Month: August 2017

Samsung gets DMV’s OK to test autonomous cars in California

The California DMV has just updated the list of companies that can test self-driving technologies in the state, and there's one notable addition: Samsung Electronics. In a statement, a company spokesperson confirmed that it's participating in California's Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program. However, he clarified that the Korean conglomerate still has "no plans to enter the car-manufacturing business." Samsung will instead continue to develop sensors that use its AI and deep learning software, as well as other components for autonomous vehicles.

Samsung first got a permit to test self-driving technologies in its home country earlier this year. The chaebol revealed then that it was planning to test the sensors and parts it's developing aboard a Hyundai car. It unfortunately didn't elaborate on what those components can do, but we might find out more details when the company starts testing them in California.

The number of companies testing on California roads is only bound to grow, especially now that the government is mulling on giving tech titans and automakers exceptions to federal safety rules. Next week, lawmakers are slated to vote on the SELF DRIVE Act that would prevent states from regulating autonomous vehicle designs. If it passes, companies like Waymo will be able to test 100,000 autonomous vehicles, though, in exchange they have to turn in more data to the feds.

Via: CNET, TechCrunch

Source: California DMV

Spotify’s head of video and podcasting leaves the company

Last year Spotify rolled out a package of original video shows, however, they've mostly failed to make an impact and now the executive in charge of the initiative has left the company. Bloomberg first reported that Tom Calderone, a former head of VH1, was out after overseeing the rollout of a dozen music-related series last year. In a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter, Spotify said that "We are focusing our expanding video offerings on Rap Caviar, Rock This and other popular Spotify owned and operated playlists...Building out our video and podcast content remains a priority for Spotify and we will have more information to share on our future plans soon."

Spotify's interest in video dates back a couple of years, but, like other music services, hasn't produced much noise among subscribers. It started off licensing short videos from outlets like ESPN and BBC, and also made an attempt at launching a subscription TV channel bundle that never saw the light of day. Calderone's oversight included its podcasts, where rumors have indicated the company is planning another big push, but we'll have to wait and see exactly what its new strategy includes.

Source: Bloomberg, The Hollywood Reporter

Amazon’s latest drama ‘Tin Star’ premieres September 29th

Tin Star, a new drama coming to Amazon Prime Video, just got a premiere date and a trailer. The show stars Tim Roth who plays ex-British detective Jim Worth who recently moved his family to a small Canadian town called Little Big Bear. But a big oil refinery moves into town shortly thereafter, bringing with it lots of problems including organized crime, and the company's corporate liaison -- played by Christina Hendricks -- seems to be the strong, unwavering front of an even stronger, unsavory corporation. However, Wright is no saint himself and after a family tragedy, his violent, alcoholic alter-ego Jack is awakened.

The show is written by 28 Weeks Later writer Rowan Joffé and features Genevieve O'Reilly of Rogue One and Episodes, Christopher Heyerdahl of True Blood and Kevin Hanchard of Orphan Black. The show premieres September 29th on Amazon and you can check out the trailer below.


Facebook will use AI to help correct skewed 360-degree photos

Ever since Facebook added 360-degree photos to your news feed last year, more and more images of this type have appeared. You can even take and share these full-circle images right from your mobile device, as well, making them even more ubiquitous. Finding them is even easier with Facebook's Gear VR app, too. As reported by VentureBeat, the social network is now using deep neural networks to analyze 360-degree photos to fix the image orientation for a better viewing experience, especially in VR.

When you take a 360-degree photo, it's easy to end up with a tilted shot if you don't hold the camera in line with the horizon for the full capture, says VentureBeat's Blair Hanley Frank. This makes it even worse to view in VR. Facebook's new system — which isn't yet in production use — is based on AlexNet, a convolutional neural network originally created in 2012. VentureBeat also reports that Facebook has a system in place to deal with 360-degree photos' large file sizes, too. The company converts the images into cubes and then stores them at different resolutions. As users access the photo, Facebook's AI calculates which resolution needs to be loaded to give the viewer the best possible view, even at lower resolutions. We've reached out to Facebook for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

Source: VentureBeat

Paranormal thriller ‘Oxenfree’ teased for Nintendo Switch

We love Oxenfree around these parts. The paranormal thriller captures the awkwardness of being a teenager incredibly well, tasking players to uncover the mystery of an abandoned military base while managing relationships with friends along for the ride. It's already available on mobile, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but the developers at Night School Studio have started teasing that it'll appear on Nintendo Switch as well.

The studio tweeted the image below along with a message in Morse code. What's it say? "Coming soon." With PAX happening in Seattle this weekend, it shouldn't be too long before there are more details. Like so many of the other indies that've had ports announced, this should be a great fit for Nintendo's hybrid portable/home console. Oh, and if you somehow still haven't listened to the game's soundtrack you should fix that.

Source: Night School Studio

Twitch streamers will soon customize their page with new tools

Twitch released a desktop app earlier this month offering more functionality than its browser version, but they saved even bigger news for PAX West. Today at the games show, the streaming channel platform announced that creators will soon be able to load up a whole slew of new third-party tools and extensions to interact with followers in many more ways. Best of all, developers will be able to make their own plug-ins.

