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Qualcomm To Power Alibaba

November 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Qualcomm and Alibaba have ported Alibaba Cloud Link One to run on the Qualcomm MDM9206 global multi-mode LTE IoT modem.

This is all part of a cunning plan to allow developers to quickly develop and deploy solutions that connect with the Alibaba Cloud using LTE IoT connectivity and client software running directly on the LTE system-on-chip (SoC).

Qualcomm pre-integrated the Alibaba Cloud Link One on to the MDM9206 modem, so that module manufacturers and IoT Tight and cost-effective integration between edge devices and the cloud.

The porting fixes a vast array of the existing and emerging LTE IoT use cases, including smart transportation (e.g. bike sharing), smart cities, as well as industrial IoT applications in areas such as smart grid, smart metering (e.g. electricity, gas, water), asset tracking and more.

It means that Qualcomm will have a foot in the door as more of our hardware becomes sentient and cloud based.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Echo Users Lean Towards Apple, Study Says

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

What does your choice of smart speaker reveal about your other preferences?

If you choose a Google Home speaker, does that mean you drift Android-ward? And what if you bought an Amazon Echo?

Well, let me tell you. I have just been made smarter by a piece of research from securities intelligence consultancy Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

It chatted with 300 Amazon Echo and Google Homeowners between July 11 and 27.

It concluded that those who own an Echo — which reminds me of the result of an ill-starred relationship between an air-purifier and a lipstick — have a penchant for Cupertino.

Of those surveyed, 55 percent of Echo users have an iPhone. The remainder have Android. Conversely, 75 percent of those who bought the oversized salt cellar known as Google Home are committed to Android phones.

Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP, insisted in a press release that the proportion of iPhone owners among Echo users was higher than the phone’s share of the US market. That stands at roughly 34 percent.

As for the proportion of Android users among Homeowners, that was merely consistent with Android’s share of the US phone market, he said. (Numbers vary as to how big Android’s share is. Some place it at around the 55 percent mark.)

Lowitz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

When it comes to tablets, Echo owners also skew toward Apple, says the research. 49 percent have an iPad, while 25 percent own an Amazon Fire tablet.

Vimeo Acquires Livestream

September 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Video-sharing website Vimeo announced intentions to acquire live video-streaming service Livestream and launch a new streaming service called Vimeo Live.

IAC-owned Vimeo didn’t disclose financial details for the acquisition of the Brooklyn-based company, which says it serves up live videos to 50 million viewers from customers such as Spotify and Dow Jones. Once the deal closes, Livestream’s technology will be integrated with Vimeo, allowing users to capture and stream live events.

“With the launch of Vimeo Live and the addition of Livestream’s impressive team and innovative product suite, we can empower a diverse range of creators to produce beautiful live experiences with professionalism and ease,” Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud said in a statement.

The acquisition makes possible a dramatic expansion for Vimeo, often known as a highbrow YouTube.

Like Google’s video site, Vimeo lets people upload clips. But its early dedication to high picture quality and its ban on video ads meant it was more likely to host film-festival fodder than cat clips.

The new direction comes on the heels of Vimeo shelving plans to launch its own video subscription site with original content. The site said in November it would help its creator community develop original content, and supplement it with licensed programming. Vimeo said in June it had abandoned those plans.

Will China Become The Leader In A.I.

September 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The CEO of China-based Horizon Robotics, Yu Kai, claims that China could become very important in the development of AI chips.

While it has been late to arrive in the PC processor world, that era is about to come to an end with the death of Moore’s law. Instead computers will obtain speed from AI chips and China is better equipped to develop these Yu claims.

Talking to the assembled throngs at the Artificial Intelligence Summit (CAIS) 2017, Yu said his company has set up an AI research and development center in Nanjing, focusing on developing embedded AI solutions for smart driving, smart living and smart cities.

Since the China government released a plan to promote new-generation AI development in early July 2017, all related sectors in the country have been gearing up for the development of AI technologies and applications, Yu said.

Yu said Moore’s Law was entering a new stage, featuring a gradual swift of logical computing to smart computing, with dedicated AI processors needed to handle smart computing and constituting a new business field which China firms can tap into.

