Facebook says it’s shipping new Portal hardware in the fall


This post is by Lucas Matney from TechCrunch


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Facebook’s Portal devices may still have plenty of privacy questions lingering around them since launch, but that hasn’t swayed the company’s dedication to bringing more video chat hardware to market.

Onstage at Vox Media’s Code Convention, Facebook’s VP of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth shares that sales of the existing hardware were “really good,” but more interestingly let fly that there would be new form factors of Portal hardware coming to market in the fall of this year.

 

Most signs point to this device being the “Ripley” device that popped up in Portal firmware code late last year. Cheddar had reported that the camera device would attach to the top of a TV and pipe the video feed to its screen. This cuts down on the need to have a wholly dedicated video chat device and allows Facebook to put their hardware in more central locations in people’s homes.

There is

Continue reading “Facebook says it’s shipping new Portal hardware in the fall”

Facebook’s Portal will now surveil your living room for half the price


This post is by Taylor Hatmaker from TechCrunch


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No, you’re not misremembering the details from that young adult dystopian fiction you’re reading — Facebook really does sell a video chat camera adept at tracking the faces of you and your loved ones. Now, you too can own Facebook’s poorly timed foray into social hardware for the low, low price of $99. That’s a pretty big price drop considering that the Portal, introduced less than six months ago, debuted at $199.

Unfortunately for whoever toiled away on Facebook’s hardware experiment, the device launched into an extremely Facebook-averse, notably privacy-conscious market. Those are pretty serious headwinds. Of course, plenty of regular users aren’t concerned about privacy — but they certainly should be.

As we found in our review, Facebook’s Portal is actually a pretty competent device with some thoughtful design touches. Still, that doesn’t really offset the unsettling idea of inviting a company notorious for disregarding user privacy into

Continue reading “Facebook’s Portal will now surveil your living room for half the price”

Portal automatically opens doors for wheelchair users, no button pressing required


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Buttons or plates (like the one above) that automatically open doors can do a lot to make a building more accessible, but they aren’t always a perfect solution. For wheelchair users with limited upper body movement, the buttons can be tough to hit. Other times, the button is installed poorly — too high, too low, or just too far from the door to be useful, with the door closing too fast.

Portal Entryways is a startup trying to make these existing buttons more useful. They’ve built a device that piggybacks on top of existing access buttons, allowing these doors to be opened automatically (and, importantly, kept open) when a wheelchair user approaches.

Portal’s product has two components: a piece of Bluetooth Low Energy-enabled hardware that hooks into the existing door opening system, and a companion app running on the wheelchair user’s smartphone. The app searches for these Bluetooth Low Energy

Continue reading “Portal automatically opens doors for wheelchair users, no button pressing required”

Facebook says it will ask employees to take down glowing Portal reviews on Amazon


This post is by Brian Heater from TechCrunch


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The reception to Facebook Portal has been, at best, a mixed bag. Between the company’s ongoing privacy woes and a lackluster response, Facebook likely didn’t get the response it was anticipating for its first in-house hardware creation. Still, both the Portal and Portal Plus are floating around the four-star mark over on Amazon. Not too shabby.

New York Times columnist Kevin Roose noticed something fishy in all of this, noting on Twitter that many of the verified reviewers on the site bore the same names as Facebook employees. “Reviewing your employer’s products is definitely against Amazon’s rules,” he wrote today. “It’s also not exactly an indicator of confidence in how well they’re selling organically!”

Facebook starts shipping Portal, clarifies privacy/ad policy


This post is by Brian Heater from TechCrunch


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Planning to get in early on the Portal phenomenon? Facebook announced today that it’s starting to ship the video chat device. The company’s first true piece of devoted hardware comes in two configurations: the Echo Show-like Portal and the larger Portal+ . Which run $199 and $349, respectively. There’s also a two-fer $298 bundle on the smaller unit.

The device raised some privacy red flags since it was announced early last month. The company attempted to nip some of the those issues in the bud ahead of launch — after all, 2018 hasn’t been a great year for Facebook privacy. The site also hasn’t done itself any favors by offering some murky comments around data tracking and ad targeting in subsequent weeks.

With all that in mind, Facebook is also marking the launch with a blog post further spelling out Portal’s privacy policy. Top level, the company promises not to

Continue reading “Facebook starts shipping Portal, clarifies privacy/ad policy”

A fictional Facebook Portal videochat with Mark Zuckerberg


This post is by Natasha Lomas from TechCrunch


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TechCrunch: Hey Portal, dial Mark

Portal: Do you mean Mark Zuckerberg?

