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Jam City

bile game maker SGN renamed itself Jam City last week, seeking to inject more fun into its brand.

For a start-up that makes colorful matching and bubble-bursting games including Juice Jam and Panda Pop, SGN — short for Social Gaming Network — came off as a stodgy and dull, the Culver City company said.

“Put another way, we were a company with memorable products but a forgettable name,” Chris DeWolfe, the Myspace co-founder who runs  Jam City, said in a blog post. He and consultants considered 500 names over a year before deciding on Jam City.

The company says it has nearly 50 million monthly players and five titles among the 100 highest revenue-generating mobile games in the U.S. Sales, derived from purchases of extra features within the apps, are likely to climb as the company explores placing ads in games. Revenue is expected to top $400 million over the next year.

Jam City also has a developed a close relationship with 20th Century Fox. It has made games tied to the media properties “Book of Life” and “Family Guy,” with plans to work on a “Peanuts” title next, the company announced.

Foursquare opens sales office in Playa Vista

A Foursquare dashboard shows how an ad campaign is performing, including whether it's leading consumers to visit desired places.
A Foursquare dashboard shows how an ad campaign is performing, including whether it’s leading consumers to visit desired places. (Foursquare)

Local search company Foursquare is calling Los Angeles home for the first time as it tries to cut advertising and data deals with auto, consumer products and entertainment companies.

A sales and marketing team led by three new employees in Playa Vista will focus on teaching those industries about Foursquare’s ability to profile people’s physical movement and spot trends based on foot traffic, said Steven Rosenblatt, president of the New York City start-up.

The company has amassed a map of places, including restaurants, parks and shops, by allowing users to share their location with friends. It has recorded more than 10 billion digital check-ins at locations in about eight years.

The resulting data gets used not only in Yelp-like apps from Foursquare, but also thousands of other apps including Twitter, Uber and WeChat.

But Foursquare wants to help companies use much of the same data for advertising purposes or market research. The company says it can reach about 150 million devices on behalf of advertisers.

“We can target people based on historical profiles,” Rosenblatt said. “Do we see their phones in movie theaters often? Did we serve them an ad for a movie and did they go to a movie theater? We can prove we can drive awareness.”

The new offerings are selling well, but Foursquare faces competition from Facebook, Los Angeles’ Factual and others.

Workplace app Branch Messenger expands to Minneapolis

After a few weeks this summer working closely with Target executives and other mentors at a start-up boot camp in Minneapolis, workplace chat app Branch Messenger has no plans to leave the city.

The company will continue to be based out of the Idealab business incubation firm in Pasadena. But the decision to expand to Minneapolis demonstrates how the corporate programs for start-ups that have launched in recent years are starting to find their groove.

Branch Chief Executive Atif Siddiqi said the program at Target, run in tandem with the investment group Techstars, helped him focus in on a plan to target big customers.

In Minneapolis, Branch gets closer access to companies like Target, General Mills and Best Buy. And that’s essential for a start-up whose software enables employees within a retail location to swap shifts, plan schedules and talk to co-workers. Employees can use the app for free, but companies can purchase access to manage scheduling and identify trends.

Siddiqi said he hasn’t decided whether the company will raise venture capital funding or rely on sales to fund its expansion.

“We’re looking at all our options,” he said.

Tinder invests in social media app for women

Tinder Chief Executive Sean Rad and Vina founder Olivia June Poole.
Tinder Chief Executive Sean Rad and Vina founder Olivia June Poole. (Tinder)

Tinder has tried to push the idea that it’s an app for meeting new people — and not just people you want to date.

Although the app’s attachment to dating could be hard to shake off, Tinder the company is shaping up to be more.

Last week, the West Hollywood subsidiary of dating giant Match Group announced an investment in Vina, a social media service aimed at helping women find female friends. Tinder also launched Stacks, an app that brings the swiping gesture it popularized to polling friends about any topic.

Tinder said it plans to mentor Vina as the start-up expands worldwide and tries to keep up with fast user growth.

Partnering with a start-up co-founded by two women could polish’s Tinder public image, which was tarnished by a sexual harassment lawsuit from a former female employee that was later settled. People also complain about how Tinder’s emphasis on people’s looks objectifies women.

