NBA Games Are Longer This Year And The League Is OK With That, Stressing Game Flow As More Important

The length of an average game has become a massive issue in major American professional sports. Major League Baseball is discussing transformative rules changes to shorten their games and appeal to a younger, broader audience. Yet NBA games are quantifiably, marginally longer this year and the league said that it’s okay with that, more concerned with what it termed game flow than adding a little bit of time to its games so far this season.

Through games played on Dec. 6, non-overtime games are a little over two minutes longer this year, per numbers provided by the league, and just under three minutes longer on average if you factor in OT games.

Time of Game (through Dec. 6)

Season All Games Non-OT Games
2015-16 2:16:41 2:15:40
2016-17 2:18:19 2:16:28
2017-18 2:11:48 2:11:16
2018-19 2:14:39 2:13:26

A lot of that has to do with the new enforcement of the freedom of motion rules, which has led to more fouls being called this season. In games played through Dec. 5, there were 43.6 fouls being called per game. That’s up four fouls per game from last year and three fouls year to date, according to the NBA.

[“source=forbes]

eBay takes 15% off smartwatches, other gadgets in the UK and Ireland

Holiday shopping is upon us and eBay is thinking about PRESENTS – that’s the coupon code for 15% off certain categories. The deal lasts until midnight tomorrow and applies to customers from UK and Ireland. As usual, there are limitations: 1 redemption per customer, you need to spend at least £20 and you can get at most £50 off (T&C details here).

You can see all categories that are part of the deal over at eBay, but we’re interested in only a few of them: consoles and games, laptops, computer accessories and, of course, smart watches.

If you’re on a budget, you can skip straight to the Under £150 category. Otherwise, head over to the full listing that has Apple Watches (from Series 1 to 4), Samsung Gear (S2 and S3), Huawei Watches, Garmin watches, plus many others.

15% off smartwatches and other gadgets at eBay 15% off smartwatches and other gadgets at eBay 15% off smartwatches and other gadgets at eBay
15% off smartwatches and other gadgets at eBay

For example, a new Samsung Gear Sport is £160, which works out to £136 post discount. A new Gear S3 frontier is £161. An Apple Watch Series 3 (38mm) is getting close to the max discount – it drops £42 for a price of £238.

Again, those are new units, but there are plenty of refurbished ones too (at a suitably lower price).

[“source=gsmarena”]

Indian consumers will make the voice internet

Voice interaction seems to be an idea, whose time has finally come.

A Space Odyssey, voice recognition has been the holy grail for computer geeks. Speech and language are the first communication technologies, and the main driver of human evolution. But the idea of a voice-activated machine, for information, advice, transactions and, maybe, even friendship, has been a mirage, not a reality, given that speech recognition has been a major challenge.

But voice interaction seems to be an idea, whose time has finally come. Why now? AI advances, using deep neural networks and supporting graphics processing unit (GPU) hardware, have made it possible to train speech engines to reach high accuracy levels, using large amounts of audio data.

And, nowhere is this more relevant than in India. From as long back as the Mahabharata, India has been an oral society, without the West’s history of “type to search” using PCs, which powered the online revolution. Illiteracy, numerous languages, lack of familiarity with multilingual keyboards, mean that other ways of interacting with the digital world are necessary. Affordable smartphones and very cheap data, make India, mobile first. And mobiles are perfect for using voice as a UI!

Last year, 30% of Google search in India was voice driven. Hindi search grew 400% in a single year—a testament to the voracious appetite for online tools and content in local languages. Now, if you are not in vernacular, you are not in India!

Recognising the incredible potential for speech technologies in India, Interspeech, the world’s foremost speech research conference, took place in September in India for the first time. It’s theme: Speech research in multilingual societies in emerging markets! Global leaders in speech discussed the huge potential for voice in India. Hundreds of researchers presented how their flavour of deep neural networks, activation functions and model hyper-parameters, progressed speech research. India’s numerous dialects, accents and languages are a researcher’s utopia—challenges to push the boundaries of speech recognition. Priyanka Chopra advertises hair oil on TV, speaking Hindi and English in a single sentence, or code switching, as its known, in technical parlance. For Indians, it makes perfect sense, but impossible for the mono-lingual British or Americans to understand!