TC: Yes

Portal: Dialling Mark…


TC: Hi Mark! Nice choice of grey t-shirt.

MZ: Uh, new phone who dis? — oh, hi, er, TechCrunch…

TC: Thanks for agreeing to this entirely fictional interview, Mark!

MZ: Sure — anytime. But you don’t mind if I tape over the camera do you? You see I’m a bit concerned about my privacy here at, like, home

TC: We feel you, go ahead.

As you can see, we already took the precaution of wearing this large rubber face mask of, well, of yourself Mark. And covering the contents of our bedroom with these paint-splattered decorator sheets.

MZ: Yeah, I saw that. It’s a bit creepy tbh

TC: Go on and get all taped up. We’ll wait.

[sound of Mark calling Priscilla to bring the tape dispenser]

[Portal’s camera jumps out to assimilate

Continue reading “A fictional Facebook Portal videochat with Mark Zuckerberg”

Facebook tries its hand at hardware with Portal


This post is by Brian Heater from TechCrunch


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Portal is not Facebook’s Echo Show. Call it a case of convergent evolution, wherein two companies arrived at similar looking products after approaching hardware from different angles. The problem Facebook sought to solve is one of face to face communication. It’s an attempt to remove the device from the act of video chatting.

That Facebook, Amazon and Google’s smart display partners all ended up at a similar place is no coincidence, of course. Like those smart displays, the home teleconferencing device is essentially a propped up tablet. With Portal, however, the system takes two distinct form factors.

There’s the standard Portal, which looks quite a bit like Lenovo’s recently released Google Assistant Smart Display, and the more compelling Portal Plus. That larger model, with a 15 inch display (1920 x 1080) brings to mind recent enterprise attempts at telepresence robotics. The base is stationary here, but the display orientation can

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Portal offers an easy way to pay creators for their content


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Portal founder Jonathan Swerdlin is just the latest media pundit to point to advertising as the root cause of the industry’s problems. But he’s not content to diagnose the illness — he thinks he’s created a cure.

“Digital media has become toxic, in part, because of advertising,” Swerdlin said. “The unmet and unarticulated need is a peer-to-peer economy where you’re rewarded for creating value, rather than a quantity model” where a publisher or creator’s main economic incentive is to attract as many eyeballs as possible.

Naturally, that’s what Swerdlin is trying to offer in Portal. When you open the app, you follow creators and topics that interest you, then get presented with a feed of videos. During or after the video, you can tip the creator in Portal coins — the current price is 1 cent per coin, and individual payments can be anything from 10 to 10,000 coins.

This

Jonathan Swerdlin

Continue reading “Portal offers an easy way to pay creators for their content”

Watch how Portal would work in the real world thanks to Microsoft HoloLens


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portal-hololens Valve’s Portal series is one of the more beloved in PC gaming, thanks to its debut of unique puzzle mechanics to inject some fresh life in the tired first-person action genre. The game looks even more interesting when you’re using its unique mechanics overlaid on the real world, with virtual objects interacting seamlessly with concrete things like tables, walls and floors.… Read More

Portal’s router searches for hidden wireless channels


This post is by Brian Heater from TechCrunch


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enviro-1 Spare a thought this morning for the router. Ubiquitous, necessary, largely despised. Given how far we’ve come in the world of consumer electronics over the past several years, you’d think someone would have cracked the code by now. Hey, if a company can make thermostats and smoke detectors sexy, surely the same can be done for the lowly router. Announced back in May by a group… Read More

Portal Lets You Use Your iPhone As A Wireless Thumbdrive


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portal Portal, a recently launched Android app that lets you move large files between your computer and your smartphone via your Wi-Fi connection, has today made its way to iOS. The new version offers a better alternative to something like Apple’s AirDrop, for example, as it lets you transfer as many files as you’d like, with no file size limits, while also not counting against your data… Read More

Watch Portal come to life thanks to Microsoft’s Kinect


This post is by Emil Protalinski from VentureBeat


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portal_kinect


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Valve’s Portal video game has spawned thousands of videos that appear to bring the game’s holographic windows to real life. This video is different.

Creative software designer Roland Smeenk built a system that leverages Microsoft’s Kinect V2 sensor to recreate Portal’s portals in real time. He uses one Kinect to record a 3D view of the world in real-time and another track the head of the user to see where they are looking.

In this way, Smeenk can reconstruct the camera view as if the user is looking through a virtual window by using a projector connected to his laptop. Taking it a step further, he uses both Kinects for 3D world reconstruction and head tracking to recreate a two-way portal effect:

The projector shows one portal and the laptop shows the other. To ensure proper head tracking, the setup opens a portal as soon as a user is detected by the Kinect.

