Tag Archive: Video


kindle_rabbit_video_player_1

Amazon Cloud Drive Photos, the photo-uploading utility that helps move photos from a mobile device into Amazon’s online storage, may have to change its name. Now, the tool doesn’t just support photo uploads, it supports videos, as well. Videos can be manually uploaded one by one, or users can opt to have videos auto-save from their devices directly into Amazon’s cloud.

This automatic upload option was already available for photos through an update out at the beginning of the year, but videos within Cloud Drive Photos had not yet been supported, whether manually or through the auto-upload feature within the application.

Amazon says that videos are restricted to 2 GB in size or 20 minutes in length, whether they’re being uploaded or downloaded from the Cloud Drive service – that’s slightly longer than YouTube’s default setting ahead of account verification. This is fine for the majority of users’ personal videos, of activities, pets, kids or events, for example, recorded on their mobile devices.

After the files are in Amazon’s cloud, the video can be played back to any device, including, of course, the Kindle Fire and other Android tablets. According to a post on Amazon’s Web Services blog about the technical underpinnings to the new feature, Amazon’s Elastic Transcoder service was used, which supports over 20 file formats and 40 video codecs. The team says its goal was to have videos transcoded within 15 minutes after uploading, but ended up achieving videos that are often ready within a minute or two. They also went ahead and processed all the videos stored in Amazon users’ Cloud Drive libraries ahead of launch.

Though the company offers a version of its Amazon Cloud Drive Photos app on iOS devices, too, only the Android version has received the video support at this time. That makes sense because not only is the Kindle and Android-based tablet, and therefore Amazon’s priority, the Android app was also the first to launch, back in November 2012.

The iOS version didn’t arrive until this May, and it serves as a viable alternative to Apple’s own iCloud sync and storage service, with reasonable pricing of 5 GB for free, then $10/year for 20 GB, $25/year for 50 GB and so on, all the way up to 1,000 GB for $500/year. Keep in mind that the storage goes up so high not because users need so much space for photos (and now videos, too), but because Amazon Cloud Drive is meant to serve as a competitor to Google Drive or Dropbox, with support for a variety of file types, including office documents and music, which can also be streamed back through Amazon Cloud Player.

In other words, this isn’t the first time users could upload videos to Amazon’s cloud. This is just making it possible to do so within the Cloud Drive Photos application.

The updated Cloud Drive app is available now on Google Play and Amazon’s Appstore.

canary

There are some 90 million homes in the U.S. without any security system whatsoever. Many of them are renters who don’t want to invest heavily in a place they don’t own, among hundreds of thousands of home owners who are simply priced out. There has never been a convenient, all-in-one system that could offer home security at an affordable rate, much less one you could pick up at the local Best Buy.

But that all changes with Canary, the latest crowd-funding sensation to hit Indiegogo. We caught up with NYC-based founder Adam Sager to discuss the project.

Canary is a little console, slightly smaller than the size of a paper towel roll, that’s packed with a host of sensors, a mic, and an HD camera.

For $200 down, this little guy will connect to the Wifi, sync with your phone, and constantly watch your home. I say watch, and not monitor, because Canary can only see as far as its sensors will allow, whereas most home security systems are wired in to monitor every crack and crevice of a home. Canary can only hear as far as the mic allows, or the camera sees, or the sensors can sense.

However, Sager believes that when you place the Canary in the central part of your home, near the front door perhaps or watching over the living room, that a real threat, like a burglar, will likely set off the Canary no matter where it enters from.

Plus, if you have a larger space or want added security, you can always link more than one Canary (up to four, Sager tells me).

Canary’s sensors include night vision, motion detection, temperature, air quality and humidity, along with a live feed to the HD camera at any given time. The phone will instantly alert the user whenever the home experiences a random change, like a temperature fluctuation or sudden movement.

But Canary is also smart enough to learn your home, sensing the difference between a burglary and a pet. It even understands when regularly scheduled events occur, like the arrival of a nanny or a dog walker at the same time each day, so that you don’t have a panic attack each time Rover needs to take a wizz.

