VNTANA CEO Ashley Crowder will talk holograms at TechCrunch Sessions: AR/VR

VNTANA CEO Ashley Crowder calls the company’s technology, “the world’s first scalable, affordable and interactive hologram.” The startup’s tech hasn’t certainly wowed crowds in recent recent years.

In 2016, it collaborated with Microsoft on HOLLAGRAM, beaming in a live hologram of MS executives during a HOLLAGRAM for a keynote at HackSC. The company’s technology has also been embraced by Intel. The chipmaker deployed VNTANA’s tech during its own keynote at Computex that same year.

Crowder cofounded the VNTANA in 2012, along with fellow USC grad (and current COO) Ben Conway. Before VNTANA, she worked at Gulfstream, Northrop Grumman and BP, utilizing her experience in manufacturing to help design the new company’s early offerings.

In 2013, the team sent a video of a hacked Kinect to Microsoft, demonstrating how the company’s popular hands-free controller could be used for gesture tracking and control with VNTANA’s holographic images. It was enough to

Continue reading "VNTANA CEO Ashley Crowder will talk holograms at TechCrunch Sessions: AR/VR"

Google steps back from running the Kubernetes infrastructure

Google today announced that it is providing the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) with $9 million in Google Cloud credits to help further its work on the Kubernetes container orchestrator and that it is handing over operational control of the project to the community. These credits will be split over three years and are meant to cover the infrastructure costs of building, testing and distributing the Kubernetes software. Why does this matter? Until now, Google hosted virtually all the cloud resources that supported the project like its CI/CD testing infrastructure, container downloads and DNS services on its cloud. But Google is now taking a step back. With the Kubernetes community reaching a state of maturity, Google is transferring all of this to the community. Between the testing infrastructure and hosting container downloads, the Kubernetes project regularly runs over 150,000 containers on 5,000 virtual machines, so the cost of running these systems quickly adds
Continue reading "Google steps back from running the Kubernetes infrastructure"

Microsoft will soon automatically transcribe video files in OneDrive for Office 365 subscribers

Microsoft today announced a couple of AI-centric updates for OneDrive and SharePoint users with an Office 365 subscription that bring more of the company’s machine learning smarts to its file storage services. All of these features will launch at some point later this year. With the company’s Ignite conference in Orlando coming up next month, it’s probably a fair guess that we’ll see some of these updates make a reappearance there. The highlight of these announcements is that starting later this year, both services will get automated transcription services for video and audio files. While video is great, it’s virtually impossible to find any information in these files without spending a lot of time. And once you’ve found it, you still have to transcribe it. Microsoft says this new service will handle the transcription automatically and then display the transcript as you’re watching the video. The service can handle over
Continue reading "Microsoft will soon automatically transcribe video files in OneDrive for Office 365 subscribers"

Australia’s Simple lands $17M to grow its marketing intelligence platform worldwide

Simple, an Australia-based business that operates a platform for managing marketing strategies and campaigns, has pulled in $17 million to expand its business in the U.S. and other global markets. The round was led by BBRC Private Equity, the fund from multi-millionaire retailer Bretty Blundy, with participation from existing backer Perle Ventures. Unlike most marketing services out there, Simple doesn’t involve itself in execution. It instead is “upstream planning,” which essentially means it helps teams to manage their campaigns by focuses on areas like planning, budgeting, organization, analysis and more. The primary idea is to increase efficiency and value for money from marketing, particularly across the complexity of large and global organizations. Simple recently tie-up with Microsoft over the launch of its new ‘intelligent market platform’ which, unveiled at Microsoft’s Inspire partners’ conference in Las Vegas, is built on top of the tech giant’s Azure platform. It offers integrations with services like Microsoft
Continue reading "Australia’s Simple lands $17M to grow its marketing intelligence platform worldwide"

VMware pulls AWS’s Relational Database Service into the data center

Here’s some unusual news: AWS, Amazon’s cloud computing arm, today announced that it plans to bring its Relational Database Service (RDS) to VMware, no matter whether that’s VMware Cloud on AWS or a privately hosted VMware deployment in a corporate data center. While some of AWS’s competitors have long focused on these kinds of hybrid cloud deployments, AWS never really put the same kind of emphasis on this. Clearly, though, that’s starting to change — maybe in part because Microsoft and others are doing quite well in this space. “Managing the administrative and operational muck of databases is hard work, error-prone and resource intensive,” said AWS CEO Andy Jassy . “It’s why hundreds of thousands of customers trust Amazon RDS to manage their databases at scale. We’re excited to bring this same operationally battle-tested service to VMware customers’ on-premises and hybrid environments, which will not only make database management much easier
Continue reading "VMware pulls AWS’s Relational Database Service into the data center"