All the global technology behemoths at Interspeech, from Baidu to Google to Facebook and Microsoft, acknowledged the importance of local language speech recognition to reach the next 300 million Indians. E-commerce giants, such as Amazon and Walmart/Flipkart, already know that to realise the Indian market’s potential, targeting the top 10% of English-speaking Indians is not enough.

The local-language Indian audience is the real market! And the race to reach multilingual India has started. Last month, Flipkart acquired Liv.ai, a speech tech start-up, to compete with Amazon’s Alexa, which is five years in the making. Amazon released a Hindi website last week. Google and Microsoft are rolling out their own initiatives in Indian languages.

In supporting Indian users, there is another opportunity—the potential for India to build global speech giants, fuelled by its many languages, dialects and noisy environments. China built its tech giants behind the Great Firewall to exclude American competitors.

India has been open to global technology companies. But with voice, India’s unique challenges (barriers for the faint hearted), could be the “opportunity” for fostering home-grown giants. India has the talent. Indians in India, and globally, are some of the world’s finest speech researchers, and Indian tech entrepreneurs are among the world’s best. Panini, the Sanskrit linguist (approximately 500 BCE), was arguably the world’s first computational linguist.

Indian product companies recognise the opportunity. Some, such as Slang.ai, are making speech tech usable for developers. Others, such as Liv.ai (FlipKart) and Voxta, are building their own recognition engines. Even large Indian corporates are throwing capital at the opportunity and hiring experienced individuals, hoping to short-circuit the learning curve for building speech products.

Either way, the Indian consumer will be the winner! Once, western online users helped fuel the development of internet giants, which became household names. Now India, with its incredible diversity of users—languages, dialects, accents—could be the hothouse for researchers, entrepreneurs, and the capital will come together to build global speech tech giants and a voice internet!

[“source=cnbc”]

How PUBG has redefined the Indian gaming ecosystem forever

Indians are well and truly addicted to PUBG thanks to affordable broadband access all over the country. The success of this online multiplayer game is clearly an inflection point for the Indian gaming industry. Will desi titles finally succeed?  

PUBG screenshot

Earlier this month, I went to my home town in Rajasthan and played PUBG in the overnight bus from Jaipur to Bikaner. I thought I would play one game while the bus was still in Jaipur as the game requires high speed data to play with 100 players synchronously. To my surprise, I ended up playing for four straight hours through the night while the bus travelled through rural Rajasthan – and the game worked throughout!

It was just one example of how India is now truly connected and how things that we thought were unimaginable not so long ago are a reality today. When Jio rolled out its nationwide network and slashed wireless broadband prices, it unleashed – among other things – the tailwind needed for the development of the Indian mobile gaming ecosystem. Global games with a massive following in other markets have been waiting on the sidelines for a long time.

PUBG, from Tencent,  has not only taken the lead in gaining the Indian gaming mindshare but is leading the way for the creation of amazing games for India over the next decade.

When I was moving back to India two years ago, one thing was clear to me – India’s masses have a lot of free time. Whenever I spent time at my cousin’s shop in a Tier 3 town, or in my village in Rajasthan, I could see that people had at least 3-4 hours to kill during their work day. This is excluding the 5-6 hours they have after work when there is little to do in these small towns. This insight made me a firm believer that if a company could provide a credible way for people to kill time on their phones, adoption would be massive. Again, from global experience, I felt that video consumption and mobile gaming would get maximum traction.

We have seen the early signs of growth for the mobile gaming ecosystem in India for the last two years. Game downloads have increased 8-10x, with the active mobile gaming population growing to approximately 200 million. [Source: ET Bureau and App Annie]. This number is expected to grow to 450 million by 2021. Even though the numbers seem large, these are still early days of gaming in India.

Gaming in India: big on downloads, low on revenue

India has become the fifth-largest country by game downloads but remains far behind on gaming revenue. The most widely adopted games in India have, at best, been sub-100MB, single-player or turn-based games. Here’s the thing: games are much more exciting when you play them with others, compete with them and gain recognition among friends and other gamers.

