Google Teams up with Telstra to Test Internet Balloon Project in Australia

Google announced that it and Australian telecommunications company Telstra will be coordinating a test flight of 20 balloons above western Queensland in December. The trial is part of Google X’s Project Loon, intended to provide internet to remote parts of the world using helium balloons that can beam 4G-like signals to homes and phones below. Telstra will provide base stations to send signals to the nearest balloon, which relays signals to neighboring balloons out of range of the base station. Google’s ultimate goal is to bring internet to the estimated two-thirds of the world’s population who are currently without. Such a network could also eventually be deployed in areas damaged by natural disasters, and could allow developing countries to avoid laying expensive underground fiber cabling. Google X, the lab also working on Google Glass and driverless cars, previously tested the network above Christchurch, New Zealand. (ZD Net)(Engadget)

 

Experimental Virtual Reality App Offers Investors 3D Portfolio View

A new, experimental application created by Fidelity Investments’ Fidelity Labs uses 3D visualization in a video-game-like environment, which allows users to see their investment portfolio without numbers or charts. In “StockCity,” each skyscraper represents a stock, and the architecture changes with Wall Street. Building height is determined by the prices of stocks, and width is based on the number of shares. Buildings are placed in neighborhoods corresponding to the industry sector (technology, consumer stocks, and so on) so the user can see how their portfolio is diversified. The sky changes from day to night based on the market’s trading hours and sunny to rainy based on current overall market conditions. The “city” can be viewed on a desktop computer or in 3D using an Oculus Rift headset, which hasn’t been released on the mass market yet. The developers are considering other visualization options, such as flocks of birds over buildings to indicate mentions on Twitter. The software is being developed in a bid to attract younger consumers, a play that’s been unsuccessful for more than a decade, according to analyst Brian Blau. To its credit, Fidelity was among the first financial services companies to have a presence on the Internet and to have an iPhone application. It also created apps for Google Glass and the Pebble smartwatch. StockCity is still in development with the possibility of other investments such as mutual funds, exchange traded funds, and securities. StockCity is available at www.fidelitylabs.com, and the 3D version will be released along with the Oculus Rift headset. (The Associated Press)(San Francisco Chronicle)(Stock City)

Video Game Seeks to Preserve Native Alaskan Culture

Technology has been blamed for eroding tradition and culture, but a new video game seeks to preserve some of the stories and language of the Iñupiat people of Alaska. The Iñupiat use stories to define and preserve their identity, but their oral tradition is at risk since advances in technology have created new ways for stories to be told. To help share its culture with the younger generation, the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), a nonprofit group that serves the Iñupiat and other Alaska Natives, teamed up with E-Line Media, a publisher of educational video games, to form Upper One Games, the first indigenous-owned video game company in the US. The development team worked with Iñupiat elders, storytellers, and artists of all ages to produce Never Alone, which is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Narration for the game features voiceover from Iñupiat elders, and players take on the roles of a girl named Nuna and her pet arctic fox in a journey based on the story of Kunuuksaayuka, in which a child must identify the source of a blizzard to save the community. The developers relied heavily on collaboration with the community to create the game so that it would reflect the culture. James (Mumiġan) Nageak, who provided translation and voiceover for the game, stated: “I believe that through this game, somebody might get interested in the language. It could give them a spark of the possibilities in the Iñupiat language—in any language.” (The New Yorker)(Never Alone)

Nokia Surprises with New Tablet Launch

Nokia, which sold its handset division to Microsoft in April 2014, is introducing a new Android-based tablet. The 7.9-inch N1 Tablet, which is planned to retail at $249, will initially be sold in China in early 2015 and will then be available in other markets. It has an aluminum body and is powered with an Intel processor running Android Lollipop. The device will be made by Foxconn, which will also handle distribution and sales for Nokia. The announcement was made during the Slush technology conference in Helsinki on 18 November 2014. Some market watchers were surprised at the announcement as Nokia, under the terms of its handset division sale, was unable to license its brand for mobile device sales for 30 months and was prohibited from using the Nokia brand on its own mobile devices until the end of 2015. (Associated Press @ The Charlotte Observer)(The Sydney Morning Herald)

Samsung Display Creates Flexible, Foldable Smartphone Display

Samsung Display is launching a flexible display for smartphones capable of folding in half. The company expects to produce 30,000 to 40,000 flexible displays each month by the end of 2015, according to Lee Chang-hoon, vice president of Samsung Display’s business strategic team. Samsung Display is also expanding production of its A3 display line based on the popularity of the Galaxy Note Edge, which uses the curved wrap-around display. The company announced that it will also be lowering its AMOLED display production costs, said Chang-hoon. This will enable Samsung to compete with LCD products and attract more customers. (ZDNet)(Digitimes)

Court Says Google May Freely Edit Search Results

A new San Francisco court ruling will allow Google to display its search results as it wishes, deeming the content protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Judge Ernest Goldsmith dismissed a lawsuit that claimed Google biased its search results to exclude the CoastNews website. CoastNews said its pages were consistently at the top of search rankings on competitor sites Bing and Yahoo Search. Goldsmith said Google is exercising free speech and is protected under the Constitution. This ruling contrasts with European regulators, who have investigated Google for being anti-competitive and ranking its own services above those of competitors including Microsoft and Yelp. (The Guardian)(Gizmodo)(Gigaom)

US Regulator Announces AT&T Probe

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is investigating AT&T after the telecommunications giant announced that plans for its high-speed fiber network are on hold until net neutrality rules are finalized. The FCC wants more information about AT&T’s plans for its fiber network, which was originally announced in April 2014. AT&T was planning to introduce the service in 21 major US metropolitan areas, covering some 100 cities. The company says it can’t make such a huge investment without knowing how the services will be governed, particularly if net neutrality is adopted. The FCC wants to know specifically how AT&T reached the conclusion that the company would lose money by expanding its fiber network. AT&T made the decision in response to US President Barak Obama’s public support of net neutrality, in which he calls for US broadband services to be regulated like other utilities. (Techspot)(Fierce Telecom)

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