Microsoft is about to announce Xbox All Access subscription

Microsoft published a news item announcing Xbox All Access on the Xbox blog and then unpublished it. But multiple news outlets spotted the article before Microsoft could take the post down. So now that the cat is out of the bag, it looks like Microsoft’s new hardware and software subscription is real. There have been rumors over the past few weeks that Microsoft was planning to announce a new subscription. Today’s announcement lines up with those rumors. Microsoft is launching Xbox All Access in the U.S., which includes a console, Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass. You get to choose between an Xbox One S for $22 per month or an Xbox One X for $35 per month. After paying for 24 months, the subscription stops and the console is yours. You can then choose to keep paying for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass or
Continue reading "Microsoft is about to announce Xbox All Access subscription"

The Best Non-Apple Laptops at Every Price Point

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from giving my friends tech-buying advice for the last decade, it’s that not everyone wants to pay the premium for an Apple product—especially the laptops. The company’s svelte aluminum tech is indeed capable, but the starting price for a MacBook Air is still too much for the average… Read more...

Facebook and Microsoft briefed state officials on election security efforts today

So much for summer Fridays. Yesterday, BuzzFeed reported that a dozen tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Snapchat, would meet at Twitter headquarters on Friday to discuss election security. For two of them, that wasn’t the only meeting in the books. In what appears to be a separate event on Friday, Facebook and Microsoft also met with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and two bodies of state election officials, the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) and the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), about their election security efforts. The discussion was the second of its kind connecting DHS, Facebook and state election officials on “actions being taken to combat malicious interference operations.” The meetings offer two very different perspectives on threats to election security. States are largely concerned with securing voter databases and election systems, while private tech companies are waging a very
more 2018 US Midterm Election coverage
Continue reading "Facebook and Microsoft briefed state officials on election security efforts today"

Epic Games just gave a perk for folks to turn on 2FA; every other big company should, too

Let’s talk a bit about security. Most internet users around the world are pretty crap at it, but there are basic tools that companies have, and users can enable, to make their accounts, and lives, a little bit more hacker-proof. One of these — two-factor authentication — just got a big boost from Epic Games, the maker of what is currently The Most Popular Game In The World: Fortnite.

Epic is already getting a ton of great press for what amounts to very little effort.

The company is giving users a new emote (the victory dance you’ve seen emulated in airports,
Continue reading "Epic Games just gave a perk for folks to turn on 2FA; every other big company should, too"

Keeping artificial intelligence accountable to humans

As a teenager in Nigeria, I tried to build an artificial intelligence system. I was inspired by the same dream that motivated the pioneers in the field: That we could create an intelligence of pure logic and objectivity that would free humanity from human error and human foibles.

I was working with weak computer systems and intermittent electricity, and needless to say my AI project failed. Eighteen years later—as an engineer researching artificial intelligence, privacy and machine-learning algorithms—I’m seeing that so far, the premise that AI can free us from subjectivity or bias is also disappointing. We are creating intelligence in our own image. And that’s not a compliment.

Researchers have known for awhile that purportedly neutral algorithms can mirror or

Continue reading "Keeping artificial intelligence accountable to humans"

Minecraft: Education Edition is coming to iPad

Microsoft announced this morning it’s bringing Minecraft: Education Edition to the iPad for the first time. The game, which first launched to the public in late 2016, has been previously available in schools on Windows 10 devices and on macOS. The iPad software will roll out to schools starting in September, the company says. If the school is licensed through Microsoft 365 for Education (A3 or A5), teachers will already have access to Minecraft: Education Edition and may be able to download it onto iPads when it launches. However, the school administrator will need to assign the available licenses to the teachers who want to use it, in that case. For schools without a license, there are volume licensing agreements available through the Microsoft Store for Education and other resellers. Schools pay for the software on an annual subscription basis, but are able to try it out for free
Continue reading "Minecraft: Education Edition is coming to iPad"