Most of India has not experienced this sort of multi-player gaming as yet; people who have played Age of Empires (AOE) or Counter Strike or Quake during their undergrad days are a small subset and would relate to this format.

I remember getting addicted to AOE during my IIT days and playing it over LAN with seven other players in teams of up to four (there are three modes – solo, duo and squad). The experience of playing it with other friends just made the game so much more interesting that we would play 14-16 hours a day at times and also watch the recordings of the game to improve our game. I remember reading about how (Flipkart Co-founder) Sachin Bansal was a pro Quake player and played competitively during his IIT days.

And that’s how it was – pockets of players. In parallel, most mobile game developers I have spoken to have been very wary of developing multi-player and graphics-heavy games for India. Their scepticism was based on their experiences from the last decade when India was truly crunched for data and, until recently, for phone space. This was the state until PUBG hit our screens.

[“source=forbes]

Motorola One Power to receive Android Pie update in the “next few days” [Updated]

Lenovo-owned Motorola announced the Motorola One Power Android One smartphone back in late August this year. The smartphone was then launched in India in late September with a price tag of ₹15,999. Even though the One Power was launched after Google released Android Pie – the latest version of Android – it came with Android 8.1 Oreo which was released last year. However, those who have been waiting to get a pie of Android Pie on their One Power will be glad to know that Motorola has confirmed to roll out the update pretty soon.

motorola-one-power-1

Motorola has started sending out notifications to One Power users, informing them that the company will start rolling out Android Pie update in the “next few days”. While, the company hasn’t shared any specific timeline for the roll-out of Android Pie update, we are speculating that Motorola will start seeding the Android Pie update for One Power users by next week.

motorola-one-power-android-pie-update-soon-1

The Motorola One Power is an Android One smartphone, which means it runs stock Android and comes with the promise of two years of Android version updates and three years of security updates. The One Power is a mid-range smartphone though. It is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 SoC which is paired with 4 GB RAM. The smartphone boasts a 6.2-inch notched display and rocks dual cameras at the back. You can check out full specifications of Motorola One Power down below.

Motorola One Power Specifications

  • CPU: 1.8 GHz Snapdragon 636 octa-core processor
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • GPU: Adreno 509
  • Operating System: Android 8.1 Oreo (Android 9.0 Pie rolling out soon)
  • Display: 6.2-inch Full-HD+ (2246 x 1080 pixels) 19:9 Max Vision display with a brightness of 450 nits
  • Rear Camera: 16 MP + 5 MP with Portrait Mode, 4K Video Recording and LED flash
  • Front Camera: 12 MP with Portrait Mode and Flash
  • Internal Storage: 64 GB
  • External Storage: Expandable up to 256 GB via microSD card (dedicated slot)
  • SIM: Dual SIM
  • Connectivity: 4G VoLTE, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3.5 mm headphone jack, USB Type-C
  • Other: Fingerprint Scanner, Dolby Audio, Google Lens, Widevine L1 Certification, P2i Water-Repellent Coating
  • Battery: 5000 mAh with 15W TurboPower Charging

[“source=TimeOFIndia”]

How AI Empowers The Evolution Of The Internet

GettyGetty

Computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee drafted the standards and code that became what is now known as the World Wide Web. He imagined it as an open platform where information and opportunities could be accessible to anyone.

The internet has already majorly changed our lives. And today, we are more connected than ever before: 3.6 billion people, or 50% of the entire world’s population, is online. Gartner predicts there will be 12.86 billion IoT devices in use by 2020.

In most countries, being entirely offline is a rarity. In the U.S., only 11% of the total adult population does not go online at all. When it comes to teenagers, these numbers only increase: 95% own or have access to a smartphone, and 45% of them are online “constantly.”

Billions of people use multiple services and platforms daily, leaving behind an ever-growing digital footprint.

Time To Train The Algorithms

AlphaGo, developed by DeepMind, was the first software able to beat a human player at the complex game of Go. Today we see that even more complicated games, such as Dota2, have become easy targets for AI bots. Many gifted scientists work on enabling creativity in machines, as well as making them “think.” So we are stepping closer to general artificial intelligence (AI), which is the type of AI we mostly see in sci-fi movies or books.