Smeenk notes there is a size limitation to consider: smaller portals hide more of the other side of the scene and allow for larger head movements because the field of view is limited. There is also a distance limitation (about 7 meters when using USB3 extensions cables) because latency is being minimized by only transferring the recorded bodyframes through a network connection (as opposed to transferring the whole recorded 3D scene).

This is quite the technical achievement given that Kinect wasn’t built for this type of thing. Yet Microsoft’s HoloLens was.

Continue reading “Watch Portal come to life thanks to Microsoft’s Kinect”

Facebook has only “pivoted” on one kind of privacy — in other ways, it’s becoming more dangerous


This post is by David Meyer from Gigaom


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When it comes to Facebook, there’s privacy and there’s privacy. And the way things are playing out, improvements on one kind of privacy could in effect act to the detriment of the other.
Facebook has only “pivoted” on one kind of privacy — in other ways, it’s becoming more dangerous originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2014.

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Half-Life 2 comes to Nvidia’s Shield portable game machine


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Half-Life 2 comes to Nvidia’s Shield portable game machine

Above: Nvidia Shield runs Portal and Half-Life 2

Image Credit: Nvidia

Nvidia announced today that Valve has made Half-Life 2 available on its Shield portable gaming machine.

That may not sound like a system-selling announcement, but it is interesting since you can bet that Valve and Nvidia must be in conversations about doing a SteamOS version of the Shield at some point in the future. This announcement suggests that Nvidia and Valve are closely aligned.

Valve is creating the SteamOS and Steam Machine platform that other device makers can use to build high-end gaming machines for launch this fall. Nvidia’s $199 Shield device is based on Android, so players can download Half-Life 2 from the Google Play store. Nvidia previously announced that Portal would be available on the Shield via Google Play.

There are now 300 Android games available on Shield. Nvidia hasn’t said how many machines it has sold, and that probably means that it’s not worth bragging about.

“Nvidia has done a remarkable job bringing both Half-Life 2 and Portal to Shield,” said Doug Lombardi vice president of marketing at Valve, in a statement. “We’re playing both games here on our Shields and fans of both franchises can expect the same gameplay they’ve come to love on the PC.”

Nvidia says that it will deliver a PC-like native experience for Half-Life 2 on Android.


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Nvidia Shield Gets Half-Life 2 And Portal As Valve Classics Get Their Android Moment


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half-life-2-portal-header Nvidia’s Shield mobile gaming console has two powerful new titles under its belt today – Half-Life 2 and Portal, both from celebrated developer turned platform creator Valve, and both appearing for the first time on Android. Nvidia worked on these ports with the guidance and blessing of Valve, so they’re understandably exclusive to the graphics company’s unique Shield… Read More

Portal Will Come To Android Via Nvidia And Shield


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Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Portal, the now-classic first-person puzzle game from Valve, will finally get an Android port thanks to Nvidia, the company announced today (via Verge). It’s going to be a full port spearheaded by Nvidia, optimized for the Shield Android-powered game console, and while there’s no timeline on its launch, it is “coming soon” so expect it in 2014 at least. The game is being… Read More

The power of science lures viewers (and famous people) to NASA’s original videos


This post is by from Gigaom


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




There aren’t a lot of things the internet loves unconditionally, but on that list, right behind cats and bacon, comes the video game Portal. Created by Valve, the series challenges players with mind-bending puzzles while being taunted by a snarky, evil artificial intelligence, known as GLaDOS and voiced by actress Ellen McLain.

GLaDOS is so beloved that McLain has been enlisted for no shortage of projects riffing on Portal‘s popularity; just last year, director Guillermo del Toro cast her as the voice of the computer in Pacific Rim. But McLain’s most recent project brought her to NASA.

“Fusion vs. Fission,” stars Casey McKinnon and Mike Romo as two bumbling technicians learning the difference between fusion and fission in a kid-friendly fashion, while McLain’s evil AI formulates a plot for world domination.


While McLain is not officially playing GLaDOS in the short (she’s instead credited as “NASA’s Official Talking General Leisure and Diversion Operational Server”), the short’s debt to Portal is clear — fortunately, Valve proved easy to work with.

“Valve has a very liberal policy to using their content — effectively, for what we wanted to do, there were no problems,” director/producer Tim Pyle said via phone. This even included using one of the official in-game logos on screen — all Valve asked for in exchange was a thank you credit and mention of their copyright.

