014 filings were not intentional and that the Commission had confirmed they had not affected the outcome of the merger review.

“Today’s announcement brings this matter to a close,” Facebook said.

The fine would not reverse the Commission’s decision to clear the purchase of WhatsApp and was unrelated to separate investigations into data protection issues, it added.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Facebook was set to be fined.

The Commission could have fined Facebook up to 1 percent of its turnover – which would have been $276 million based on 2016 results – but said that Facebook had cooperated with the proceedings and acknowledged its infringement.

The EU sanction comes after Facebook received a separate 150,000-euro fine on Tuesday by a French data watchdog for failing to prevent its users’ data being accessed by advertisers.

Last week the Italian antitrust authorities levied a 3 million-euro fine on WhatsApp for allegedly obliging users to agree to share their personal data with Facebook.

EU Court Tackles ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Again

May 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The “right to be forgotten” – or prohibiting certain web search results from appearing under searches for people’s names – will be debated at the European Union’s top court after Alphabet Inc’s Google refused requests from four individuals.

In May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled that people could ask search engines, such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing, to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from web results appearing under searches for people’s names – dubbed the “right to be forgotten”.

Google has since received over 720,000 removal requests and accepted about 43 percent of them, according to its transparency report.

Four individuals who had asked Google to remove links to webpages about them appealed to the French data protection authority after the search engine company refused their request.

The French privacy regulator, the CNIL, agreed with Google’s decision, prompting the individuals to take their case to the French Conseil d’Etat, France’s supreme administrative court, which referred it to the Luxembourg-based ECJ.

The ECJ “now has to decide whether ‘sensitive personal data’ — such as the political allegiance of an individual, or a past criminal conviction reported in the press — should always outweigh the public interest”, Google’s senior privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in a blogpost.

“Requiring automatic delisting from search engines, without any public interest balancing test, risks creating a dangerous loophole. Such a loophole would enable anyone to demand removal of links that should remain up in the public interest, simply by claiming they contain some element of sensitive personal data.”

A Conseil de’Etat statement said the requests from the individuals concerned a video that “explicitly revealed the nature of the relationship that an applicant was deemed to have entertained with a person holding a public office”; a press article on the suicide of a member of the Church of Scientology mentioning that one of the applicants was the public relations manager of that church; several articles related to criminal proceedings of an applicant; and articles about the conviction of another applicant for having sexually abused minors.

The French court said a number of “serious issues” had arisen with regard to the interpretation of European law in the case before it.

“Such issues are in relation with the obligations applying to the operator of a search engine with regard to web pages that contain sensitive data, when collecting and processing such information is illegal or very narrowly framed by legislation, on the grounds of its content relating to sexual orientations, political, religious or philosophical opinions, criminal offences, convictions or safety measures,” the court said.

The CNIl declined comment at this point of the court procedure.

The case number is C-136/17. A date for the hearing has not been set.

“We will be advocating strongly for the public interest balancing test to apply to all types of delisting requests—including those containing sensitive personal data,” Fleischer said.

Does Facebook Having A Coding Bias?

May 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

According to The Wall Street Journal, female engineers who work at Facebook may face gender bias that prevents their code from being accepted at the same rate as male counterparts.

Code written by women was less likely to make it through Facebook’s internal peer review system. It is unlikely that women write shittier code than blokes, so it means that the peer review is being harder on women than men.

It means that Facebook’s efforts at diversity efforts are just rubbish. The company’s workforce is just 33 percent female, with women holding just 17 percent of technical roles and 27 percent of leadership positions. So if those women have to work harder than men because their work is going to be more heavily scrutinised it is rather unfair.

To be fair, Facebook was alarmed by this data and commissioned a second study by Jay Parikh, its head of infrastructure, to investigate any potential issues.

Parikh’s findings suggested that the code rejections were due to engineering rank, not gender. So the issue is that because women do not rise to the top as fast as men statistically they are more likely to be stuck in a grade where there are picked on.