China was also benefiting from the movement of computing from the center to the edge. Computing in the PC era was done locally, then massive computing was channeled through browsers and done in the cloud, and now cloud computing is moving slowly to terminal computing along with the Internet progressing to mobile network and then to Internet of Everything (IoE).

In the AI era, massive computing needs mainly come from the terminal side, but cloud computing could hardly satisfy the requirements for real-time and low latency computing as well as better user experience by the terminal side, Yu said.

The next thing which will happen is that edge computing technology will facilitate much faster, higher-volume AI computing. China boasts a great opportunity for developing embedded AI processors and algorithms, which can be applied to grant intelligence to terminal sensors and lenses used in self-driving cars and smart cities.

He said that Horizon Robotics was developing an embedded AI processor that features an extremely low power consumption of only 2W and is two to three times faster than its best counterpart available now in computing performance, yet at a cost of only one twentieth, according to Yu.

Courtesy-Fud

Will A.I. Replace Teachers

September 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

There are probably schools where any machines, including PCs and laptops, are regularly stolen because the kids have gone all Lord of the Flies. Things are probably not like that at Wellington College, which is where the prediction has come from.

In a report in The Independent, Sir Anthony Sheldon waxed lyrical about the potential and possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated teachers.

“School teachers will lose their traditional role and effectively become little more than classroom assistants” reports the paper.

“They will remain on hand to set up equipment, help children when necessary and maintain discipline.”

This sounds a bit like current teaching, where a television, overhead projector or computer can be wheeled into a classroom and turned on and left to teach.

Sheldon is convinced about this and is excited about the possibility of every kid getting the kind of education that money pays for.

“It certainly will change human life as we know it. It will open up the possibility of an Eton or Wellington education for all. Everyone can have the very best teacher and it’s completely personalised; the software you’re working with will be with you throughout your education journey. It can move at the speed of the learner,” he said.

“This is beyond anything that we’ve seen in the industrial revolution or since with any other new technology. These are adaptive machines that adapt to individuals. They will listen to the voices of the learners, read their faces and study them in the way gifted teachers study their students.

“We’re looking at screens which are listening to the voice of the student and reading the face of the student. Reading and comprehending.”

Courtesy-TheInq

YuMi Robot Conducts Italian Symphony

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

YuMi the humanoid robot showed that it was indeed up to the task on Tuesday night as it raised its baton to conduct the Lucca Philharmonic orchestra alongside Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

The two-armed robot, designed by Swiss firm ABB, made its debut at Pisa’s Verdi Theatre to mark the First International Festival of Robotics in the Tuscan city.

“We basically had to find time to understand his movements. When we found the way, everything was pretty easy,” said the orchestra’s resident conductor, Andrea Colombini.

“It is absolutely fantastic. And the technicians were fantastic just to make everything perfect, especially in the length and in the speed of the gesture, which is very important,” he said.

YuMi, whose name is derived from the phrase ‘you and me’, was taught all the movements by Colombini, who held its arms in rehearsals so the computer could memorize the correct gestures. The robot is not able to improvise and any unexpected change in tempo from the musicians would have been ruinous.

The robot conducted three of the 18 pieces performed on Tuesday night, including the famous aria La Donna e’ Mobile, from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto.

Deezer Takes On Giants Of Music Streaming

September 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

From Brazilian gospel to Puerto Rican reggaeton and Dutch hip-hop, music streaming company Deezer is making waves all over the globe looking for markets where it can survive and thrive against Spotify and Apple.

The French firm has little hope of success going toe-to-toe with its far bigger rivals in the mass-market realms inhabited by the likes of Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.

Instead, it is focusing on local music genres in fast-growing, often non-English language markets, areas where it believes it can steal a march. It is targeting local listeners while also looking to position itself for a global audience as a “cool”, non-mainstream alternative.

As part of this strategy, launched this year and called Deezer Next, it is dispatching local teams of “editors” to identify talent in niche genres and create original content, Netflix-style.

The aim is not only to differentiate its catalog but also to reduce its reliance on the record labels that take the lion’s share of streaming services’ revenue. It has 40 editors globally and is looking to recruit more.