“Things about Portal were given to me like gifts over a couple of weeks,” McKinnon said via Skype. “I found out about Ellen, I got the script, and they started ordering costumes and asked me what size I was — it was revealed over time that they wanted me to look like Chell [the game’s protagonist].”

Thanks to McLain and the short’s numerous other Portal references, “Fusion vs. Fission” received huge pick-up by video game blogs, which led to it becoming the most-viewed video on the NASA Spitzer Science Telescope’s YouTube channel in just three weeks. Which is a pretty impressive feat, given the star power that Pyle has been able to enlist for his IRrelevant Astronomy series, luring celebrities in largely by appealing to their love of science.

Guest stars in IRrelevant Astronomy videos have included Felicia Day explaining galactic collisions, Linda Hamilton battling evil robots, and Cameron Diaz as actor Cameron Diaz. “We work with a lot of people who like NASA, but who also like science and education,” Pyle said. “Their hopes tend to mirror our own.”

According to Pyle, when Diaz actually showed up for her shoot, she brought with her a few of her own custom-printed “I [Heart] NASA” T-shirts.


Said McKinnon, “This is the closest I’m ever going to get, as an actor, to working for NASA — and it meant I could tell my daddy that I was working for NASA.”

But while Pyle is a full-time NASA employee, IRrelevant Astronomy, in Pyle’s words, is “very much not my full-time job.” Instead, as a “multimedia engineer” working for JPL (which is funded by NASA), his primary job is to create artwork and video to support the public affairs department.

For IRrelevant Astronomy, lead science writer and education advisor Carolyn Brinkworth comes up with the science points they want the video to address; then, Pyle handles the actual production of the videos, from scripting to graphics.

“Fusion vs. Fission” was actually shot last September, according to McKinnon, with the ensuing months devoted to post-production in between Pyle’s other responsibilities. “This is why there are months between videos,” Pyle said. “Because we don’t have the budget.”

While the series is clearly educational in nature, and funded by NASA as part of its commitment to education and public outreach, there aren’t yet full lesson plans in place to accompany the videos.

According to Brinkworth via phone, it’s an issue of budget — they don’t have the funding yet. But in the meantime, she makes sure that the videos meet next generation science standards.

Pyle currently has at least one more video finished, though wasn’t able to divulge any details about it “because it’s connected to something that’s not quite finished on NASA’s end.” However, he was excited about it.

“If there’s a mission statement to IRrelevant Astronomy,” he added, “It’s to reach out to people who might not be interested in science themselves.”

<

p>

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The power of science lures viewers (and famous people) to NASA’s original videos


This post is by from Gigaom


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




There aren’t a lot of things the internet loves unconditionally, but on that list, right behind cats and bacon, comes the video game Portal. Created by Valve, the series challenges players with mind-bending puzzles while being taunted by a snarky, evil artificial intelligence, known as GLaDOS and voiced by actress Ellen McLain.

GLaDOS is so beloved that McLain has been enlisted for no shortage of projects riffing on Portal‘s popularity; just last year, director Guillermo del Toro cast her as the voice of the computer in Pacific Rim. But McLain’s most recent project brought her to NASA.

“Fusion vs. Fission,” stars Casey McKinnon and Mike Romo as two bumbling technicians learning the difference between fusion and fission in a kid-friendly fashion, while McLain’s evil AI formulates a plot for world domination.


While McLain is not officially playing GLaDOS in the short (she’s instead credited as “NASA’s Official Talking General Leisure and Diversion Operational Server”), the short’s debt to Portal is clear — fortunately, Valve proved easy to work with.

“Valve has a very liberal policy to using their content — effectively, for what we wanted to do, there were no problems,” director/producer Tim Pyle said via phone. This even included using one of the official in-game logos on screen — all Valve asked for in exchange was a thank you credit and mention of their copyright.

“Things about Portal were given to me like gifts over a couple of weeks,” McKinnon said via Skype. “I found out about Ellen, I got the script, and they started ordering costumes and asked me what size I was — it was revealed over time that they wanted me to look like Chell [the game’s protagonist].”

Thanks to McLain and the short’s numerous other Portal references, “Fusion vs. Fission” received huge pick-up by video game blogs, which led to it becoming the most-viewed video on the NASA Spitzer Science Telescope’s YouTube channel in just three weeks. Which is a pretty impressive feat, given the star power that Pyle has been able to enlist for his IRrelevant Astronomy series, luring celebrities in largely by appealing to their love of science.

Guest stars in IRrelevant Astronomy videos have included Felicia Day explaining galactic collisions, Linda Hamilton battling evil robots, and Cameron Diaz as actor Cameron Diaz. “We work with a lot of people who like NASA, but who also like science and education,” Pyle said. “Their hopes tend to mirror our own.”