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The broadband industry’s four main lobbying groups are joining forces to stop California’s state net neutrality law from taking effect.

On Wednesday, mobile-industry lobbyist the CTIA; USTelecom, which lobbies for the telecommunications industry; and the two lobbying organizations for the cable industry, NCTA and the American Cable Association, jointly filed a lawsuit in federal court against the state of California to block its new law.

Collectively, the groups represent almost every broadband provider in the country, including mobile operators like T-Mobile and Sprint as well as cable and telecom companies such as AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Verizon, Frontier and CenturyLink.

The suit, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California, asserts that California’s net neutrality protections are illegal because they’re pre-empted by the Federal Communications Commission, which rolled back federal net neutrality rules earlier this year.

The trade groups’ suit calls California’s law a “classic example of unconstitutional state regulation,” and it’s asking the court to block the rules from taking effect on Jan. 1.

This is the second lawsuit filed against California since Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Sunday. The Trump administration’s Department of Justice is also suing California and seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the law from going into effect.

At issue is whether California and other states have the right to pass net neutrality laws, which they claim are necessary to protect their citizens. As part of its roll-back of federal net neutrality rules in June, the FCC included a provision in its order that pre-empted states from creating their own regulations. The DOJ and the broadband industry argue it would be too complicated for internet service providers to follow different net neutrality rules in 50 states.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said California’s law violated the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.

“Under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce — the federal government does,” he said in a statement.

But net neutrality supporters argue that since the FCC has refused to regulate these services and because the agency actually abdicated its authority for such regulation to the Federal Trade Commission, states can impose their own rules for services delivered in their states.

California style

California’s law, which prohibits internet service providers from slowing down or blocking access to websites or charging companies like Netflix extra to deliver their services faster, is based on Obama-era net neutrality protections that the Republican-led FCC rolled back earlier this year. But California’s law goes further, also outlawing some zero-rating offers, such as AT&T’s offer, which exempts its own streaming services from its wireless customers’ data caps. The law also applies the net neutrality rules to so-called “interconnection” deals between network operators, something the FCC’s 2015 rules didn’t explicitly do.

The legislation has been opposed by the broadband industry, which considers it too restrictive.

California is just one of several states looking to enact its own rules governing an open internet, after the FCC, under Pai, rolled back the Obama-era net neutrality rules in June. States such as Washington have pushed through a net neutrality law, while others are considering doing so.

Meanwhile, attorneys general of 22 states and the District of Columbia have already filed a brief to a US Appeals Court to reverse the FCC’s move. Companies like Firefox publisher Mozilla and trade groups also filed arguments.

Net neutrality, the principle that all internet traffic is treated fairly, has been one of the hottest topics of debate over the past several years. Consumers, tech companies and Democrats have pushed for stricter regulations prohibiting the prioritization of traffic, which resulted in the rules put in place by the previous FCC. But the Trump-era FCC has agreed with ISPs and Republicans who fear the regulations are onerous and hurt capital investment.

Taking It to Extremes: Mix insane situations — erupting volcanoes, nuclear meltdowns, 30-foot waves — with everyday tech. Here’s what happens.





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Since 2014 Apple and IBM have been working with clients to usher in a new era of smart enterprise. The latest collaboration offers companies interested in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) a chance to be a part of the next big shift in enterprise mobile intelligence — by bringing the power of IBM’s Watson AI services and Apple’s machine learning framework, Core ML, to native iOS apps. IBM Watson Services for Core ML delivers native iOS apps that give developers access to vast amounts of data, both on their device and through the cloud. This means that users can access information and deep insights directly on their iPhone or iPad, even when it’s not connected to a network.

AI Everywhere with IBM Watson and Apple Core ML →

The Coca-Cola Company is always innovating across their technology landscape, and AI is a key focus area. When presented with the opportunity to explore the value of IBM Watson services and machine learning, they quickly engaged. With the Coca-Cola emphasis on quality, they are currently partnering with IBM, working on prototypes for how IBM Watson Services for Core ML may transform in-field capabilities. Initial functionalities being analyzed are visual recognition problem identification, cognitive diagnosis and augmented repair. Early exploration is promising, and Coca-Cola and IBM continue to determine next steps.