Twenty extensions are available now, ranging from overlays and follower leaderboards to those specifically built for games like League of Legends, Hearthstone, Overwatch and Destiny. Savvy followers might have seen their favorite content creators demo the new tools in the last few months (like Hearthstone streamer Trump in the pic at the top of this post).

Other extensions benefit creators directly: 'Gear on Amazon,' for example, earns Twitch Partners and Affiliates (aka streamers) commission through Amazon's Associates program when fans buy stuff promoted by their favorite content creator (see example below). This one is the first, but not last, extension to use monetizations: In a press release, Twitch noted that they will share more ways developers can make money through extensions at TwitchCon's Developer Day on October 19th.

Users can make their own extensions by heading to the updated Developer Portal, which will freely provide both asset hosting and fanout messaging to help promote their software. Developers can showcase their finished plugins in an Extensions Manager, which will act as a directory for creators to peruse. Twitch didn't announce when exactly all the extensions features will go live, but noted they will be available soon.

Source: Twitch Extensions

Nintendo ordered to pay $10 million in Wii patent lawsuit

Today, a Dallas jury awarded iLife Technologies $10 million in its patent infringement lawsuit against Nintendo of America. The suit, which was brought forth in 2013, alleged that Nintendo used iLife's technology when creating its motion-sensing Wii Remote.

The technology created by and patented by iLife was designed to detect when elderly individuals fell and monitor babies for sudden infant death syndrome. It sought $144 million in damages, or $4 for each of the 36 million Wii systems sold prior to the suit being filed, along with an injunction against Nintendo's use of the technology in question.

Nintendo said it didn't infringe on the patent and that the patent was improperly written, causing it to be invalid. Around the same time that it sued Nintendo, iLife also filed patent infringement suits against a number of other companies -- including Fitbit and Under Armour -- that involved the same patents listed in the Nintendo case. Both of the Fitbit and Under Armour suits were dismissed by the parties themselves and presumably settled out of court. Nintendo plans to appeal the ruling, according to reports from Rolling Stone.

Via: Gamasutra

Source: Rolling Stone, Scribd

Parallels makes Windows apps work with your MacBook’s TouchBar

If you're one of those Apple users who likes (or needs) to run Mac OS and Windows side by side, you'll probably be into Parallels Desktop 13. Especially if you have one of those MacBook Pros with a TouchBar. The latest version of the software makes certain apps on Microsoft's platform fully compatible with Apple's digital OLED strip, including all the major web browsers and the entire Office suite. For instance, if you're running PowerPoint for Windows through Parallel, you can use the TouchBar to do things like bold or italicize the text on your slides. You can also customize functions based on which app you're using, just as you would on the Mac OS interface.

During our demo of the feature here at IFA 2017, using the TouchBar with apps like Internet Explorer, Excel and Powerpoint was smooth (read: there was barely any lag between prompting commands). That said, the images displayed on the OLED strip, specifically the icons for the apps we were using, looked sort of blurry and low-res. Still, we'll take functionality over aesthetics any day, even if it is nice to combine the two. Aside from TouchBar support, Parallels for Desktop 13 brings a picture-in-picture mode, a light theme and an installation assistant that will help you get Windows going on your Mac within minutes.

A representative for Parallels tells Engadget that it will make more applications work with the TouchBar in the near future, though it's unclear how it will pick and choose which exactly. As for the apps that don't have full support, the strip will show traditional function buttons on the TouchBar. Those of you with a compatible MacBook Pro can get a new Parallels Desktop 13 license for $80, while anyone with coming from version 11 or 12 can upgrade for $50.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

Second ‘Battlefield 1’ DLC deploys on September 19th

At Gamescom last week, EA showed off a timeline of future expansions headed to Battlefield 1, including the next to come, In The Name of the Tsar. The game's second DLC just got a global release date on September 19th, but players who bought the Premium Pass can load it up two weeks early on September 5th. Even if you don't care about the extra content, tech heads might want to buy it for another added feature: HDR10 support.

EA and DICE introduced In The Name Of The Tsar back in February when it unveiled Battlefield 1's DLC roadmap, but an April teaser revealed that the expansion would be sending players to the Eastern Front. Like the first DLC They Shall Not Pass, which introduced French-themed multiplayer maps with that country's forces, In The Name of the Tsar's six new maps all involve Russian armies fighting against Germans, Austro-Hungarians and even each other as Bolsheviks and Imperials grapple for control of the nation. Players get eleven new weapons, three new vehicles and a new mode: Supply Drop. Get ready for war in the cold, soldiers.

Source: 'Battlefield 1' website (news)

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update may arrive on October 17th

We've known that Microsoft planned to release a large Windows 10 update this fall, but the company has been mum on the exact date. The Fall Creators Update is slated to feature some big changes, too, including built-in AI to fight malware, new Cortana features and handwriting recognition. While many expected bi-annual updates for Windows 10 starting in September, PC World reports that hardware partner Lenovo leaked a Windows 10 ship date of October 17th on a since-deleted product page for its upcoming two-in-one PC, the Miix 520.

Of course, this isn't an official date; we've reached out to Microsoft for comment on the matter, and will update this post when we hear back. Still, a fall release makes sense, given the name of the update itself. PC World's Mark Hachman thinks that Microsoft needs more time for its mixed reality technologies, but again, it's just speculation at this point.

Source: PC World