According to Pyle, when Diaz actually showed up for her shoot, she brought with her a few of her own custom-printed “I [Heart] NASA” T-shirts.


Said McKinnon, “This is the closest I’m ever going to get, as an actor, to working for NASA — and it meant I could tell my daddy that I was working for NASA.”

But while Pyle is a full-time NASA employee, IRrelevant Astronomy, in Pyle’s words, is “very much not my full-time job.” Instead, as a “multimedia engineer” working for JPL (which is funded by NASA), his primary job is to create artwork and video to support the public affairs department.

For IRrelevant Astronomy, lead science writer and education advisor Carolyn Brinkworth comes up with the science points they want the video to address; then, Pyle handles the actual production of the videos, from scripting to graphics.

“Fusion vs. Fission” was actually shot last September, according to McKinnon, with the ensuing months devoted to post-production in between Pyle’s other responsibilities. “This is why there are months between videos,” Pyle said. “Because we don’t have the budget.”

While the series is clearly educational in nature, and funded by NASA as part of its commitment to education and public outreach, there aren’t yet full lesson plans in place to accompany the videos.

According to Brinkworth via phone, it’s an issue of budget — they don’t have the funding yet. But in the meantime, she makes sure that the videos meet next generation science standards.

Pyle currently has at least one more video finished, though wasn’t able to divulge any details about it “because it’s connected to something that’s not quite finished on NASA’s end.” However, he was excited about it.

“If there’s a mission statement to IRrelevant Astronomy,” he added, “It’s to reach out to people who might not be interested in science themselves.”

<

p>

Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:
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AOL Turns Moviefone Over to BermanBraun for Reboot


This post is by from AllThingsD » Kara Swisher


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Moviefone-iPad-App-Screenshot-4

After buying it in 1999 — at the height of the Web 1.0 bubble — for upwards of $500 million in stock, AOL has pretty much let Moviefone languish ever since.

As others — from a myriad of entertainment content sites to the Fandango movie ticketing and content site to premium video distributor Netflix — have boomed, the old-school movie and ticket information site has decidedly not.

No longer, it seems. The New York-based Internet portal said it has partnered with Hollywood’s BermanBraun to “reimagine” Moviefone.

That will include a new design and user experience, including new mobile apps and bulking up of its social and content features, by early 2014.

AOL said that BermanBraun will now essentially manage Moviefone’s content, product and creative development, although AOL will retain ownership of the brand and run advertising sales in collaboration with their partner.

It’s an interesting and unusual move, because this partnership assumes AOL can’t fix what’s ailing Moviefone with its own internal resources. The site and apps got its last redo in 2010, also under CEO Tim Armstrong.

(Using outside expertise to fix existing digital assets within big companies seems to be a trend — former AOL exec Tina Sharkey just took over at Sherpa Foundry, which is aimed at that effort.)

Both parties declined to say what BermanBraun will be getting out of the deal. My guess: Perhaps fees for the remake or some renumeration if it manages to up the value of the property significantly.

In addition, the pair said in a press release that Moviefone would also become a “utility for consumers to find and watch premium content on all devices.”

It’s not clear what that means — a new distribution play, perhaps? — but it’s a much needed upgrade for the service that was founded in 1989 as a way to find movie times via a telephone.

The time may be right. Now, everything old is new again, it seems, as the explosion of smartphones and other mobile devices allows the old Moviefone name to actually feel current.

AOL and BermanBraun have worked on several projects together, with the entertainment and digital production studio creating sites for men (Mandatory), pets (PawNation) and weather (Skye) for AOL.

In fact, the relationship goes back further than that — Lloyd Braun and AOL Brand Group CEO Susan Lyne once led Disney’s ABC television network together and developed hits such as “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“Moviefone has huge awareness, but the product needs to be overhauled for a mobile world,” said Lyne. “This is as rich a time as ever to see great long form entertainment … I think we will have a unique offering next year and then it’s up to all of us to make it your first choice for entertainment.”

BermanBraun also has other properties that could be used on Moviefone, such as its Wonderwall celebrity site. It is perhaps one of the more ideal partners for such an overhaul, given its experience both digitally and with its deep ties in Hollywood.

“We see the reimagination of Moviefone as a perfect vehicle to showcase how content and technology can be seamlessly and effectively married in our mobile world,” said Braun. “We believe that the consumer and media companies can all benefit by having premium content showcased and framed in new and exciting ways.”

But perhaps the best idea would be to just hire Kramer: