Xbox, Minecraft, and What’s New in Tech

Modern technology had made it feasible for nearly every consumer to get their hands on a personal virtual reality device. Virtual reality is a hot topic, as everyday consumers are just now readily obtaining such technology. Despite virtual reality being so popular, Xbox One X’s new release said nothing about virtual reality on the upcoming console.


Some gamers had expected Microsoft to release news regarding a virtual reality headset with the Xbox One X, because of Microsoft’s increased attention to virtual reality hardware. These VR headsets are expected to be produced by partners Dell, HP, and Acer, among others, with selling points lower than those of HTC and Oculus. Microsoft did say that they expected to further simulated reality on computers, not necessarily on the upcoming Xbox One X.


Microsoft has, however, announced some good news. The upcoming Xbox One X will feature backwards compatibility all the way back to original Xbox games.


Not all news is Microsoft-related, however. Minecraft has recently been granted the ability of multi-console availability, allowing players to save the same worlds across all devices.


Electronic Arts recently announced the upcoming release of Star Wars Battlefront 2. This game will allow players to game from the view of multiple popular, recognizable characters such as Darth Maul and Luke Skywalker. EA will also be releasing Madden 18.


Madden 18 is more than just another football game — players have the option of playing a story-based game mode called “Longshot.” The new mode is similar to a movie in which you, the player, controls what paths the character takes. Madden 18’s new Longshot mode will showcase Mahershala Ali as its featured actor.


The Strange Situation With Tech Stocks

Tech stocks are not exactly doing well lately. Apple has taken a plunge. Netflix is down somewhat. Other stocks are disappointing those who thought they could make a nice return in short order. Tech stocks had been delivering huge earnings in 2017 so assumptions tech would keep doing well were not exactly off the mark. The massive growth of Amazon revealed that tech stocks were good bets. Early June 2017, however, shows the tech world is not the proverbial hottest ticket in town anymore.


The industry does present bright spots along with stocks doing fairly well. Nvidia stock performed excellently despite the overall downtrend of the market. While Apple lost 3% of its worth, Nvidia’s price climbed quite high. In less than a year the stock went from below $50 a share to over $149. That is one massive return.


The word “bubble” is being used a lot these days. Specifically, analysts great and small keep talking about a “tech bubble.” The concept of a stock bubble centers on the notion the bubble expands in the form of increasing value and then bursts. The bursts reflects and immediate and massive decline in stock value price.


Bubbles can and do occur. A cursory glance of the past 100 years of financial history reveals instances of bubbles and their subsequent crashes. Assumptions that a tech bubble is possible make sense, but so does the notion these assessments are overstated. Apple, for example, is a multi-billion dollar company that has been around for decades. Apple generates untold billions of dollars in revenue each and every year. The idea that Apple — or Google or Amazon — will experience a major crash and never bounce back is possible. Is it probable, though?


Accelerators Continue Funding AI for Business

Artificial intelligence is most often seen as a consumer-driven innovation. AI-powered home assistants are available through numerous platforms and are designed to make life efficient. However as more businesses are struggling to make sense of their data, artificial intelligence is prepping to take on a new role in the office. From bots to analysis, AI for business is gaining accelerator funding.


Marketing, sales and customer service are the areas most likely to see a rise in AI powered bots. Already, customers interact with AI powered customer service, but start-ups are now developing virtual agents that can replace live-chat agents and others. These bots aren’t entirely innovative in the sense that they merely extend the kind of artificial intelligence consumers use at home into their daily interactions with other services. But start-ups, like Clair, test consumer products and ads without having to engage with consumers at all. This establishes Clair as a true AI tool for business. Scribe, another recently seeded startup, uses AI to identify new leads. The tech can potentially replace sales reps, or at least take over one area of their job.


Analysts predict that AI-powered technologies are likely to pivot in the upcoming months. The current use of bots, for instance, might be one stepping stone toward other technologies that will be used in other settings. So instead of customer service, marketing and sales bots, organizations might start applying these tools in numerous ways and settings. The most recent commercials from IBM come to mind. In the ads, Watson helps basketball coaches run predictive analytics on player performance; Watson assists IT professionals faced with security issues and finally, Watson shortens the time it takes to complete tedious tasks. Watson may speak like a bot, but it doesn’t think like one.


Considering AI’s potential in an enterprise setting, it is no surprise that accelerators are backing AI business technologies. Bots might seem small right now, but they aren’t the end of the line.


2 Ways The Technology World Will Change In The Next Ten Years

Technology is always changing all around us. The pace at which it changes is incredibly fast and only getting faster. This is why many are excited to look ahead to the future and try to guess where it will go next. There are some saying that the next ten years are going to bring a lot of exciting changes to the technology realm. Network World has detailed some of these potential futures.


The Technology Industry Will Become More Diverse


One thing that some are very excited about is that it is expected that the technology industry itself will become more diverse. Right now it is primarily dominated by white men, but that is finally starting to change.


Silicon Valley has had to come to grips with the issue that there are not enough women and minorities in their ranks. It means that they are missing out on particular perspectives and they are not able to serve as broad of a market as they possibly could.


One tech company (Intel) even recently put out its diversity numbers and vowed to make them more accurately reflect the American public by 2020. That is a promising sign for us all.


Cloud Computing Will Be Everywhere


You could still confuse some people with the term “the cloud” in recent years, but that is starting to change. Cloud computing is already taking up an increasing amount of our technology life, but it is going to become exactly what we do with most things in the technology realm ten years from now if not sooner.


Cloud computing will make our lives easier because it will help to automate a lot of the processing that we have to do manually today. This is highly important because even a few seconds saved can make a big difference in the lives of the average person. This is an exciting element of the future that seems almost guaranteed to happen in technology.

Apple Shares Continues to Drop

Technology stocks in the US are on the plunge since Friday last week. Among the companies that have been affected most is Apple whose shares fell by 4 percent today. This happens to be the second day running as Apple had recorded a stock fall of 3 percent on Friday. This means that the technology giant has recorded a 7 percent decline in the last two business days. However, experts say that the Monday decline was as a result of the action carried out by Mizuho. Mizuho decided to downgrade their stocks to neutral which resulted in Apple’s shares dropping from $160 to $150. However, the managing director of Mizuho said that they believed that things are about to change and the stocks will pick in the coming days.


On Friday morning at around 10: 40 am, Apple stocks had dropped by 2.9 percent and they were worth $144.65. Correctively, the stocks fell by a margin of 2.9 percent on Friday. Apple stocks finished the day on Thursday at a high of $154.99. However, experts say that Apple gains in the coming weeks will be limited by the expectation that iPhone 8 will be bought by many customers across the globe. Since consumers are expecting the release of iPhone 8, they will not buy any iPhone in the coming months until the new model is released. Customers are also hopeful that the new iPhone will incorporate the new OLED display technology. However, customers do not expect to incur any extra cost on this feature.


Experts also say that Apple expansion in China will remain weak. At the same time, sales in India are expected to remain low as many people in the country cannot afford Apple devices. However, the company will experience growth in revenue in the coming two years. At the moment, Apple is estimated to have overseas cash holdings of $170 billion. The hard economic times facing the company is a sign that the market is currently characterized by volatility.


Dick Devos helps create a momentum that gives parents and students more choices

Dick Devos and his wife Betsy are from Grand Rapids, Michigan. They are known as the wallet of Western Michigan. The Devos got this title due to charitable contributions reaching close to $139 million dollars in a 16 year span. The charitable contributions that were made were towards organizations that has to do with Education reform and scholarships for private schools. Dick also donated to leadership programs, arts and culture, health and human services, and churches. There were political donations as well. The spending of half the Devos family’s fortune estimated at $5.2 billion has gone towards the priority of improving education.


26 percent of the charitable donations in 2015 were educational causes. Dick feels that the children that grow up in the neighborhoods less fortunate, that they are denied the education to access the American Dream. He has felt that the system is a one-size-fits-all when it comes to the public education platform. He feels that charter schools and vouchers addresses this. Dick has also made a considerably large donation towards the construction of a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids.


Dick feels that education should be a priority and that parents as well as students should have a choice when it comes to education. Dick and his wife Betsy support Education reform. They know there are a lot of compassionate teachers and educators out there. They feel like they would work well with a education system with choices. Dick founded an aviation charter high school located at the Grand Rapids International Airport. This charter school has a third of its students classified as economically disadvantaged. Forty percent of the students are minorities and some travel at least an hour to get to the school. The graduation rate of this school is around eighty-six percent. This school’s graduates had at least 15 licensed pilots. The school teaches the students subjects they wouldn’t get in a public school such as, aeronautical engineering and robotics. The students are not only Grand Rapids residences, they also come from seven of the surrounding counties. Dick insists that the bulk of the donations are aimed to help people directly and with the vouchers for private schools in other states and charter school the donations are helping the people directly.


Snapchat to Improve Its Advertising Services

Snapchat needs advertisers to support its hefty valuation. But, Facebook and Google are tough competitors. So, to lure in advertisers, Snapchat has improved the way advertising platform works, TechCrunch reports. The social media company has come up with new Snap Publisher tool, self-serve Ad Manager, and Snapchat Certified Partners program.


With Snap Publisher, advertisers won’t need to use expensive software to create campaigns in vertical video format. As of July, Snapchat will provide a publishing tool that turns horizontal videos into vertical ones, offers templates, adds motion to pictures, and does other useful things.


The Ad Manager is a self-service system that allows advertisers to purchase, manage, and optimize their ads, as well as see analytics. Advertisers will now be able to pay for ads with credit cards instead of lines of credit, and there will be no minimums. With Mobile Dashboards, it will become possible to track and manage campaigns on the go.


The company is also launching Snapchat Certified Partners program. They will select top tech partners and give them tools to optimize ads. These partners will also be favored when clients are referred.


In the first quarter of this year, Snapchat had a huge loss of $2.2 billion on a rather small revenue of $150 million. Snapchat needs to get its business going as its stock has fallen to $18 from a recent high of nearly $30. It seems many investors aren’t happy.


The company’s market capitalization is over $20 billion, making many analysts and investors question such high value.


To win business, Snapchat is trying hard, but can they make it and justify this valuation? Facebook is already entering Snap’s turf with the “Stories” format. As a result, Snapchat’s user growth has slowed.



Snap’s Spectacles Look to Be Getting an Upgrade to AR

The popularity of Snapchat has continued to snowball over the past few years, with the introduction of Spectacles just seven months ago. That allowed for easy recording of anything that interests an individual user. When it comes to the second generation of this technology, the expectation is that the concept of augmented reality (AR) will be one of the most integral aspects involved.


The company itself has been extremely quiet about the innovation, which was only discovered after a website researching patents came across one from Snap that was filed in November 2015. That patent focused on the concept of being able to detect where a user is and then broadcast digital material with the dual-glass setup.


The idea of broadening the scope of Spectacles has been evident from some of Snap’s public moves, which have included the purchase of a drone-based company. Yet the aforementioned patent also indicates that other components that also deal with AR are in the pipeline. These include both a visor and a helmet that work in conjunction with the technology, with other reports indicating that the inclusion of a camera that shoots from a 360-degree perspective is also on the horizon.


The merging of Spectacles and AR for Snap isn’t surprising, with the first example of that taking place just a few months ago. That was when World Lenses was released, which

involved providing app users the ability to walk around three-dimensional items for a short period of time, usually just a few seconds.


Given the secrecy surrounding this project, the price for this item remains in question. However, given the upgrades involved, it’s expected to be higher than the $130 that Spectacles buyers paid for their product. The company has sold close to 100,000 of those devices, with nearly 35,000 of them being purchased in time for last year’s holiday season. While Snap itself is still losing money, the company is betting on the bottom line getting better.

Snap Looks to Upgrade Spectacles

Snap is ramping up its agenda for Spectacles, following an increase in European sales recently. The company, creator of the popular app Snapchat, is already looking to upgrade on its video glasses. This upgrade might be a rather sci-fi addition, with Snap looking to change the tech world entirely.

Spectacles, hitting the market last year, are not exactly cheap at $129.99. These glasses essentially allow their wearers to never be without Snapchat, giving them the ability to record pictures and videos with the glasses and posted them to Snapchat. According to TechCrunch, the next step for Spectacles is a well-kept secret at Snap. Less than 2000 employees at the tech company are aware of the specifications of the technology. The most Snap has shared with the public is a promise of a big difference from the first generation of the glasses.

Despite this lack of knowledge, much of the tech community is theorizing the presence of augmented reality in the next Spectacles. Mashable recently unearthed a patent application for AR glasses filed by Snap. This application from November 2015 lays out plans to project digital content into the sight of Spectacles wearers.

This wouldn’t be entirely new to Snap, as Snapchat already allows users to use augmented reality in their snaps. The feature, World Lenses, gives users the ability to place objects in the world around them, which can be viewed through the Snapchat app for a short time after placement.

Going even further, the patent application points to a broader future of augmented reality for Snap. Among others, the filing mentions a reality helmet and visor. Snap has also be allegedly looking into drones, particularly following the company’s purchase of Ctrl Me. There has also been talk of Snap’s release of a 360 degree camera.

While Snap’s Spectacles are certainly intriguing, it could be in need of a good update to boost sales. Snap started small with the glasses, slowly growing the market over time. With a unique feature like augmented reality, Snap could greatly increase the popularity of Spectacles, with many customers seeing value in a more distinct capability.


Amazing Gadgets to Hit the Market

This summer is going to see some amazing new tech gadgets hit the stores. One of them is a Wonderboom, which is a compact speaker that can be dropped in a swimming pool and function properly. It is produced by Ultimate Ears and costs $100, CNN Tech reports.


Another amazing and useful gadget is Prynt Pocket. It is a tiny printer that can be attached to an iPhone. It costs $150 and comes with an app allowing for image editing.


For those who love selfie sticks, there are selfie drones coming. A company named Zero Tech has produced a pocket-sized drone they named Dobby. It costs $350 and contains a 13 megapixel camera.


Fitbit’s newest device, the $150 Alta HR, is a hi-tech wristband that can track steps, calories, distances, and heart rates. It also alerts when calls or messages arrive.


If you don’t like to do the yard work, you can get a robot to do to it for you. Automower, a product of Husqvarna, is a low mower that can handle various obstructions and recognize walls. It can be controlled from a smartphone and can be pre-programmed, so it can stay in your yard rather than sneak away to mow your neighbor’s yard. At this point, its price is unknown.


Now, it is becoming easier to keep an eye on a house when outside. The $99 camera made by Blink Indoors has motion detection features that, if necessary, get activated and send alerts.


And if you don’t like to carry heavy luggage, but like to read, then consider getting Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. It retails for $120 a piece. It also comes with a great battery that lasts for several days should you get lost in the woods.