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Even though the superintelligence is estimated to emerge later this century (if at all), today is too early to sound the alarms. We are definitely not there yet, and that type of AI is not going to be a reality anytime soon. Today we have machine learning (ML) algorithms that are a tool that can be used for advancing business and improving customer experience.

Such algorithms might prove to be difficult and expensive to create, and tech giants are stepping in to make it more accessible. Cloud AI is gaining ground. Amazon has AWS subsidiary. Google has TensorFlow (open-source AI library) and Cloud AutoML (pre-trained systems), and Microsoft collaborates with Amazon on Gluon, an open-source, deep-learning library.

All these open-source libraries mean that creating machine learning algorithms is becoming more and more feasible. We will see more progress as more scientists have access to them.

Any business that doesn’t start to analyze data and train their machine learning models soon will miss out on an opportunity to advance their services and stand out from the competition.

The Need For Change

Today, Berners-Lee believes that the web has lived up to this vision in many ways. He is also worried about new trends that we must fight in order for the web to “fulfill its true potential as a tool which serves all humanity.”

His concerns are familiar to many: loss of control over our personal data, easily spread misinformation and political advertising that severely lacks transparency. We have privacy issues. We prioritize user experience over security, with major consequences.

One of the reasons sorting out these issues gets complicated is the sheer amount of data online. Humans are not capable of processing the data in a matter of a split second.

Predictive algorithms powered by AI manage to analyze the vast amounts of data created by both internet usage and IoT device usage and help to make sense out of it. Although we may not have all the necessary algorithms programmed at the moment to fix the internet, we are getting here. ML algorithms help to sort through malicious websites and block threats, and they can also help secure the home network and IoT devices.

Humans also have many other biases while making decisions, based on previous beliefs, fear of loss, etc. ML algorithms can become the right tool to solve privacy, security and other issues if we manage to ensure human bias does not reflect in AI algorithms. Even with all the data in the world, we need to make sure that we train our models to be both precise and unbiased

[“source=forbes]

Mirzapur, New Web Series From Amazon Prime Video, Pushes the Envelope in Ways Bollywood Rarely Does

Mirzapur, New Web Series From Amazon Prime Video, Pushes the Envelope in Ways Bollywood Rarely Does

In more ways than one, Mirzapur — Amazon Prime Video’s newest original Web series from India, out now — is a story that isn’t suited for Bollywood’s traditional space: the big screen. None of it has to do with the fact that Mirzapur is an episodic drama, which allows writers to explore characters and chart subplots in manners that isn’t possible on film. Instead, it’s the characteristics and behaviour of those characters, and the level of violence and sex that India’s moral-driven censor board, the CBFC, wouldn’t allow.

“It’s very refreshing because there are very few roles written for women in which their sexuality is acknowledged,” Rasika Dugal, who plays Beena Tripathi, the second wife of the show’s big crime boss in Mirzapur, told Gadgets 360. “We don’t have these conversations about women. Usually, women are objects that have been sexualised, as objects of titillation or as objects of sympathy.”

Also seeMirzapur Offers a Darkly Comedic, Brutal Look at India’s Impoverished Corners

Films from India that have bucked that trend in recent years, the likes of Lipstick Under My Burkha and Veere Di Wedding, can be counted on one hand. Dugal remarked that the scripts she has read for TV shows in the past year have been “far more interesting” than any film scripts she’s read in the past few years. She believes that writers are possibly censoring themselves when it comes to writing for cinema, in contrast to streaming which isn’t regulated by the CBFC.

“Our films are certified in a very, very broad manner: it’s either U, U/A or A,” Ritesh Sidhwani, executive producer on Mirzapur, said. “But there is nothing in between. If you look at TV, you’ve a channel like Discovery Kids, which is only for 9-11-year olds. And there’s a show there, which I was quite surprised to learn, called Little Singham.”

