Techio

Verizon gets exclusive mobile rights to sell NBA League Pass

Verizon and the NBA have expanded their digital partnership with a new deal that allows Verizon to sell subscriptions for NBA League Pass and let users stream out-of-market games through its Yahoo Sports app. League Pass subscriptions had previously been offered through Go90, but Yahoo Sports — under Verizon’s Oath brand — is an app that’s likely used by far more consumers and football fans. League Pass will cost $99 per season. In hopes of convincing them to buy in, Verizon will let viewers stream eight NBA games for free. (In-market and nationally broadcasted games that air on ESPN or Turner stations aren’t part of League Pass.)

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, this new arrangement gives Verizon mobile exclusivity on selling League Pass, effectively blocking AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint from doing the same — not that they had signaled interest in doing so. AT&T’s DirecTV satellite business is of course free to continue offering the out-of-market subscription package. Non-Verizon customers who have League Pass will be able to use it through Yahoo Sports.

Beyond the subscription service, Verizon and the NBA will create original content that will be made available across Oath properties. “We’ll work together with the NBA to create those behind-the-scenes stories, in depth on certain players, seeing what’s going on in the developmental leagues. Those are the things that a real fan wants to be immersed in,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said in a joint interview with NBA chairman Adam Silver.

They’re also working together on plans for 5G-powered augmented reality and fantasy football experiences. “The technology is now coming of age to support a vision that the commissioner’s had and that we see from a Yahoo Sports perspective. You’ll be able to take from your phone and cast it up onto your IP-based TV set. You’ll be able to integrate all those different experience and have people around the country with you and do things real time because of the latency of the network and the capacity of the network.” Any future that leans heavily on 5G is probably farther off than Verizon’s CEO would like to believe, but since this new deal is a multi-year pact, at least they’re planning ahead.

CES 2018 is over, but these hot products and trends will shape the year ahead

Like an army sweeping over a conquered city, Digital Trends writers and editors walked hundreds of miles and interrogated scores of companies at CES 2018. Our goal: to find the trends that will shape the year ahead in technology … and maybe play with some cool stuff along the way. Here’s what we learned, and how it will affect the products and tech that will shape your life in the year ahead.

Home theater

Televisions and entertainment technology remain at the heart of the Consumer Electronics Show, and 2018’s event was no slouch in this department. Last year saw the eye-popping Wallpaper OLED from LG, which took our breath away. This year Samsung made the headlines, with its new TV named simply “The Wall.” Based on a new technology called MicroLED, the TV is modular, meaning Samsung can snap several panels together to make a giant display, or just use one or two in smaller screens. OLED may remain top dog today, but this technology is the freshest idea we’ve seen in years.

The advent of 8K is hardly a step in the right direction, given the current slow rate of adoption of 4K by broadcasters.

LG was no slouch, showing off arguably the coolest product of the show: a 65-inch, rollable 4K OLED display. It’s this flexible form factor that’s poised to take the reins of all things screens in the very near future.

Meanwhile, several manufacturers showed off 8K sets, new displays that pack in four times as many pixels as 4K images. While technology must ever advance, the advent of 8K is hardly a step in the right direction, given the current slow rate of adoption of 4K by broadcasters. These panels may lead consumers to hold off on purchase of new sets, fearing that a new tech is “right around the corner.” News flash: It ain’t.

Audio

A great TV is a waste of money without great speakers to match, and the best orchestra in the world is destroyed by crappy headphones. Fortunately, at CES 2018, we saw some fantastic headphones, none more so than the Sennheiser HD 820, which uses Gorilla Glass to keep sound inside, and make some really stellar looking cans.

best audio ces 2018 clearaudio innovations

CES also served up ear candy for the big spenders, including a $45,000 turntable that knocked our socks off. But the big leap forward in audio technology is not for entertainment but everyday life: audio products that aim to improve hearing, enhance our ability to interact with the world around us, or simply solve the annoying ear-ringing malady known as tinnitus. One set of new earbuds, dubbed simply the Bragi Ears, use a specially developed algorithm to map your hearing, account for any hearing loss or tinnitus from which you may be suffering, and amplify the world around you to let you hear subtle whispers from up to 100 feet away. Now that’s innovation.

Cars

A week ago, I thought we’d see electric cars everywhere. I was wrong. Sure, there were some announcements, such as the cutesy Electra Meccanica (a car built for one) and the Byton– the latest electric car concept to debut at CES. Will it be around in two years? Who knows? But an explosion of announcements in autonomous driving turned what was starting to feel like a “next decade” promise into a “next year” promise. From partnerships to new joint ventures to entirely new companies, everyone was talking autonomous cars, giving a fresh feeling of potential to what was starting to feel like an empty promise.

