Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rounds updates video chat app, lets users browse the web together (video)

ROUNDS ADDS CO-BROWSING TO ITS MOBILE HANGOUT NETWORK; FIRST TO LET FRIENDS SURF THE WEB TOGETHER INSIDE MOBILE VIDEO CHATS

For the First Time, Users Can Navigate the Same Webpage at the Same Time To Shop, Watch TV, Play Games or Take Photos Together Whilst Video Chatting

TEL AVIV (June 18, 2013) – Rounds (www.rounds.com) launched a new update to its popular Rounds Video Chat Hangout mobile app for iOS and Android today, becoming the first hangout network to let friends securely surf the web together during live video conversations.

The result of a partnership with Dutch startup, Channel.me, Rounds' new co-browsing feature synchronizes the touchscreen activity between users while web surfing during mobile video chatting. Rounds users can now navigate the same webpage at the same time with their friends, with both of them able to control the experience – including clicking links and typing in new URLs. Users see each other's live video streams in thumbnail form during co-browsing, allowing their live reactions to add a feeling of togetherness.

"Adding co-browsing to Rounds fits with our vision for giving friends an online hangout experiences as true as real life," said Rounds CEO and co-founder Dany Fishel. "When teens hang out in the real world, they do more than just talk – they do activities like watching TV, shopping, and taking or sharing photos together. Rounds is bringing all these activities inside video communication for the first time."

The feature is an "open URL" experience, meaning users are not restricted to which sites they visit when co-browsing during video conversations. The co-browsing experience is now compatible with Google Search, Wikipedia, Preen.Me, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Amazon, eBay, ESPN, The Huffington Post, wanelo, Imgur and TheFancy.

Security-wise, the experience resembles two friends surfing the web together on one computer in the same location. Usernames and email addresses are visible during the login process, but passwords are not. Rounds requires pre-existing Facebook friendship for users to launch video chats with each other, giving the new co-browsing feature a built-in layer of protection. For the first time, friends can browse and shop the web together from their mobile devices anywhere.

"With the growth of sales via mobile devices it becomes more important for mobile apps to create innovative services that support m-commerce and the unique behavior patterns of a mobile consumer," says Roger Entner, Founder and Lead Analyst at Recon Analytics.

Building on its signature characteristic of providing online entertainment and fun activities to teens during live video communication, co-browsing joins Rounds' other interactive features, including playing HTML5 games during video chats, watching YouTube videos together, adding Instagram-like effects and scribbling over each other's live video streams, uploading photos for joint viewing across devices, and changing view modes.

Channel.me integrated their co-browser using Rounds easy to use API, which allows developers to create synchronized HTML5 activities between users in the real-time experience of a live, mobile video chat environment.

Rounds Video Chat Hangout is available as a free download in both the iTunes App Store and Google Play, or directly via www.rounds.com. New features are expected to be added regularly throughout summer 2013.

Thursday, June 20, 2013 by Sabrez Alam · 0

Dragon Mobile Assistant 4 for Android adds driving mode, voice notifications

Dragon Mobile Assistant Expands with Intelligent Driver Mode

Automatically Switches to Driver Mode in a Moving Car; Adds Customizable Wake-Up Word and Voice Notifications for Facebook, Texts, Calls and Appointments

Burlington, Mass. – June 18, 2013 – Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) today announced that its Dragon Mobile Assistant app for Android is updated with new proactive assistant features, including an intelligent hands-free Driver Mode, voice notifications and the ability to customize Dragon's wake-up word.

Dragon already keeps people organized, productive and connected with some of the most unique personal assistant capabilities available, including Friend Finder location sharing, proactive conference call dialing and more. And now, Dragon knows when users are in a moving vehicle and can automatically switch over to hands-free, eyes-free Driver Mode, keeping people connected in a safer, smarter way. Driver Mode leverages Dragon's powerful voice recognition and expressive text to speech to give people full command and control over Dragon without having to take their hands off the wheel to touch the device or take their eyes off the road to look at the screen.

Dragon has new features that also make it an even more personal experience, including Voice Notifications that can read aloud Facebook status updates, messages, incoming calls, and upcoming appointments. And now you can choose how you wake up your Dragon with a customizable wake-up word. So whether it's "Hi Dragon", "Hey Dude," or "Hello Dolly," Dragon is ready to respond and deliver. And last but certainly not least, Dragon now also supports voice-enabled email.

"Dragon aspires to be an incredibly reliable and intuitive mobile personal assistant, not only responding to commands and providing relevant content, but also anticipating people's needs in the moment-just like a true personal assistant," said Michael Thompson, executive vice president and general manager, Nuance Mobile. "Dragon's truly conversational nature and expansive directed search capabilities give people an assistant with purpose, content and information from the content providers they trust the most-leveraging a broad ecosystem without boundaries."