Challenges in the field

Field technicians are deployed to service and repair beverage dispensing machines at restaurants and venues around the world. Once on site, the tech must be able to diagnose and correct an enormous array of problems, relying ultimately on their personal expertise and experience. If the system is not one the technician is familiar with – an uncommon water filter, for example – then routine repairs can become frustrating and time-consuming. Adding to the challenges, many sites are in remote or rural locations with no data connectivity, meaning no access to support, and therefore limited ability to make repairs. In these cases, the tech would need to spend time searching through informational databases, product manuals, and might even need to call in or consult with a colleague or specialist – resulting in lost productivity and prolonged system downtime.

Enter Watson Services for Core ML

With the AI capabilities of IBM Watson and Core ML, relevant information is put directly into a tech’s hands the moment she needs it, allowing her to resolve the issue quickly. Coca-Cola used Watson Services for Core ML to build an app that leverages visual recognition and augmented reality to identify equipment issues, diagnose problems, and troubleshoot repairs.

Through the app, the tech can use their iPhone or iPad camera to diagnose system problems via a virtual overlay and guided instructions pulled from the cloud, with zero latency, and even in areas with no network connectivity. Watson Visual Recognition on the device helps the technician identify older or poorly differentiated systems, or unfamiliar parts, and pinpoint the problem right away. Then, Watson Discovery Service helps identify possible solutions for the specific systems and type of malfunction.

Using ARKit, an iOS framework with resources to help create augmented reality experiences for the iPhone and iPad, developers are able to integrate apps with augmented reality models that help the technician solve complex problems on less-familiar systems.

As the technician is working on the job, data is captured. That data is then sent to the cloud once the device is back on the network, so Watson can learn from the interaction and make the learning available to other technicians in near real-time. Using the guided repair system, the technician is empowered to solve the problem the first time, increasing productivity, and elevating customer service – all without needing to call for assistance or reschedule the repair.

With Watson, the technician can identify the problem and determine a solution in less time, no matter their location. Watson Services for Core ML provides developers with the tools to build apps that can give technicians in the field the right data, knowledge, and capabilities to do their best work. Coca-Cola is piloting the app with its field technicians now.

Beth Smith announces IBM Watson Services for Core ML at Think 2018


Watch the IBM Watson Services for Core ML announcement at Think 2018

Watson Technology being used:

  • Watson Visual Recognition
  • Watson Studio

With the help of Watson, field technicians can now:

  • Leverage the power of Apple Core ML to diagnose and correct an enormous array of problems on-site, with little or no network connectivity
  • Save time and increase productivity
  • Use cutting-edge augmented-reality from ARKit merged with Watson’s advanced visual recognition and detection technology to accurately find possible solutions and avoid lengthy delays
  • Learn from other technicians’ experience in near real time

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Overview: The problem

Having farmed in California for more than 80 years, E. & J. Gallo Winery knows that no resource is more important than water, which is why water management has been a top priority for the company for decades.

Enter Watson

E. & J. Gallo Winery and Watson are now using weather reports and remote sensor data to deliver precise amounts of water to each vine, optimizing growth. The secret is located above the clouds, in a satellite looking down on the vineyard.

This allows the exact needed amount of water – based on highly targeted irrigation requirements – to be dispensed to each grapevine. As the weather changes, the irrigation methods react to ensure vines only receive water when needed.

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IBM Cloud is built to handle cognitive workloads, such as the immense amount of data from satellites and IoT sensors. It also uses The Weather Company data from 2.2 Billion locations, which is combined with E. & J. Gallo Winery’s other data sources to help perfect individualized irrigation plans.

A competitive advantage

Because of this tailored watering, E. & J. Gallo Winery reduced its water use by 25%, while also improving the quality of its wine.

Wineries, hospitals, businesses, educators and governments are now working with Watson. In 45 countries and 20 industries, Watson is helping people make sense of data so they can make better decisions while uncovering new ideas.

How a vineyard is working with Watson

  • Watson ingests data from weather, satellite, and sensor data on the IBM Cloud.
  • The data helps identify conditions in the vines and atmosphere.
  • After determining specific needs of the vines, given situational data, the system adapts irrigation levels.
  • The watering is tailored for precise areas to ripen grapes in sync and with improved quality.
  • With improved water efficiency, the largest family- owned winery in the world creates a superior product and reduces its water use by 25% in the process.

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