New York, Mar 20 (AP/UNB) — Google on Tuesday unveiled a video-game streaming platform called Stadia, positioning itself to take on the traditional video-game business.
The platform will store a game-playing session in the cloud and lets players jump across devices operating on Google's Chrome browser and Chrome OS, such as Pixel phones and Chromebooks.
Google didn't say how much its new service will cost, whether it will offer subscriptions or other options, or what games will be available at launch —all key elements to the success of a new video-game platform. It said only that Stadia will be available in late 2019.
Google made the announcement at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Some industry watchers were expecting a streaming console, but Google's platform centers squarely on the company's cloud infrastructure.
"The new generation of gaming is not a box," said Google Vice President Phil Harrison. "The data center is your platform."
Much like movies and music, the traditional video-game industry has been shifting from physical hardware and games to digital downloads and streaming. Video-game streaming typically requires a strong connection and more computing power than simply streaming video, since there is real-time interaction between player and game. Google says it is leveraging its data centers to power the system.
Alphabet Inc.'s Google said playing video games will be as simple as pressing a "Play Now" button, with nothing to download or install. An optional dedicated Stadia controller will be available. The WiFi-enabled controller has a button that lets players launch a microphone and use Google Assistant to ask questions about the games being played. Another button lets users share gameplay directly to Google's video streaming service, YouTube.
Harrison said he expects all gaming will eventually take place outside consoles, in cloud-powered streaming platforms similar to what Google announced. But not right away.
"It won't replace traditional games devices overnight," he said in an interview after the announcement. "And we wouldn't be here if not for the existing traditional platforms."
CFRA Research analyst Scott Kessler said Google's approach that ties YouTube sharing and video-game playing is unique.
"It is not necessarily at this point the easiest thing for people to livestream their games and now you can do it with the push of a button," he said. "What they've done with Stadia is to connect and unify both the gaming platform and the streaming platform which obviously is new."
The company said Stadia will be available in late 2019 in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and parts of Europe. Google showed demos of "Assassin's Creed Odyssey" and "Doom Eternal." More information about games and pricing is due this summer.
The U.S. video game industry raked in revenue of $43.4 billion in 2018, up 18 percent from 2017, according to research firm NPD Group.
BTIG Managing Director Brandon Ross said Stadia will be a positive for game publishers "assuming that it works and works at scale, which is a big assumption."
That's because the platform could bring in players not willing to spend the money upfront for a gaming PC or a console.
"What they're presenting is a feasible way to play videogames in the cloud, and utilizing the cloud so you can play anytime, anyplace and anywhere," he said. "There's no friction, including the friction of upfront hardware costs."
Ross added that Google's platform could set up a distribution battle between Microsoft, which owns the Xbox, Sony, which owns the PlayStation, Google and perhaps Amazon, which reportedly is working on its own video-game service, as they race to lock down distribution of the most in-demand games.
To that end, Google launched Stadia Games and Entertainment which will develop Stadia-exclusive games.
"The differentiator for any of the distributors on a console or in the cloud is going to be available content," he said.
Harrison said Google will rely on outside publishers and game developers to provide many of the games available on the platform. But having its own inside studio will also allow the company to fully test and make use of new features.
"We can be the advance party, so to speak, and we can be testing out the latest technology," he said. "Once we've proven it we can help bring that up to speed on the platform even more quickly with our third-party partners."
Harrison acknowledged Google faces stiff competition from longtime rivals Microsoft, Sony and others. Google has been working on Stadia for more than four years, he said, and has been working with game developers through Android and Play Store for longer.
The others have more than a decade of experience. But Google believes it brings something new.
"We are not a historical console or PC platform," he said. "We are built specifically for this new generation."
Dhaka, Mar 19 (UNB) - The first day of the three-day BASIS SoftExpo 2019 that began at International Convention City Bashundhara on Tuesday marked the launch of Grameenphone IoT, the next step towards digitisation in Bangladesh, at BICC.
The launch was attended by State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak, BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir, Deputy CEO and CMO of Grameenphone Yasir Azman and Chief Business Officer Mahmud Hossain.