Either possibility could result in the 35 percent higher code rejection rate for female engineers.

Courtesy-Fud

Peugeot, nuTonomy Team Up On Self-Driving Cars

May 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

French auto maker Peugeot is teaming up with Boston, Massachusetts-based tech firm nuTonomy to test self-driving cars in Singapore.

NuTonomy’s software, sensors and computing platforms will be installed in Peugeot 3008 models as part of plans to develop the technology needed for large fleets of autonomous cars, PSA and nuTonomy said in a statement on Wednesday.

The latest PSA Group project seeks to work on “level 5” autonomous capable vehicles, which require no driver input, and will allow both companies to study how an “on-demand autonomous vehicle mobility service” performs, they said.

The combination is the latest between technology and automotive companies after Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, last month unveiled an autonomous cars development partnership with supplier Robert Bosch, while BMW has announced an alliance with chip maker Intel and Israel’s Mobileye.

Autonomous driving in urban areas requires a more radical approach to vehicle design, particularly for software and sensors, to help a car navigate inner city obstacles, said Anne Laliron, Head of the Business Lab at PSA Group.

“That is the reason we jump on the opportunity to work with nuTonomy,” Laliron told Reuters.

PSA Group will use the project to learn about what components make sense, and which suppliers are available, Laliron said.

Following the initial phase of this partnership, the companies will consider expanding their on-road AV testing initiative to other major cities.

nuTonomy, a software company founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) academics and McKinsey management consultants was the first to begin on the road testing of driverless taxi services in Singapore last year.

It raised $16 million last May in a funding round led by Highland Capital Partners and has backing from Singapore government authorities and Samsung Ventures, among others.

Facebook Gives Preview Of Futuristic Brain-to-text Program

April 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc has provided a peek inside a secretive unit headed by a former chief of the Pentagon’s research arm, disclosing that the social media company is studying ways for people to communicate by thought and touch.

Facebook launched the research shop, called Building 8, last year to conduct long-term work that might lead to hardware products. In charge of the unit is Regina Dugan, who led a similar group at Alphabet Inc’s Google and was previously director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

Dugan told software developers at Facebook’s annual F8 conference that the company was modeling Building 8 after DARPA, a government office founded in the 1950s that gave the world the internet and the miniaturized GPS receivers used in consumer devices.

Any hardware rollouts are years away, Dugan said in a speech. Potential products could, if successful, be a way for Facebook to diversify beyond its heavy reliance on advertising revenue.

One example of Building 8’s work so far, Dugan said, was an attempt to improve technology that allows people to type words using their minds.

“It sounds impossible, but it’s closer than you may realize,” Dugan said.

Using brain implants, people can already type eight words a minute, she said. Facebook’s goal, working with researchers at several U.S. universities, is to make the system non-invasive, as well as fast enough so that people can type 100 words a minute just by thinking.

Possible uses include helping disabled people and “the ability to text your friend without taking out your phone,” she said.

Another Building 8 project, she said, was trying to advance the ability to communicate through touch only, an idea with roots in Braille, a writing system for the blind and visually impaired.

A video played at the conference showed two Facebook employees talking to each other through touch. As one employee, Frances, wore an electronic device on her arm, the other, Freddy, used a computer program to send pressure changes to her arm.

“If you ask Frances what she feels,” Dugan said, “she’ll tell you that she has learned to feel the acoustic shape of a word on her arm.”

In December, Facebook signed a deal with 17 universities including Harvard and Princeton to allow swifter collaboration on projects with Dugan’s team.

 

Advertising Coalition Agree To Online Ads Standards

March 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A broad coalition of advertising trade groups, ad buyers and sellers from Western Europe and the United States are pushing the industry to stop using annoying online marketing formats that have given rise to use of ad-blockers.

The types of ads the coalition has identified as falling below standard include pop-up advertisements, auto-play video ads with sound, flashing animated ads and full-screen ads that mask underlying content from readers or viewers.