Deezer Chief Executive Hans-Holger Albrecht said he would target selected markets in Latin America, Asia, and Africa where Spotify was not already predominant. They include Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, Colombia, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.

“I strongly believe in the localization of content,” he told Reuters. “While Spotify is mainly playlist-focused, we are betting on local differentiation, and this has helped us become number one in gospel in Brazil.”

But finding a path to profit represents a formidable task for the loss-making company.

It has a similar “freemium” to market leader Spotify, whereby it attracts users by offering advert-supported free access and charges a monthly fee of about $10 for the full service. However, it has only 12 million active users – about 9 million paying – compared with Spotify’s 60 million paying subscribers, and brings in just a tenth of the Swedish firm’s $3 billion annual revenue.

Deezer, controlled by billionaire investor Len Blavatnik, is nonetheless sinking tens of millions of euros into this local music drive. Its strategy is based on a bet that music streaming will continue to grow rapidly to eventually eclipse all other forms of music listening.

The paid streaming market is expected to grow 16 percent to $28 billion by 2030 in terms of annual revenue, according to Goldman Sachs

“Streaming is a very young market, with just about 10 percent penetration globally, so there is a lot of potential still,” said Albrecht.

Is Sony Facing Another Class Action Lawsuit

August 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

A US Federal Court has approved a class action lawsuit against Sony for ‘deceptively advertising’ its Xperia smartphones and tablets as “waterproof”. 

The lawsuit, first reported on by The Verge, alleges that Sony’s Xperia devices have been misrepresented as “waterproof” as they are not designed for or capable of ordinary underwater use and are more on the “water-resistant” level of protection.

“Sony exploited certain international water resistance ratings in order to launch a deceptive marketing campaign promoting the devices,” the lawsuit claims. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Sony’s dodgy “waterproof claims”. Back in 2015, the Japanese firm warned buyers of its Xperia Z5 that, despite having advertised the smartphone as ‘waterproof’, getting it wet could void the warranty.

The class action seeks a 12-month warranty extension for recently purchased devices or a reimbursement of up to 50 per cent off the affected device’s suggested retail price, which means owners of an Xperia Z4 Tablet, for example, could receive a $300 reimbursement.

However, The Verge notes that “this may not be the final value the company is liable to refund”, as Sony will still need to settle with the court again on 1 December and agree on final terms.

The lawsuit is also calling for Sony to make changes to its packing, labelling and advertising. 

Devices included in the class action include the Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z3 Tablet, Compact Xperia Z4 Tablet, Xperia M2 Aqua, Xperia M4 Aqua, Xperia ZR Xperia Z Ultra Xperia Z1, Z1s, Z1 Compact Xperia Z2 Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Xperia Z3v, Xperia Z3+, Xperia Z3+ Dual, Xperia Z5, and the Xperia Z5 Compact.

The class action only applies to customers in the US. Those eligible and interested in taking part of the claim can sign up here by 30 January 2018. Affected customers will need to have a record of their interactions with Sony or they will not be eligible.

Courtesy-TheInq

New Mazda, Toyota Vehicles To Share Infotainment System

August 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Future Mazda and Toyota vehicles will share the same infotainment underpinnings as part of a joint development effort between the two automakers, Nikkei reports. Toyota first developed the Linux-based guts of its new Entune 3.0 infotainment system, but it brought in Mazda for additional streamlining because of a lack of software developers in Japan’s auto industry.

The system will first reach the public by way of the 2018 Toyota Camry, which is already on sale in the US. It should land in Mazda’s stable when the redesigned Mazda3 debuts in the near future, although that has not been officially confirmed. Nikkei claims other vehicles from these manufacturers will receive the updated platform in stages.

Now, bear in mind this doesn’t refer to the whole infotainment system, this only covers the platform off which it’s built. Mazda’s version will undoubtedly look different, and each company will be responsible for developing the features and applications that will live in each system.

Both systems, though, will be able to make use of Toyota’s new Wi-Fi hotspot, which utilizes a cellular network connection to deliver over-the-air updates and new apps without requiring the owner to provide the connection. Toyota’s hotspot can accommodate up to five devices simultaneously on the 2018 Camry.