The launch of Grameenphone IoT marks Grameenphone’s commitment towards the future of Digital Bangladesh, said a press release.
During this initiation, Grameenphone introduced a range of IoT products and services catering to B2C, B2B and B2G requirements.
Grameenphone launched a “Smart Home” solution with Datasoft Bangladesh Limited, which will allow customers to control home appliances and ensure home safety. The “Smart Home Starter Kit” will start at Tk. 7,999 and comprises of motion, smoke, gas and water leakage sensors.
Grameenphone also launched the “SEEMO Smart Security” solution with Bangla-Trac Communications Limited through which customers can monitor, listen in on and talk back through the smart indoor cameras or a smart doorbell, from their smartphone. The service also includes 7 days of recording storage on the cloud.
The smart camera will cost Tk 2,999, while the smart doorbell Tk 7,999 in addition to a 4G router at Tk 4,999.
Additionally, Grameenphone announced a number of business products such as “Smart Attendance” for schools and offices, Industrial IoT solutions for factories and Smart Metering solutions for electricity, water and gas utilities.
As a part of the launching ceremony, Grameenphone also announced a number of IoT enablement services such as a Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) communications network, IoT connectivity and data management platforms, and a developer program called “Start IoT”. This program, which will be offered in partnership with Telenor Research, has been designed to encourage students and entrepreneurs to come up with innovative IoT solutions and help them turn their ideas into reality.
Dhaka, Mar 18 (UNB)- Robi has recently launched Maya’s digital health service for its subscribers.
Maya service for Robi subscribers is essentially a digital healthcare and well-being assistant that intelligently understands the users’ health related concerns/ question and makes it easy to connect to real doctors, therapists & lifestyle advisors.
Maya service can be accessed using SMS, WAP (http://m.maya.com.bd/mayavas) and mobile app. In order to access the platform using SMS, one needs to type Start<space>Maya and send to 23333 to get the service link. The app users may download the Maya app from Google’s Play Store.
Any Robi user can subscribe to this service and avail these benefits. Registered users can avail all the available features like daily SMS tips, access to WAP and APP only by paying daily subscription fee of two taka (Excluding Supplementary Duty, VAT and Surcharge).
The on-demand service feature option is available only in Maya app (not in WAP). Any Robi users can download Maya app to avail the on demand features. Users can enjoy the on-demand service by paying 39 taka (Excluding Supplementary Duty, VAT and Surcharge) with seven days validity.
Under the on-demand service, users will be able to ask health related questions from 8 AM to 8 PM. They will get first two question’s response within 90 minutes. In case more questions are asked then those will be responded to within 24 hours.
New York, Mar 18 (AP/UNB) — Facebook's effort to establish a service that provides its users with local news and information is being hindered by the lack of outlets where the company's technicians can find original reporting.
The service, launched last year, is currently available in some 400 cities in the United States. But the social media giant said it has found that 40 percent of Americans live in places where there weren't enough local news stories to support it.
Facebook announced Monday it would share its research with academics at Duke, Harvard, Minnesota and North Carolina who are studying the extent of news deserts created by newspaper closures and staff downsizing.
Some 1,800 newspapers have closed in the United States over the last 15 years, according to the University of North Carolina. Newsroom employment has declined by 45 percent as the industry struggles with a broken business model partly caused by the success of companies on the Internet, including Facebook.
The Facebook service, called "Today In ," collects news stories from various local outlets, along with government and community groups. The company deems a community unsuitable for "Today In" if it cannot find a single day in a month with at least five news items available to share.
There's not a wide geographical disparity. For example, the percentage of news deserts is higher in the Northeast and Midwest, at 43 percent, Facebook said. In the South and West, the figure is 38 percent.
"It affirms the fact that we have a real lack of original local reporting," said Penelope Muse Abernathy, a University of North Carolina professor who studies the topic. She said she hopes the data helps pinpoint areas where the need is greatest, eventually leading to some ideas for solutions.