The explosion of ad-blocking tools has launched a prolonged debate within the advertising industry over whether to rein in abusive ad practices or simply freeze out consumers who use ad blocker and still expect access to premium content.

The Coalition for Better Ads said on Wednesday it was publishing the voluntary standards after a study in which more than 25,000 web surfers and mobile phone users rated ads.

They identified six types of desktop web ads and 12 types of mobile ads as falling beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability and called on advertisers to avoid them.

Matti Littunen, research analyst at Enders Analysis focusing on digital media, said the ad formats identified by the coalition “have already been discouraged for years by these bodies and yet are still commonplace.”

The coalition is made up of major advertising associations from Britain, France, Germany and the United States, online ad platforms Google and Facebook, advertisers such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever and news publishers including News Corp, Washington Post and Thomson Reuters, the corporate parent of Reuters News.

“This is an opportunity, with the breadth of our participation, to actually not only capture what the consumer doesn’t want but also to really educate and take action to make that a reality in the online experience,” said Chuck Curran, a lawyer for the coalition, on a call with reporters.

“It’s that measurement of the point where the consumer is not just dissatisfied with the ad experience but actually more likely to use ad blockers and this is what we capture with the better ads standards.”

Ad-blocking, which has surged steadily since 2013, covered 615 million computer or mobile devices in 2016, up 30 percent from a year ago, according to estimates from Dublin-based PageFair, a firm that helps advertisers find ways to overcome blockers. That’s 11 percent of the world’s online populatio

Intel To Acquire Mobileye For $15.3 Billion

March 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

U.S. chip giant Intel has agreed to acquire Israeli driverless technology firm Mobileye  for $15.3 billion, the largest ever acquisition of an Israeli high-tech company.

The $63.54 per share cash deal is the world’s biggest purchase of a company solely focused on the autonomous driving sector. Mobileye accounts for 70 percent of the global market for advanced driver-assistance and anti-collision systems.

Intel said it expected the transaction to close within the next nine months and to immediately boost its non-GAAP earnings per share as well as its free cash flow.

The two companies are already collaborating with German automaker BMW on a project to put a fleet of around 40 self-driving test vehicles on the road in the second half of this year.

For a decade, Mobileye has relied on Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics to produce chips which the Israeli company sells to many of the world’s top automakers for its current, third-generation of driver-assistance systems.

However, while it was working with BMW, Mobileye also teamed up with Intel for its fifth-generation of chips that aim to be used in fully autonomous vehicles and are scheduled to be delivered around 2021.

Founded in 1999, Mobileye made its mission to reduce vehicle injuries and fatalities. After receiving an investment of $130 million from Goldman Sachs in 2007, it listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014. It has a market value of $10.6 billion.

Last October, Qualcomm announced a $47 billion deal to acquire NXP, the largest automotive chip supplier, putting pressure on other chipmakers seeking to make inroads into the market for autonomous driving components, including Intel, Mobileye and rival NVIDIA.

The Qualcomm-NXP deal, which will create the industry’s largest portfolio of sensors, networking and other elements vital to autonomous driving, is expected to close later in 2017, subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals.

Mobileye, which employs around 600 people, had adjusted net income of $173.3 million in 2016.

Windows 10 Still Showing Growth

March 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

NetMarketShare’s monthly OS usage figures show that Windows 10 use is growing but it is still a long way behind the aging and insecure Windows 7.

Windows 10’s share went from 24.36 percent share to 25.30 percent globally which was a 0.94 percent gain. So, it is on a quarter of all systems and growing by nearly a percentage point is impressive too. This is important because Windows 10 is no longer free, so each of those increases means money is changing hands.

Windows 7 dropped 1.14 percentage points in January, but it still has 47.20 percent share. Even if this month’s statistics are repeated, which is unlikely, it will take a year before Windows 10 overtakes Windows 7.

The Creators Update, out in April, could help accelerate Windows 10’s growth but it is more likely that Windows 7 will stay on PCs until they die, which is becoming a much longer time frame.