Walmart completes its $16 billion acquisition of Flipkart

Walmart announced over the weekend that it has completed a $16 billion investment in Flipkart that sees it become the majority owner of the Indian e-commerce company. The deal was first revealed back in May and now it has closed after receiving the necessary approvals. It sees Walmart take a 77 percent share in the company, buying out a number of prior investors in the process and expanding its rivalry with Amazon to a new horizon. The investment capital also includes $2 billion in new equity funding which will be used for growth while the transaction was structured so that Flipkart itself can still go public. That latter point could mean that the Indian firm must go public within four years, as TechCrunch previously reported. Flipkart will continue to be run by its leadership with Tencent and Tiger Global retaining board seats. Those two have remained investors in the business, alongside
Continue reading "Walmart completes its $16 billion acquisition of Flipkart"

Arm wants to power your next laptop

Arm, the company that designs the chips that power virtually every smartphone and IoT device, published its roadmap for the next two years today. That’s the first time Arm has done so and the reason for this move, it seems, is that the company wants to highlight its ambitions to get its chips into laptops. So far, Arm-based laptops are far and in-between, though Microsoft recently made a major move in this direction thanks to its push for always connected Windows laptops. While that sounds great in theory, with laptops that only need a single charge to run all day, there’s still a performance penalty to pay compared to using an x86 chip. Arm says that gap is closing quockly, though, while offering a better performance/battery life balance. Indeed, Ian Smythe, Arm’s senior director of its marketing programs, doesn’t shy away from comparing the next generations of its architectures with
Continue reading "Arm wants to power your next laptop"

Top execs from 6D.AI are joining us at TechCrunch Sessions AR/VR

While the potential for entertainment in virtual and augmented reality has grabbed the most headlines, these new platforms promise radical transformations across industries and the very way that people interact with their world. And no company is doing more to develop the toolkit for how to build applications for these new interactions than 6D.AI. At our inaugural TC Sessions: AR/VR event on UCLA’s world-famous campus on October 18, join 6D.AI co-founder and chief executive Matt Miesnieks and head of developer relations, Bruce Wooden, as they discuss 6D’s big vision of using smartphone cameras to build a cloud-based map of the world’s three-dimensional data. The company’s goal is nothing short of supercharging augmented reality content in a way that could actually make it useful to people. Miesnieks certainly knows about the need for applications to drive adoption in a new ecosystem. After a career in the trenches developing mobile software infrastructure
Continue reading "Top execs from 6D.AI are joining us at TechCrunch Sessions AR/VR"

Top execs from 6D.AI are joining us at TechCrunch Sessions AR/VR

While the potential for entertainment in virtual and augmented reality has grabbed the most headlines, these new platforms promise radical transformations across industries and the very way that people interact with their world. And no company is doing more to develop the toolkit for how to build applications for these new interactions than 6D.AI. At our inaugural TC Sessions: AR/VR event on UCLA’s world-famous campus on October 18, join 6D.AI co-founder and chief executive Matt Miesnieks and head of developer relations, Bruce Wooden, as they discuss 6D’s big vision of using smartphone cameras to build a cloud-based map of the world’s three-dimensional data. The company’s goal is nothing short of supercharging augmented reality content in a way that could actually make it useful to people. Miesnieks certainly knows about the need for applications to drive adoption in a new ecosystem. After a career in the trenches developing mobile software infrastructure
Continue reading "Top execs from 6D.AI are joining us at TechCrunch Sessions AR/VR"

Y Combinator is launching a startup program in China

U.S. accelerator Y Combinator is expanding to China after it announced the hiring of former Microsoft and Baidu executive Qi Lu who will develop a standalone startup program that runs on Chinese soil. Shanghai-born Lu spent 11 years with Yahoo and eight years with Microsoft before a short spell with Baidu, where he was COO and head of the firm’s AI research division. Now he becomes founding CEO of YC China while he’s also stepping into the role of Head of YC Research. YC will also expand its research team with an office in Seattle, where Lu has plenty of links. There’s no immediate timeframe for when YC will launch its China program, which represents its first global expansion, but YC President Sam Altman told TechCrunch in an interview that the program will be based in Beijing once it is up and running. Altman said Lu will use his network
Continue reading "Y Combinator is launching a startup program in China"