Availability

Dragon leverages Nuance's renowned voice, language understanding, ambient intelligence and expressive text-to-speech to deliver a smarter personal assistant that listens, interprets and delivers a more intuitive and connected experience. Dragon is available for free in English on Google Play in the US, supporting Android 2.3 and above.

by Sabrez Alam · 0

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Swiss scientists create catbot: a robot that runs like a cat (video)

Lausanne, June 14, 2013.

A robot that runs like a cat

Thanks to its legs, whose design faithfully reproduces feline morphology, EPFL's four-legged "cheetah-cub robot" has the same advantages as its model: it is small, light and fast. Still in its experimental stage, the robot will serve as a platform for research in locomotion and biomechanics.

Even though it doesn't have a head, you can still tell what kind of animal it is: the robot is definitely modeled upon a cat. Developed by EPFL's Biorobotics Laboratory (Biorob), the "cheetah-cub robot," a small-size quadruped prototype robot, is described in an article appearing today in the International Journal of Robotics Research. The purpose of the platform is to encourage research in biomechanics; its particularity is the design of its legs, which make it very fast and stable. Robots developed from this concept could eventually be used in search and rescue missions or for exploration.

This robot is the fastest in its category, namely in normalized speed for small quadruped robots under 30Kg. During tests, it demonstrated its ability to run nearly seven times its body length in one second. Although not as agile as a real cat, it still has excellent auto-stabilization characteristics when running at full speed or over a course that included disturbances such as small steps. In addition, the robot is extremely light, compact, and robust and can be easily assembled from materials that are inexpensive and readily available.

Faithful reproduction

The machine's strengths all reside in the design of its legs. The researchers developed a new model with this robot, one that is based on the meticulous observation and faithful reproduction of the feline leg. The number of segments – three on each leg – and their proportions are the same as they are on a cat. Springs are used to reproduce tendons, and actuators – small motors that convert energy into movement – are used to replace the muscles.

"This morphology gives the robot the mechanical properties from which cats benefit, that's to say a marked running ability and elasticity in the right spots, to ensure stability," explains Alexander Sprowitz, a Biorob scientist. "The robot is thus naturally more autonomous."

Sized for a search

According to Biorob director Auke Ijspeert, this invention is the logical follow-up of research the lab has done into locomotion that included a salamander robot and a lamprey robot. "It's still in the experimental stages, but the long-term goal of the cheetah-cub robot is to be able to develop fast, agile, ground-hugging machines for use in exploration, for example for search and rescue in natural disaster situations. Studying and using the principles of the animal kingdom to develop new solutions for use in robots is the essence of our research."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 by Sabrez Alam · 0

NASA picks eight astronaut trainees that may go to asteroids and Mars (video)

NASA Selects Next Generation of Space Explorers; Google+ Hangout Today

HOUSTON -- After an extensive year-and-a-half search, NASA has a new group of potential astronauts who will help the agency push the boundaries of exploration and travel to new destinations in the solar system, including an asteroid and Mars. Eight candidates have been selected to be NASA's newest astronaut trainees, hoping to be among those who are the first to launch from U.S. soil on commercial American spacecraft since the retirement of the space shuttle.

The 2013 astronaut candidate class comes from the second largest number of applications NASA has received -- more than 6,000. Half of the selectees are women, making this the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected for a class. The group will receive a wide array of technical training at space centers and remote locations around the globe to prepare for missions to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars.

"These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we're doing big, bold things here -- developing missions to go farther into space than ever before," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "They're excited about the science we're doing on the International Space Station and our plan to launch from U.S. soil to there on spacecraft built by American companies. And they're ready to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars."

NASA will discuss the selections at 3 p.m. CDT Monday, June 17, via a Google+ Hangout.

The astronaut candidates are:

Josh A. Cassada, Ph.D., 39, is originally from White Bear Lake, Minn. Cassada is a former naval aviator who holds an undergraduate degree from Albion College, and advanced degrees from the University of Rochester, N.Y. Cassada is a physicist by training and currently is serving as co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for Quantum Opus.

Victor J. Glover, 37, Lt. Commander, U.S. Navy, hails from Pomona, Calif., and Prosper, Texas. He is an F/A-18 pilot and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards, Calif. Glover holds degrees from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Air University and the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif. He currently is serving as a Navy Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Congress.

Tyler N. (Nick) Hague, 37, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Air Force, calls Hoxie, Kan., home. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., and the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards, Calif. Hague currently is supporting the Department of Defense as Deputy Chief of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.

Christina M. Hammock, 34, calls Jacksonville, N.C., home. Hammock holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. She currently is serving as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Station Chief in American Samoa.

Nicole Aunapu Mann, 35, Major, U.S. Marine Corps, originally is from Penngrove, Calif. She is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Stanford University and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Md. Mann is an F/A 18 pilot, currently serving as an Integrated Product Team Lead at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River.

Anne C. McClain, 34, Major, U.S. Army, lists her hometown as Spokane, Wash. She is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; the University of Bath and the University of Bristol, both in the United Kingdom. McClain is an OH-58 helicopter pilot, and a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River.