Meanwhile, connected cockpits are the new driver’s seats, and a dozen companies were showing them off. These sought to answer one question: If the car drives itself, do you need a steering wheel? Or a speedometer? Or anything really? We were particularly enamored with Bosch’s vision of the future, which relies on facial recognition and haptic technology to make driving more relaxing and, ultimately, safer.

Mobile

The mobile phone space is usually quiet at CES, what with Mobile World Congress right around the corner in February. But CES is a more important show in some ways, leading many companies to push for a presence there. Huawei in particular made headlines, with a keynote presentation that was intended as the launchpad for a major push into the U.S. Geopolitics played a weird role in the show this year, however, with U.S. lawmakers urging AT&T to cut commercial ties with the Chinese company. It’s hard to sell smartphones in the U.S. without a partnership with carriers.

Accessories are a mainstay of CES, and the wireless charging pads, cradles, and mounts were hard to miss at CES, thanks to Apple’s embrace of the Qi standard – at last. Meanwhile, wireless power transmission took a few big steps forward as well, though the tech remains a little futuristic.

Computing

Intel and AMD – two bitter rivals whose back and forth has driven innovation in computing for more than a decade – called an unexpected truce at the end of 2017. Laptops at CES showed new chipsets that merge the computing power of Intel’s CPUs with AMD’s graphics capabilities, perhaps promising the best of both worlds. The products we saw were thin 2-in-1s, meaning they fold around 360 degrees to be used as tablets. And AMD’s graphics power means we can expect some decent gaming performance from both of these computers – something we rarely see in laptops at reasonable prices.

snapdragon 845 smartphone leak list news

In other chip news, Qualcomm spent a good deal of time touting its Snapdragon 845 chip, and with good reason. The Snapdragon line traditionally powers smartphones, but next-gen chips will find their way into everything, from smart watches to VR headsets. A line of Snapdragon-powered laptops will literally last for days on end. Finally, the battery life we’ve all craved!

Gadgets

What would CES be without crazy gizmos, and we saw a slew of them, including a ton of pet tech, devices that deliver Smell-O-Rama (at last), a robot that plays ping-pong, and something amazing called the Tesla Suit.

Some killer app beyond gaming is needed to push VR over the edge.

But some trends we’ve talked about a lot in the past seemed more hot air and hype than hardware. Sure, we saw 3D printers that offered astonishing new levels of speed, such as Californian company Uniz (which used a new printing tech to set a 3D world record), and caught our first official glimpse of a 3D metal printer that blew our socks off. But in general, this tech doesn’t seem to be going mainstream any time soon. Likewise, a new Vive VR headset is cool and all, but in general, some killer app beyond gaming is needed to push VR over the edge.

Other trends are here to stay, including the market for products we call “rideables,” which includes hoverboards, e-scooters, and an array of one-wheeled and two-wheeled battery powered devices. We were blown away by the IotaTrax, a new device from the guy who basically invented the entire space. It’s essentially a hybrid device that lies somewhere between a hoverboard and a self-balancing unicycle. Like a hoverboard, it has two wheels, which provide a stable riding platform. But like a unicycle, those wheels are situated between the rider’s feet. And like hoverboards and unicycles, it’s pretty awesome.

Smart home

One thing was clear from CES 2018: Google won the show.

The tech giant was everywhere at CES, setting up a giant playground in the parking lot, wrapping the Vegas monorail, buying ad space on seemingly every billboard in town, and ensuring that booths from here to the Hard Rock Café touted compatibility with Google. Google was omnipresent.

Google Booth CES 2018

David McNew/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Apple was nowhere to be found. Sure, the iPhone maker hasn’t been to CES in more than a decade, opting instead for its own high-profile events where it can control the conversation and dominate the headlines. But increasingly, it feels as though Apple is being left behind by the smart home market, which grows and evolves without it. Should Apple finally show up?

In the kitchen, appliances are finally, at last, maybe just maybe starting to get smarter, ushering in the age of what we’re calling “guided cooking.” A few years ago, countertop appliances used apps or built-in touchscreens to help cooks set the right temperature, automatically stirring contents at the right speed and duration, and giving exact measurements. This year, large appliances seem to be catching on to the trend too.

Meanwhile, Google and Alexa continue pushing into the kitchen, notably in GE’s Kitchen Hub, a huge 27-inch screen that goes above your stove. Not only does it work with Alexa and Google Assistant, it acts like an Echo Show in that it plays videos, lets you listen to playlists, and controls Zigbee and Z-Wave smart home devices.

Finally, the very air and water we breathe and drink got wrapped into the smart home trend this year. At CES, we saw an increase in the number of smart air monitors and water leak detectors. While radon, carbon monoxide, and smoke detectors have always been around, smart detectors do more than just scream at you when you’re burning the casserole in the oven. Airthings debuted a new smart indoor air quality monitor at CES that monitors carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and radon, and alerts you when the levels become dangerous.

Editors’ Recommendations

Salesfusion Launches Spiffy New Marketing Automation Tool

Salesfusion on Tuesday launched version 12 of its marketing automation solution.

Salesfusion Launches Spiffy New Marketing Automation Tool

The company rebuilt Salesfusion 12 from the ground up to provide an architecture robust enough to support “the easiest-to-use, most modern campaign creation tools available to marketers today,” said Greg Vilines, Salesfusion’s VP of product and engineering.

It provides enterprise-grade power and features without the typical price tag, he told CRM Buyer.

Dated architecture was one of the challenges the company faced, said Cindy Zhou, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“Rearchitecting enables Salesfusion to modernize their solution,” she told CRM Buyer.

The new Olympus modular automation framework, a key part of Salesfusion 12, processes campaigns and adds horsepower to handle increased workloads from traffic spikes.

Salesfusion 12 “was purpose-built for data-driven marketers who wish to build sophisticated marketing programs in a fraction of the time it previously took,” Vilines said.

Customers can try out Salesfusion 12 for two weeks for free, he noted.

Olympus’ Capabilities

Olympus leverages a scalable platform that dynamically adapts to shifts in workload volume, leveraging Amazon Web Services’ natural virtualization capabilities, Vilines said.

Other Olympus components:

  • new data processing and indexing tools for inbound activity tracking, leveraging Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose and Elasticsearch; and
  • high-speed Redshift data warehouses to power advanced analytics and core dashboards and reporting.

“With the increased collaboration between marketers and sales teams, the complexity of multiple campaigns running concurrently and the associated data collection increases,” noted Constellation’s Zhou. “This new automation framework should help customers with performance speed and processing.”

Salesfusion’s New Features

Salesfusion 12 has three new features:

  • Page Builder – which has drag-and-drop builders that let marketers create landing pages and emails rapidly without needing specialized coding skills or third-party tools;
  • Advanced Analytics, which offers custom dashboards as well as reports that allow data drilling, visualization and data storytelling; and
  • Deeper CRM integration with Salesforce, Sugar, Sage, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Infor and Bullhorn.

PageBuilder has a WYSIWYG interface that lets users add images, videos and buttons. Users can build completely mobile-responsive pages that work across all devices.

PageBuilder leverages Salesfusion’s Form Builder and automated actions to streamline interactions with prospects and customers.

Salesfusion 12 includes the Advanced Analytics platform, a new business intelligence module that lets users leverage marketing data to monitor campaign performance and connect marketing activities to revenue.

Salesfusion analytics dashboard

Click Image to Enlarge

Advanced Analytics was released in August as an add-on module for a fee, but is now included in Salesfusion 12, Vilines said. Further, it has new features – opportunity, ROI and funnel reporting.

For CRM integration, Salesfusion 12 includes integration with custom objects in both Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce. It has deepened connectivity with Bullhorn, and it integrates with campaigns in Salesforce, Infor and Microsoft Dynamics.

“Additional integrations with CRM will be important in making Salesfusion attractive,” said Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research, “particularly with CRM vendors like Microsoft that don’t have marketing automation capabilities in their core product.”

Salesfusion has always rated high on usability,” she told CRM Buyer. “These advancements will likely make it more attractive, particularly for organizations where marketers wear several hats — in SMBs — or aren’t everyday users of the application.”

Salesfusion has customers in various industries, including technology, healthcare, finance and recruiting, Vilines said.

Future Plans for Salesfusion 12

Salesfusion will release new features continually over the next few months as part of the Salesfusion 12 launch, including the following:

  • Account View — reshaping ABM efforts to facilitate better insights and account actions;
  • Response Prospector, which will leverage machine learning and AI to find new leads and keep databases up to date; and
  • An updated REST API, which will craft new ways to integrate directly to Salesfusion’s platform.

“Many of the marketing automation leaders are building AI capabilities into their solution,” Zhou noted.

In this respect, Salesfusion may have to work hard to catch up — companies such as Boomtrain, Abert and Blueshift already offer AI-powered marketing automation products.

Still, Salesfusion continuously improves its core infrastructure, Vilines emphasized, “to meet the ever-changing needs of marketers.”


Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

Samsung unveils special Note 8 for PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games

Samsung has unveiled a new special edition of the Galaxy Note 8 phablet, themed around the upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Samsung will be supplying 4,000 of the special Note 8s to all Olympians, IOC, and POCOG staff, with the Korean company hoping that the Note 8’s massive 6.3-inch screen, and included S Pen will allow everyone involved in the Olympic Games to “do bigger things,, and the incredible dual-sensor camera will help all of the athletes and workers involved in the games document this incredible portion of their lives.

The new design celebrates the Winter Olympics with an all-new shiny white glass back overlaid with the Olympic logo: five interconnected gold rings that symbolize the unity of the five continents, the world, and the Olympic Torch. A collection of PyeongChang 2018-themed wallpapers will also be included, and each device will also have pre-installed Olympic apps that Samsung hopes will be useful to each of the recipients of the special Note 8s.

“We’re proud to provide the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games Limited Edition to all athletes in an effort to help them to stay connected, capture and share one of the most memorable moments of their lives”

– Samsung CMO and Executive Vice President, Younghee Lee.

The Paralympians taking part in the Winter Paralympic Games haven’t been left out, either, and Samsung will also be supplying all of them with the same Note 8 special edition, with the addition of special Paralympics-themed case to commemorate the role that smart devices have played in assisting those with disabilities.

This isn’t the first time that Samsung has gotten involved in the Olympic Games. The company began sponsoring the games way back in 1988 when it entered as a local sponsor during the Seoul Olympic Games. Since then, Samsung became the Worldwide Olympic Partner in the Wireless Communications Equipment category at the Nagano Winter Games in 1998, and handed out over 12,000 special edition Galaxy S7 Edge devices to Olympians during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The company has also sponsored the Paralympic Games since the Winter Vancouver Olympics in 2010, becoming a World Paralympic Partner.

These units will not be available to the public, being exclusively made for members of the Olympic and Paralympic family, but with Samsung also involved in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, you can be sure it has something planned for those games as well — so if you want to get your hands on a special Samsung device, it’s best to hit the track.

Editors’ Recommendations

Nintendo Labo is a new DIY way to play games on the Switch

Nintendo has revealed a whole new lineup of video game accessories for the Switch … and they’re all made of cardboard.

Nintendo Labo is a new line of accessories that allow players to transform their Switch console and Joy-Con controllers into new ways to play. The different Labo creations (called Toy-Cons) include one that turns the Joy-Con into a fishing rod and another that turns the Switch into a 13-key piano. They all require a bit of DIY construction and interact with the console in different ways.

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Nintendo Labo takes advantage of the infrared motion camera in the right Joy-Con to detect what’s happening with the cardboard creations and translate it into a game. For instance, with the Toy-Con Piano, when players press down a key, the Joy-Con will sense it and trigger that note in the game you’re playing.

Nintendo Labo is launching with two different kits, the Variety Kit and the Robot Kit. The Variety Kit contains multiple Toy-Cons, including the Toy-Con Fishing Rod, the Toy-Con Piano, two Toy-Con RC Cars, a Toy-Con Motorbike, and a Toy-Con House. The Robot Kit turns your Switch and Joy-Cons into a Toy-Con Robot that allows you to control a robot with a backpack on your back, a visor on your head, and straps for your hands and feet.

Image: nintendo

One of the most interesting Toy-Cons is the one that turns a pair of Joy-Cons into an RC Car that you control with the Switch’s touch screen. Instead of using wheels to move around, the Toy-Con RC Car uses the controllers’ HD rumble feature to move via vibrations.

The Toy-Con House is basically a cardboard house that’s home to a cute creature you can interact with and feed, like a souped-up tamagotchi.

For fans of racing games, the Toy-Con Motorbike turns the Joy-Cons into handlebars which you twist and turn to control a motorbike on the Nintendo Switch’s screen.

Image: nintendo

The Variety Kit and Robot Kit, which are $69.99 and $79.99 respectively, come with all the necessary components — including software — to work. Both kits launch on April 20.

Nintendo Labo is one of the first projects on the Nintendo Switch that utilizes the right Joy-Con’s infrared motion sensor outside of a few of the minigames in the launch game 1-2-Switch

Nintendo Labo is being marketed toward younger gamers, but there’s no reason an adult wouldn’t enjoy putting together their own cardboard fishing rod for some indoor angling. Or outdoor angling, because the Switch is portable.

On top of the announced Toy-Cons, the reveal video appears to tease a few other Labo creations — including one that looks like a camera and one that looks like a gun.

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