Little Singham is an animated spin-off based on the Ajay Devgn-starrer 2011 action film Singham, which is itself a remake of a 2010 Tamil film. “They started with 60-70 episodes in concept and it’s reached 180-190 episodes,” Sidhwani added. “[That shows] there is an audience for every kind of story. With films, you can go to a 13, 15, and 18 [age bracket], but there shouldn’t be censorship. Beyond 18, once you’re an adult, you can’t tell me to cut something.”

Divyendu Sharma in Amazon Prime Original Series Mirzapur Mirzapur Divyendu Sharma

Divyendu Sharma as Munna Tripathi, Abhishek Banerjee as Compounder in Amazon’s Mirzapur

But until the CBFC gets its act together, stories like Mirzapur‘s will be best told in the streaming domain. In fact, the ideal way to watch even Lipstick Under My Burkha is on Prime Video, which has the film’s uncensored version and not the theatrical release version that was subject to cuts, after originally being denied a release altogether.

That’s not the only way Mirzapur is pushing the envelope. Unlike the majority of filmmaking in India which still relies on ADR (automated dialogue replacement), colloquially known as dubbing, where actors re-record their lines in a studio after filming, Mirzapur made use of sync sound, in which the audio is recorded on location.

“Whenever someone mentions dubbing, I get upset. How will we recreate it in the studio?” Pankaj Tripathi, who plays the show’s central crime figure, Akhandanand Tripathi, asked rhetorically.

“Dubbing, I feel, cheats actors,” Divyendu Sharma, who plays Munna Tripathi, the son of Pankaj’s character on Mirzapur, added. “It’s like, ‘You said it once, now do it again.’ And this time, in a dark room, all alone. It’s so wrong to ask someone to repeat everything. And then, the person on the mic tells you, ‘We’re not getting the right emotion.’ Of course, that’s going to happen. That was filmed in extreme heat, and here I am wearing a sweatshirt in an air-conditioned room. I think it’s a crime to not use of sync sound in this day and age.”

But there’s one aspect that Mirzapur falls short in, technologically. Unlike some Prime Original series from the US, Mirzapur was neither filmed nor mastered in 4K. (Amazon’s previous scripted series from India, Breathe, was notably shot in 8K but received a 2K master.) 4K wasn’t considered for Mirzapur because of two reasons, says Prime Video’s India content chief Vijay Subramaniam, in that not many customers have access to the technology and the post-production infrastructure in India needs to level up.

“We will get there but I don’t think we are there yet,” he added. “Is [4K] important to us? Absolutely.”

mirzapur ritesh sidhwani Mirzapur Ritesh Sidhwani

[“source=TimeOFIndia”]

Google: Android Pie will hit more devices by the end of 2018 than Oreo in 2017, thanks to Project Treble

With major system upgrades landing each year, it feels as though most devices are farther behind than they’ve ever been. Despite the fact that Android Pie still has no presence on Google’s monthly distribution numbers, the company still expects Pie to hit more devices by the end of this year than Oreo saw last year.

In a blog post this week, Google gives a quick update on its efforts with Project Treble. One tidbit in the post is that Google has some big expectations for what Treble will be able to do for the Android ecosystem in terms of delivering major updates.

So far, we’ve only seen a handful of manufacturers roll out updates to Android Pie or launch devices with the OS. That includes Google, obviously, as well as Essential, Sony, OnePlus, and Nokia. That’s barely made a dent in the numbers, though, with Pie still not even showing on Android’s distribution numbers as of last month.

Despite that, with just a month to go, Google expects more devices to be running Pie by the end of 2018 compared to Android Oreo’s numbers in 2017. As a point of comparison, in January of 2018, Oreo was on 0.7% of devices.

Going forward, all devices launching with Android 9 Pie or later will be Treble-compliant and take full advantage of the Treble architecture to deliver faster upgrades. Thanks to Treble, we expect to see more devices from OEMs running Android 9 Pie at the end of 2018 as compared to the number of devices that were running Android Oreo at the end of 2017.

Treble’s goal is to close the gap on updates, making it easier for devices to launch updates faster than ever before. For some OEMs, that’s been true. Essential gave Treble a lot of credit for its day-one Android Pie update.