Canary’s distribution model is different from any other home security system in that you will eventually be able to go pick one up at a local electronics store on the cheap. This has never really been available before, and the potential market is huge with 90 million homes completely unprotected and priced out of the alternatives.

Sager admits that margins on the hardware itself won’t be that high, but the plan is to offer value-added services like monitoring (delivered by a TBD third-party) for $10/month.

Canary has been on Indiegogo for four days, and has blown far beyond its $100k goal to be at $550k at the time of writing. It only took a few hours to reach $100k, according to Sager.

If you’d like to back the project, head on over to the Canary website or check out the Indiegogo campaign.

Facebook is about to turn your social life into an online newspaper. That’s the takeaway from a new slate of changes the company unveiled yesterday, ahead of its annual f8 developer conference in San Francisco. From now on, if you log in to Facebook after a lengthy hiatus, your news feed – much like the front page of a daily paper – will consist of a list of “top stories,” photos and updates that were posted while you were away, with each high-priority item tagged with a blue earmark. More frequent users, on the other hand, will find a list of most recent stories presented in chronological order, along with larger photos embedded directly within their news feed.

The company has also introduced a new “ticker” feature that provides users with real-time updates on their friends’ activity, displayed along the right-hand side of the home page. Here, you’ll find the exact same updates you’d see on a real-time news feed, with the crucial difference being that you’ll be able to interact with each development without missing a beat. If you see that a friend comments on a cat video, for example, you’ll be able to click that item in the ticker and add your two cents, without having to navigate away from the home screen. Facebook will likely provide more details on these new features at its f8 tomorrow, but you can find more information in the demo video, after the break.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6JrZdF4IPA

Including 4oD

Xbox Live is set to get a major televisual revamp before Christmas with all the major programming players in the UK due to launch Xbox based entertainment services.

Everything from 4oD and the BBC to Lovefilm and even Blinkbox and Channel 5 will be arriving on Xbox Live. This brings a total of more than 40 entertainment providers now involved globally with Xbox.

Sky already have a significant and highly successful presence on Xbox but expect the new 4oD and BBC offerings to offer some potential competition.

Channel 4 will launch a 4oD app for Xbox Live that will operate largely like its desktop client, allowing you to catchup on tv shows as well as watch older content.

The LoveFilm app should behave largely like that of the PlayStation 3 s, allowing members to stream on demand video to their console.

Microsoft went a bit entertainment partner mad, so much so that there are just too many to list here. If you fancy seeing a full list of Xbox Live entertainment providers then head over to the Xbox website.

That Siri gal is certainly making the rounds these days. When she’s not answering your questions on a 4S, she’s showing up on iPads and elder iPhones. Not one to play favorites, Siri’s now lending her considerable talents to an iPod touch. Two enterprising young hackers, euwars and rud0lf77, are the ones who put Siri on the iPod, and you can see the results of their labor in the video after the break. Of course, Apple’s servers still aren’t as friendly as the virtual voice assistant, so Siri’s latest cameo remains a silent one – but some Siri’s better than none, right?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cNOc9Xzb3k

younity

I went on a vacation to Iceland earlier this year, and took a ton of photos – it’s a beautiful country, and the light there is really unique. But to date, I haven’t showed them off to anyone. That’s because my Iceland photos are on my home computer’s hard drive, and I’ve been too busy (or lazy) to upload them all to the web. So when friends and family ask, “How was Iceland?” my response is, “Amazing. Someday I’ll get around to uploading those damn pictures.”

But a new app called Younity could make situations like that a thing of the past. Younity, which is in the current class of Los Angeles-based startup accelerator MuckerLab, purportedly creates a “personal cloud” for the files shared on all of your various devices to let you access them anytime, anywhere.

I met Younity co-founder Erik Caso while we were in L.A. visiting MuckerLab earlier this month, and his pitch was quite interesting – from the looks of it, I’d be able to access those Iceland photos that are on my home computer from my phone in a snap (that is, if I had an iPhone.) Essentially, it makes the experience of the cloud come to you, rather than the other way around.