While this new infotainment system will be rather flexible thanks to a library of available third-party apps like Slacker or Pandora, it should be noted that the system still does not support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto — or, at least it doesn’t on the 2018 Toyota Camry. Hopefully that will change with other models, but Toyota has a historical aversion to this sort of phone mirroring.

 

Fitbit Commits To Smartwatch Market With Ionic Launch

August 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Wearable device maker Fitbit Inc has launched its newest device, the Ionic smartwatch, with features ranging from fitness tracking to contactless payment, as it gears up to compete with rivals such as Apple Inc.

Once the market leader in wearables, Fitbit has recently struggled due to fierce competition and had earlier blamed a shift among consumers toward feature-rich devices and smartwatches for its revenue decline.

Ionic smartwatches will feature GPS, heart rate tracking, water resistance up to 50 meters, Fitbit Pay, onboard music, multiple clock faces and a battery that will last more than 4 days, the company said in a statement.

 “Over the coming months you will be able to add eligible American Express cards, as well as Mastercard and Visa credit and debit cards from top issuing banks in over 10 markets across the globe,” Fitbit said.

The watch also has a new sensor technology — relative SpO2 sensor — for estimating oxygen levels in the blood that have the potential to track sleep apnea among others.

With a price tag of $299.95, Ionic is priced above Apple Watch’s starting price of $269.

“Fitbit can take some market share from Apple by appealing to those who are more focused on fitness, however, we do not expect this to be a significant share of Apple’s overall smartwatch sales,” Wedbush Securities analyst Alicia Reese said.

Ionic will be available for pre-sale from Monday on Fitbit’s website and at some online retailers from Tuesday, the company said in a statement.

The company on Monday also launched Aria 2 smart scale and Flyer wireless headphones.

Has The Playstation Network Suffered Another Breach

August 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

The hacker group known as OurMine has reportedly cracked into Sony and made off with a collection of PlayStation Network (PSN) logins.

Legitimately, OurMine offers to protect your online accounts and presence and keep it secure on a monthly paid for basis. It also busts its way into systems, picks them apart and exposes their weaknesses all while wearing a lovely white hat.

We have already seen it at work this month when it took on HBO and Game of Thrones and managed to come out of it with Twitter control and a couple of script treatments. 

The benevolent group is not planning on leaking any of the information that it took from PSN and got quite indignant at the suggestion in one of its own tweets, suggesting that Sony just needed to get in touch and avail itself of the OurMine services and this would all be over.

“No, we aren’t going to share it, we are a security group, if you works at PlayStation then please go to our website ourmine . org,” it said on Twitter.

Reports claim that the hack of Sony’s social media accounts was achieved using its Sprout Social management account, which also gave OurMine access to user registration information such as names and email addresses.

It is tough to imagine that Sony’s PlayStation people would welcome this third-party intervention. The firm has had to deal with hackers before in 2001 when it went after the cracker known as Geohot. Then, the firm was taken offline for almost three weeks and had tens of millions of PSN user details pinched.

Sony’s Facebook account also got taken over for a short while this weekend putting users off the service and sparing other people from cat pictures and happy couples. Unfortunately, though, this only had a brief impact.

Courtesy-TheInq

Walmart’s Vudu Comes To Apple TV

August 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Apple TV streaming box might not be as popular as Roku, Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV, but it still has a loyal following, especially among people committed to Apple’s ecosystem of iPhones, iPads, Mac computers, and software.

Since its streaming box launched, Apple has maintained a jealous hold on purchases of TV shows and movies made through the device: you can only use iTunes to buy or rent individual episodes, seasons and films. Now for the first time, a big iTunes competitor has an app available on the box.

Vudu, the movie and TV streaming service owned by Walmart, launches on Apple TV Monday. The app allows you to watch stuff from your Vudu library, including UltraViolet movies redeemed from Blu-ray discs and DVDs, and you can browse Vudu’s collection of free movies and shows.

What you can’t do is rent or buy anything directly from the on-screen app. The only way to do that on an Apple TV is via iTunes. The same restriction applies to Apple’s iOS devices like the iPad and iPhone. But you can still buy videos through your browser — or on other devices, like Roku — and they’ll be accessible from your Vudu collection on the Apple TV almost instantly.