Jessica U. Meir, Ph.D., 35, is from Caribou, Maine. She is a graduate of Brown University, has an advanced degree from the International Space University, and earned her doctorate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Meir currently is an Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Andrew R. Morgan, M.D., 37, Major, U.S. Army, considers New Castle, Pa., home. Morgan is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and earned a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md. He has experience as an emergency physician and flight surgeon for the Army special operations community, and currently is completing a sports medicine fellowship.

The new astronaut candidates will begin training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in August.

"This year we have selected eight highly qualified individuals who have demonstrated impressive strengths academically, operationally and physically," said Janet Kavandi, director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson. "They have diverse backgrounds and skill sets that will contribute greatly to the existing astronaut corps. Based on their incredible experiences to date, I have every confidence that they will apply their combined expertise and talents to achieve great things for NASA and this country in the pursuit of human exploration."

During the Google+ Hangout, which will include recorded video introductions from the astronaut candidates and discuss the selection and training process, NASA's social media followers may submit questions on Twitter and Google+ in advance and during the event using the hashtag #askNASA. Before the hangout begins, NASA will open a thread on its Facebook page where questions may be posted. The Hangout can be viewed live on NASA's Google+ page or on NASA Television. To join the Hangout, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/126mOLK

Reporters may ask questions on the Hangout using a phone bridge managed at Johnson. To participate via phone bridge, journalists must call the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 by 2:45 p.m.

By design, NASA's calls for astronauts are staggered so the agency can maintain continuity of experience and leadership in the astronaut corps. Since the initial astronaut class of 1959, NASA has selected and trained 330 astronauts. Most recently in 2009, NASA selected nine candidates. The 2013 group is the agency's 21st astronaut class.

NASA is engaging in a parallel path for human spaceflight exploration with U.S. commercial companies providing access to low-Earth Orbit for cargo to the space station. NASA's Commercial Crew Program also is working with commercial space partners to develop capabilities to launch U.S. astronauts from American soil in the next few years.

At the same time, NASA is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket designed to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration, including a mission to study an asteroid and Mars.

For more information about the astronaut candidates, their photos and details on the astronaut selection process, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/2013astroclass

by Sabrez Alam · 0

Netflix signs up Dreamworks for multiple new original TV series, promises over 300 hours of programming

Netflix To Premiere DreamWorks Animation's Branded Slate Of New Original TV Series

Largest deal for original content in Netflix history will give members in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Europe exclusive access to new original television series based on the studio's beloved franchises and characters

Netflix Inc. and DreamWorks Animation (Nasdaq: DWA) today announced a multi-year deal making the world's largest Internet TV network the premiere home of new original series from the award-winning creators of global box-office hits including the Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon franchises.

This agreement, which marks the largest deal for original first-run content in Netflix history, is also the first time DreamWorks Animation's beloved characters will be introduced into the television market as a branded collection of shows.
The groundbreaking deal, which encompasses over 300 hours of new programming, is a cornerstone of a major initiative by DreamWorks Animation to greatly expand its television production and distribution worldwide. The new shows will be inspired by characters from DreamWorks Animation's hit franchises and upcoming feature films as well as the vast Classic Media library, which DreamWorks acquired in 2012 and includes some of the most popular animated characters in history.

With the first series expected to begin airing in 2014, Netflix will premiere these new DreamWorks Animation shows in all the territories in which it operates.

"DreamWorks Animation is a valued partner in our global efforts to provide families the most engaging stories delivered however, whenever and wherever they want," said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. "This deal represents a major expansion of what's already a phenomenal relationship, allowing us to bring beloved DreamWorks characters to the 40 countries where Netflix operates and setting the stage for us to innovate together as we expand into new markets."

"This is an unprecedented commitment to original content in the internet television space," said DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg. "Netflix is a visionary company that continues to redefine the way audiences watch television and it is a thrill to add to their growing momentum."

In February, Netflix and DreamWorks announced their first ever Netflix Original Series for kids based on the highly-anticipated film Turbo, premiering on July 17. Turbo F.A.S.T, an episodic animated series which picks up with the speedy snail where the feature film left off, will be available in all Netflix territories beginning in December.

Also coming exclusively to Netflix in the U.S. and Latin America next year will be new DreamWorks Animation feature films, beginning with the global hit The Croods, which grossed more than $575 million at the worldwide box office , followed by Turbo and the big screen adaption of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, which opens in theaters in March of 2014.
Always commercial free, the content in the kids section of Netflix is curated in conjunction with ratings and reviews from Common Sense Media, a leading non-profit organization that provides independent, trustworthy ratings, reviews and information to help parents make great media choices. In addition to character-based selections, the service displays rows of TV shows and movies organized by easy-to-understand genres such as superheroes, princesses, dinosaurs and girl power. The unique Netflix technology provides each member with a personalized experience based on preferences and favorites.

by Sabrez Alam · 0