The god-awful Windows 8.1’s share remained on 6.90 percent, while Windows 8 dropped just 0.04 percentage points. XP use grew by 0.1 percentage points, and still has 9.07 percent share.

Courtesy-Fud

SoundCloud Seeks New Subscribers With New Budget Plan

March 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Music-streaming service SoundCloud rolled out a new budget subscription package on Tuesday, seeking to lure more listeners into paying subscribers and undercutting rivals Apple and Spotify.

The $4.99 per-month offer will give subscribers access to 120 million music tracks without having to listen to ads. Its $9.99 premium subscription, rebranded as SoundCloud Go+, offers 150 million tracks, with new features to be announced this year.

“Users have even more freedom to choose the features and content they want, at the price that fits their budget,” said Alex Ljung, chief executive of Berlin-based SoundCloud.

The new service is immediately available in the United States, Britain, Ireland, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Germany.

SoundCloud, which was launched in 2008, has about 175 million listeners but has never said how many are paying subscribers. It raised $100 million last June from a group of investors including Twitter, valuing the company at roughly $700 million, according to Re/code.

Apple, which charges $9.99 a month for its music-streaming service, has about 20 million subscribers, and Spotify has over 40 million.

SoundCloud is popular among music artists but has been less successful than its rivals at striking licensing deals on favorable terms. It lost two senior executives this month and is seeking to raise new funding.

Google’s Jigsaw Rolls Out Initiative To Combat Online Abuse

February 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Alphabet Inc’s Google and subsidiary Jigsaw rolled out a new technology to aid news organizations and online platforms  in identifying abusive comments on their websites.

The technology, called Perspective, will review comments and score them based on how similar they are to comments people said were “toxic” or likely to make them leave a conversation.

It has been tested on the New York Times and the companies hope to extend it to other news organizations such as The Guardian and The Economist as well as websites.

“News organizations want to encourage engagement and discussion around their content, but find that sorting through millions of comments to find those that are trolling or abusive takes a lot of money, labor, and time. As a result, many sites have shut down comments altogether,” Jared Cohen, President of Jigsaw, which is part of Alphabet, wrote in a blog post.

“But they tell us that isn’t the solution they want. We think technology can help.”

Perspective examined hundreds of thousands of comments that had been labeled as offensive by human reviewers to learn how to spot potentially abusive language.

CJ Adams, Jigsaw Product Manager, said the company was open to rolling out the technology to all platforms, including larger ones such as Facebook and Twitter  where trolling can be a major headache.

The technology could in the future be expanded to trying to identify personal attacks or off-topic comments too, Cohen said.

Perspective will not decide what to do with comments it finds are potentially abusive; rather publishers will be able to flag them to their moderators or develop tools to help comment understand the impact of what they are writing.

Cohen said a significant portion of abusive comments came from people who were “just having a bad day”.

The initiative against trolls follows efforts by Google and Facebook to combat fake news stories in France, Germany and the United States after they came under fire during the U.S. presidential vote when it became clear they had inadvertently fanned false news reports.

The debate surrounding fake news has led to calls from politicians for social networks to be held more liable for the content posted on their platforms.

The Perspective technology is still in its early stages and “far from perfect”, Cohen said, adding he hoped it could be rolled out for languages other than English too.

EU Data Protection Advocates Still Unhappy With Windows 10 Privacy Settings

February 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

European Union data protection watchdogs are indicating they are still concerned about the privacy settings of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system despite the U.S. company announcing changes to the installation process.

The watchdogs, a group made up of the EU’s 28 authorities responsible for enforcing data protection law, wrote to Microsoft last year expressing concerns about the default installation settings of Windows 10 and users’ apparent lack of control over the company’s processing of their data.

The group – referred to as the Article 29 Working Party -asked for more explanation of Microsoft’s processing of personal data for various purposes, including advertising.

“In light of the above, which are separate to the results of ongoing inquiries at a national level, even considering the proposed changes to Windows 10, the Working Party remains concerned about the level of protection of users’ personal data,” the group said in a statement which also acknowledged Microsoft’s willingness to cooperate.

