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Snapchat Rebrands Itself, New Spectacles Record POV Video

Snapchat, rebranded Snap Inc. to acknowledge the company is now more than an app, debuted its first hardware product. Spectacles one-size-fits-all sunglasses in black, teal or coral can record up to 10 seconds of video from the wearer’s first-person point of view. The user is able to record video hands-free, and the camera, which relies on a 115-degree-angle lens, also gives a wider image that more closely mimics our natural field of view, even to the point of being circular. Spectacles is priced at $129.99. Read more

Microsoft Speeds Up AI with New Programmable FPGA Chips

In 2012, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer and computer chip researcher Doug Burger believed they had found the future of computing: chips that could be programmed for specific tasks, dubbed field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Project Catapult, as it was called, was intended to shift the underlying technology of all Microsoft servers in that direction. FPGAs now form the basis of Bing. Soon, the specialized chips will be capable of artificial intelligence at a tremendous speed — 23 milliseconds versus four seconds. Read more

Energous, Other Firms to Offer Wireless Charging 2.0 in 2017

Energous has seen its share price more than double this year, due to its success with charging mats. But this company, along with a few others, has its sights set on Wireless Charging 2.0: the ability to charge phones, tablets and smart watches from across the room. In the second half of 2017, Energous plans to incorporate its technology in a transmitter that uses radio waves to charge devices from three to five feet away. In the next two years, consumers will see similar technology from WiTricity, AirFuel Alliance and Ossia. Read more

AT&T to Roll Out Streaming TV Service Aimed at Cord-Nevers

By the end of 2016, AT&T plans to debut DirecTV Now, a streaming service targeting cord-nevers, the 20 million households with no cable or satellite service. Sources say that AT&T intends DirecTV Now, which will deliver multiple live-feeds via broadband to the home, to become its primary video platform within five years. The platform will offer more than 100 channels and the ability to stream to two devices simultaneously, all without the need for cable or satellite service. AT&T bought DirecTV for $48.5 billion last year. Read more

Japan Emerges as Hub for Virtual Reality Culture, Innovations

Japan is on track to become a virtual reality powerhouse, largely due to the imminent release of Sony PlayStation VR. Mixed-reality theme parks, VRcades, augmented reality, and VR retail applications are all gaining traction. Gumi, GREE and Colopl, which has made about 30 VR investments, are a few of the major domestic VR investors. One VR startup, FOVE, a pioneer in eye tracking, has already raised $11 million; its chief executive Yuka has been featured in Forbes and SoftBank’s Taizo Son, chairman/founder of mobile gaming company GungHo, is one of its investors.

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