It’s still the early days for the Younity app, but it looks promising, and it’ll be exciting to see how it develops in the months ahead. Check out our brief interview with Caso and introduction to Younity in the video above.

Lightspeed bipul

On this week’s Ask a VC show, Lightspeed Ventures’ Partner Bipul Sinha joined us in the studio to field reader questions and talk about enterprise investing.

Sinha, who has led investments in Nutanix and PernixData among others, talked about how the enterprise sales model has changed over time. Sinha has an interesting view on this topic, considering he advises startups now on how to structure their sales operations and has an insider experience on how incumbent sales worked while at Oracle.

Sinha also discussed what the most interesting niche is within the software defined datacenter space. Tune in above for more!

It’s time, ladies and gentlemen, the first full year of Angry Birds having a whole separate game dedicated to seasons is done, and your question has been answered: yes, Rovio will make a new Halloween expansion each year, not just the first! For those of you out there not having followed Angry Birds since the beginning, there was originally an Angry Birds standalone game and an Angry Birds Halloween standalone game. Once the Halloween game became nearly as popular as the original, Rovio got wise and continued the holiday theme, eventually combining them all into one single collection called Angry Birds Seasons – that tradition continues here with the expansion that started the whole thing: Halloween.

What you’ll be able to see here is several of the speedy tiny blue birds dressed up in classic Halloween costumes heading for a hill that sounds like its full of monsters. They seem all freaked out at first, then laugh with one another because they know they can handle the danger, no big deal. Once they approach the hill, they find a bucket full of candy. This bucket also seems to contain a small creature which we do not get to see in the flesh.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjFmLROLrXU

What we must assume here is that the monsters the three blue birds imagine will be boss-like bad guys at the end of every set of Halloween levels, for one. For two, the thing in the bucket, whatever it is, seems like it’ll be a new character fighting on the good guys’ side. Teeny tiny little bird of some sort, what will your powers be? Will you bring candy to me? We shall see!

BONUS: the folks at AngryBirdsNest have suggested that since this expansion is likely to be released around Halloween, the same time as rumors place the classic Tim Burton stop-animation musical masterpiece The Nightmare Before Christmas in theaters again in 3D, that this Angry Birds expansion might be a collaboration with the folks at Disney, the current distributors of the film. Rovio did a similar thing with the movie RIO when it was released, creating an entire spin-off game for the film.

What do you think? Is that candy-cane in the bucket of Halloween candy enough of a clue for you? Jack Skellington, will you be our new Angry hero?!

YouTube

Over the last several years, we’ve seen a new group of digital media companies emerge in Los Angeles, driven by the growth of YouTube as a platform for distribution of video content. What started out as a cottage industry built around YouTube is becoming a pretty massive business, with L.A. at the center of it all.

Companies like Machinima, Maker Studios, and Fullscreen were founded with the idea of helping creators to expand their audiences by improving their production value, collaborating with other YouTubers, and adopting a series of best practices.

That said, not all YouTube networks are created equal: While some focus on providing creators with tools for high-quality production, others have developed technical tools to help them succeed. Some are focused on specific verticals, like gaming or food, while others are built around aggregating channels with massive audiences and growing them through collaborations.

TechCrunch TV spent several days in L.A. meeting with a number of digital media companies, including Machinima, Fullscreen, Tastemade, ZEFR, Big Frame, Maker Studios, and Funny or Die. During those visits we met with executives and creators, toured production facilities, and got to know the people building this whole new ecosystem of video content. We also visited YouTube Space L.A., a huge facility filled with equipment for shooting, editing, and other post-production activities that is free and open to YouTube creators.

On Mondays and Wednesdays over the next four weeks, we’ll be rolling out a series of videos showing off all the best from our meetings at those companies, giving you a better feel for what each has to offer and what creators can expect when they sign up for a multichannel network.

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