Facebook doesn't necessarily have the answers. "Everyone can learn from working together," said Ann Kornblut, director of news initiatives at the company.
The company plans to award some 100 grants, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, to people with ideas for making more news available, said Jimmy O'Keefe, product marketing manager for "Today In."
That comes on top of $300 million in grants Facebook announced in January to help programs and partnerships designed to boost local news.
The company doesn't plan to launch newsgathering efforts of its own, Kornblut said.
"Our history has been — and we will probably stick to it — to let journalists do what they do well and let us support them and let them do their work," she said.
Washington, Mar 17 (AP/UNB) — A huge study suggests the Apple Watch can detect a worrisome irregular heartbeat at least sometimes — but experts say more work is needed to tell if using wearable technology to screen for heart problems really helps.
More than 419,000 Apple Watch users signed up for the unusual study, making it the largest ever to explore screening seemingly healthy people for atrial fibrillation, a condition that if untreated eventually can trigger strokes.
Stanford University researchers reported Saturday that the watch didn't panic flocks of people, warning just half a percent of participants — about 2,100 — that they might have a problem.
But even among those flagged, "it's not perfect," cautioned Dr. Richard Kovacs of the American College of Cardiology, who wasn't involved with the study.
People who received an alert were supposed to consult a study doctor via telemedicine and then wear an EKG patch measuring cardiac activity for the next week to determine the watch's accuracy. Some skipped the virtual check-up to consult their own doctors; overall, about 57 percent sought medical attention.
Among those who got EKG monitoring through the study, a third had atrial fibrillation, according to preliminary results being presented at an American College of Cardiology conference in New Orleans.
A-fib tends to come and go, and a week of monitoring might have missed some cases, said Stanford lead researcher Dr. Mintu Turakhia. But if the watch detected another irregular heartbeat while someone was wearing the EKG patch, 84 percent of the time it really was a-fib, he said.
"This study we believe provides very encouraging evidence that a device, the Apple Watch, can be used to detect a-fib and to point out to people when additional monitoring or testing may be needed," said Dr. Lloyd Minor, Stanford's dean of medicine.
Other cardiac experts said the study, which was funded by Apple, suggests screening with wearable technology might be technically feasible eventually, but needs lots more research.
"I would not advise this to the overall general population," said Dr. Valentin Fuster, director of Mount Sinai Heart in New York and a former American Heart Association president, who wasn't involved with the study. Instead, he'd like to see it tested in seniors with risk factors like high blood pressure.
What is atrial fibrillation?
A-fib occurs when the heart's top chambers, called the atria, get out of sync with the bottom chambers' pumping action. Sometimes patients feel a flutter or a racing heart but many times they're not aware of an episode.
Sometimes the heart gets back into rhythm on its own. Other patients get an electric shock to get back into rhythm, or are prescribed blood thinners to counter the stroke-causing blood clots that untreated a-fib can spur. A-fib causes 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations a year in the U.S.
How do doctors check for it?
A-fib is most common in older adults, and other risks include high blood pressure or a family history of arrhythmias. But routine screening isn't recommended for people without symptoms. Studies haven't yet proved that early detection from screening would prevent enough strokes to outweigh risks from unnecessary testing or overtreatment.
How does the apple watch check for it?
A mobile app uses the optical sensor on certain versions of the watch to analyze pulse rate data. If it detects enough variation from beat to beat over a 48-hour period, the user receives a warning of an irregular heart rhythm.
The latest version of the Apple Watch also allows wearers to push a button to take an EKG and share the reading with doctors. Saturday's study didn't include watches with that capability.
Does the new study show mass screening is a good idea?
No. The study was designed to tell how the watch compared to a week of standard EKG monitoring — not if the wearer's health improved because the screening uncovered the arrhythmia. To prove if detecting a-fib early lowers risk of stroke would require years of study.
And since the study didn't have a comparison group getting routine EKGs, there's no way to know if the watch missed heartbeat problems, giving a false sense of security, Kovacs said.
The puzzling low numbers of alarms might be because most participants were young or middle-aged, not the seniors who are most at risk for a-fib, he said.