Daily Tech Headlines – May 21, 2018

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Daily Tech Headlines – May 21, 2018
Number 506
Broadcast Date MAY 21, 2018
Episode Length 4:21
Hosts Sarah Lane

Microsoft buys Semantic Machines, the Obamas ink Netflix content deal, Facebook partners with Qualcomm for Telegraph wireless internet project.


Facebook announced that its project Terragraph, which aims to connect neighborhoods and businesses wirelessly, will begin field trials in 2019 using 60GHz technology from Qualcomm. Terragraph is designed to replace fiber and cable broadband. It uses 802.11ay, the successor to 802.11ad.
Acer announced it will ship notebook PCs preinstalled with Amazon Alexa. Several models of the Acer Spin 3 and Spin 5 lines will start shipping with Alexa this week, and Acer says it'll roll out across its entire notebook PC portfolio eventually. HP, Lenovo, and ASUS have all announced plans to add Alexa to their PCs as well.
Uber will fund an extra hour of Washington DC's Metro service for fans attending the Washington Capitals Game 6. This comes after Game 4’s late-night service was funded by DowntownDC Business Improvement District, via a donation from the nation of Qatar. Uber's gestures comes during proposed ride-hail tax increases in the area, which would raise the revenue tax to 6 percent to pay for D.C.’s share of Metro dedicated funding, following revisions by the D.C. Council.
Audio startup Ossic raised 2.7M on Kickstarter and 3.2M on Indiegogo for 3D sound headphones, but announced this weekend that it is shutting down and backers will not be receiving refunds. Up through January 2017, Ossic received more than 22,000 pre-orders for their Ossic X headphones, and in January announced they would enter “mass production” by late spring 2018. The company blamed the slow adoption of virtual reality alongside their crowdfunding campaign stretch goals which which they say slowed down their R&D team. A group of over 1,200 Facebook users have joined a recently-created page threatening a class action lawsuit against the Ossis.
Microsoft announced acquired Semantic Machines to improve the AI experience on products like Cortana, the Azure Bot Service, and Microsoft Cognitive Services. Semantic Machines works in areas such as speech synthesis, deep learning, and natural language processing. “With the acquisition of Semantic Machines, we will establish a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkeley to push forward the boundaries of what is possible in language interfaces,” Microsoft AI and research CTO David Ku said in a blog post.
Earlier this year, the NYT reported that Barack and Michelle Obama were in talks with Netflix for a possible content deal, and today Netflix announced via tweet that it has reached a multi-year deal with the Obamas to produce original films and series. Netflix says these could include both scripted and unscripted series, as well as documentaries, features, and more.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin responded to a question from CNBC about whether or not google was a monopoly that "these are issues that the Justice Department needs to look at seriously — not for any one company — but obviously as these technology companies have a greater and greater impact on the economy, I think that you have to look at the power they have." The question was posed to Mnuchin following a 60 Minutes TV feature on Google's lion's share of the market in online search. Google has been criticized for ranking its own shopping pages and reviews ahead of competitors in search results. Last year Google was fined $2.7 billion by European Union regulators for adjusting its search algorithm this way.
ZDNet reports that a server used by the TeenSafe app for parents to monitor their teenagers' smartphone activity, has leaked tens of thousands of login credentials, including Apple IDs. The database was reportedly stored on two insecure servers hosted by Amazon Web Services. A TeenSafe spokesperson tells ZDNet, "We have taken action to close one of our servers to the public and begun alerting customers that could potentially be impacted." The app also requires two-factor authentication is turned off for the child's Apple account so that parents can monitor the phone without consent.


Preceded by:
"Daily Tech Headlines – May 18, 2018"
Daily Tech Headlines – May 21, 2018
Followed by:
"Daily Tech Headlines – May 22, 2018"