Apple has also announced that Amazon Video is coming to Apple TV later this year. We don’t have any additional details at the moment but don’t be surprised if, like Vudu, the Amazon app doesn’t allow purchases. The reason? Doing so would require Vudu and Amazon to give Apple a percentage of each sale.

 

Non-Premium Spotify Users Can Now Stream On Google Home

August 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Spotify unveiled a nice suprise for those who use the music-streaming service for free.

Starting now, free users will be able to enjoy and control music through a Google Home device, just as premium subscribers have been able to do since the launch of the home hub, Spotify said Friday.

The news could nudge some free Spotify users toward investing in one of Google’s home hubs if they haven’t already. Especially if they’re trying to decide between Google Home and the rival Amazon Echo, which can still be used only by Spotify Premium subscribers.

Access through Home will be available to free Spotify users in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, and Germany.

“We are incredibly excited that, from today, millions of Spotify’s free users will be able to enjoy Spotify in their homes through voice-activated speakers for the very first time, thanks to the Assistant on Google Home,” Mikael Ericsson, Spotify’s product director for platform and partner experience, said in a statement.

Using a voice-activated smart home hub with a speaker lets you simply tell the device what you want to hear, freeing you from having to search for tunes on your phone.

With a properly configured Spotify-Home setup, you can get your music going by using commands like “OK, Google, play Spotify,” “OK, Google, play Discover Weekly” and “OK, Google, play my Taylor Swift playlist.”

After that, you just have to hope no one in the room objects to your choice and gives Home different orders (the only downside we’ve discovered to voice-controlled music playback).

Qualcomm Goes Deep Learning

August 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Mobile chip maker Qualcomm wants to enable deep learning-based software development on all kinds of devices, and has created the Neural Processing Engine (NPE) for its Snapdragon-series mobile processors.

 The NPE software development kit is now available to all via the Qualcomm Developer Network, which marks the first public release of the SDK, and opens up a lot of potential for AI computing on a range of devices, including mobile phones, in-car platforms and more.

The purpose of the framework is to make possible UX implementations like style transfers and filters (basically what Snapchat and Facebook do with their mobile app cameras) with more accurate applications on user photos, as well as other functions better handled by deep learning algorithms, like scene detection, facial recognition, object tracking and avoidance, as well as natural language processing.

This will mean that anything you’d normally route to powerful cloud servers for advanced processing is done locally on device instead.

Courtesy-Fud

Spotify Inks Licensing Deal With Sony Music

July 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Spotify has pulled together a licensing deal with a second major label, Sony Music Entertainment, according to media reports, setting the stage for a U.S. stock market listing by the music streaming leader.

Recently valued at $13 billion, Sweden’s Spotify is planning a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange later this year or in early 2018, sources told Reuters in May.

Sony agreed to reduce royalties that Spotify must pay in return for the streaming service restricting new albums to paying subscribers for two weeks before offering access to free users, the Financial Times reported, citing a single source.

Sony’s top artists include Adele, Beyonce and Shakira.

Spotify is also in talks with Warner Music Group , Billboard reported.

Favorable royalty terms are crucial for Spotify to attain profitability and to make it a viable long-term holding for investors.

The company reported a 349 million euro ($400 million) operating loss, a 47 percent increase on a year earlier, even as revenue grew 50 percent to 2.93 billion euros.

In April, it signed a multi-year licensing deal with Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, with a similar two-week release window for new albums and a break on the royalties Spotify pays Universal.

It also signed up digital agency Merlin, on behalf of more than 20,000 independent labels.

Last year, Universal held a 28.9 percent share of global music label revenue, Sony Music generated 22.4 percent and Warner 17.4 percent. Independent labels made up the remaining 31.3 percent, MIDiA Research data showed.

Spotify has fended off competition from rival Apple Music, with nearly double the number of paying subscribers.

In March, Spotify said it had more than 50 million paying subscribers and 140 million active users, including free listeners. Apple reported 27 million music subscribers last month, up from 20 million in December.

The company has faced boycotts from some top music artists who have complained its free services undercut the value of their work but the major label licensing deals have gone some way toward easing these tensions, according to analysts.

Spotify declined to comment. Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group did not respond to requests for immediate comment.

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