Microsoft was not immediately available to comment.

A number of national authorities have already begun enquiries into Windows 10, including France which in July ordered Microsoft to stop collecting excessive user data.

The EU privacy group said that despite a new installation screen presenting users with five options to limit or switch off Microsoft’s processing of their data, it was not clear to what extent users would be informed about the specific data being collected.

Microsoft uses data collected through Windows 10 for different purposes, including advertising, the group said in its statement said.

“Microsoft should clearly explain what kinds of personal data are processed for what purposes. Without such information, consent cannot be informed, and therefore, not valid.”

AT&T Has Plans For IoT Network Later This Year

February 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

AT&T is accelerating its planned debuted of LTE-M, an IoT network that’s already being used to track shipping containers and pallets, monitor water use and connect fleets to the internet.

The carrier said Tuesday it will have nationwide LTE-M coverage in the U.S. by the middle of this year, six months ahead of schedule. Previously, AT&T had said LTE-M would cover the U.S. by year’s end.

That means everywhere in the country that AT&T has an LTE network, it will also offer LTE-M. By the end of the year, it will have LTE-M across Mexico too, creating a broad coverage area for businesses that operate on both sides of the border.

LTE-M is one of several LPWANs (low-power, wide-area networks) that are emerging to link sensors and other devices to the internet of things. It’s not as fast as the LTE that smartphones use, but it’s designed to allow for longer battery life, lower cost, smaller parts and better coverage. LTE-M has a top speed of around 1Mbps (bits per second) upstream and downstream and a range of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles), including better penetration through walls.

AT&T is part of a wave of mobile operators considering or rolling out LTE-M. Others include Orange in France and SoftBank in Japan. AT&T launched its first commercial trial of LTE-M last October in San Ramon, California, and has since opened another in Columbus, Ohio.

Several companies are already using the network for enterprise and consumer applications, AT&T said. They include Capstone Metering, a supplier of wireless water meters; RM2, which makes storage pallets with sensors for monitoring inventory; and PepsiCo, which is using LTE-M to collect usage data from soda fountains. Consumers can dispense their own blends of soda from these fountains, and PepsiCo uses sensors to keep the fountains stocked and learn what blends are popular.

There are already several emerging LPWAN systems from mobile operators and other service providers. The growing LoRaWAN, Sigfox and Ingenu technologies come from outside the traditional mobile industry.

LTE-M and another technology, NB-IoT, are based on LTE and are designed to run over carriers’ licensed spectrum. They may be the best options for enterprises concerned about interference and security, Ovum analyst Daryl Schoolar said.

 

Is Tesla’s Auto-Pilot Extremely Safe?

January 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A watchdog investigation into the death of a Tesla car driver when he was running the car on auto-pilot had some unexpected good news for the car market.

We had reported how Tesla will not be ordered to recall its semi-autonomous cars in the US, following a fatal crash in May 2016. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closed its investigation after it found no evidence of a defect in the vehicle.

But buried in its report was some actual statistics which showed that Tesla’s Autopilot had reduced crashes by more than 40 per cent. This would be considered a vindication for the safety of any car product since the introduction of seat belts.

Tesla vehicles come with the hardware necessary for Autopilot, but need a software upgrade that costs thousands of dollars to make it work. Since buyers can add Autopilot features after purchase, this provides a perfect before-and-after comparison.

According to the data Tesla gave investigators, installing Autopilot prevents crashes—by an astonishing 40 percent and the NHTSA issued these details while concluding its investigation.

Approximately one-third of the mileage on the cars was logged before the upgrade to Autosteer (the most controversial component of the driving suite), while the remaining miles were accrued after installation.

Tesla rolled out a new version of its software in November, known as Tesla 8.0. The update requires drivers to touch the steering wheel more frequently and increases Autopilot’s reliance on radar, in addition to cameras and ultrasonic sensors.
Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said 8.0 would have been able to detect the truck that was involved in the fatal broadside accident.

Courtesy-Fud

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