There’s seemingly hope for other OEMs as well. Samsung, for example, didn’t start rolling out Android Oreo until February of 2018, but it will launch Pie in January of 2019 for a handful of devices. Considering that update comes with a major refresh to the company’s own software layer, I’d say that’s good progress. Hopefully, we’ll see even further progress over the coming years.

[“source=forbes]

The best tech gifts & gadgets for kids 2018

best gifts for kids

2018 has been a great year for kids’ gifts and gadgets, with robots, coding games and other high-tech toys topping Christmas gift lists from a huge variety of retailers. All are exciting and there are plenty of different options for every price range.

Here, we’ve picked out the best we’ve seen, to help you find the perfect gift for the children you need to buy for this year.

If you’re looking for gifts for other family members and friends, you’ll like our ultimate guide to Christmas gifts.

Anki Cozmo

Anki Cozmo

  • RRP: $179.99

This is one of the smartest robots we’ve met. It’s tiny, but offers an impressive number of intelligent features including the ability to recognise faces, play games and learn. Cozmo comes with three LED cubes that he can interact with as you play, too.

The most endearing thing about Cozmo is that it really feels like he has a personality. Kids are going to love him – or his new older brother, Vector, which comes packed with extra smart features, like a cuter version of Siri or Alexa.

For more awesome robots for kids (and big kids too), visit our round-up of the best robots here.

Sphero Ultimate Lightning McQueen

Sphero Ultimate Lightning McQueen

  • RRP: $299

Sphero offers a range of amazing products for kids. Prices vary, but you can feel confident that you’re going to get fantastic quality from this robotics company.

Star Wars fans will love the app-controlled Sphero R2-D2 and Sphero BB-9E, while Disney fans will enjoy the Sphero Ultimate Lightning McQueen and the Sphero Spider-Man.

On the other hand, the Sphero Bolt and SPRK+ are both fun and educational, designed to inspire kids to learn to code, as is the pint-sized (and priced) Sphero Mini.

You can buy each of Sphero’s robots from the links below:

[“source=forbes]

Nostalgic Gaming: Why Players are Returning to the Retro Wave

Over the years, gaming has changed drastically and with so many modern consoles and games being developed and released, gamers around the world have many options when it comes to playing games at home. While these modern gadgets and game titles are huge sellers and deliver the ultimate gaming experience, many players still enjoy the retro games from years ago. Nostalgic gaming has become quite popular and even with so many new games and new devices, players are turning back the hands of time and enjoying the games they played while growing up.

Anyone that lived in the 1980s and 1990s will have enjoyed the first gaming consoles and while these offer toned down graphics and options compared to the games of today, they are still enjoyed by many. In fact, thousands of gamers claim they prefer to play retro-style games over those being offered today. Not only is cost a factor, but the sheer enjoyment of simple games has many players seeking those retro consoles and titles.

The Rebirth of Retro Gaming

Retro gaming is also referred to as classic gaming and takes place using old systems that are very out of date. Many players over the years have become fans of popular games and characters from the retro games that were played, such as Pac-Man, Super Mario, and Kirby. The rebirth of retro games is not only happening through consoles but is found just about everywhere. Players are enjoying merchandise that features retro characters and there are some amazing accessories that can be purchased at retailers.

Quarter Arcades Pac-man Cabinet

Quarter Arcades Pac-man Cabinet

Now, many players who have enjoyed retro games over the years can benefit from consoles that are designed to offer hundreds of titles without having to purchase separate games. Nintendo released a console that contained many of the older games that were enjoyed and there is talk that Atari will be doing the same. Retro gaming is on the rise again and many people who started playing video games when they were first released are enjoying taking a trip back in time and reliving their youth and even sharing that experience with their own children.

Great Retro Game Consoles

Between Atari, Nintendo, PlayStation, and Sega, there are some great consoles that can still be used and even purchased, which will allow players to enjoy their preferred retro games. Since these consoles are used and quiet od they will not cost much and are often sold in bundles with some popular game titles. As for Nintendo consoles. Retro gamers will love getting their hands o the original SNES console, Game Cube, GameBoy, and NES Classic.

[“source=forbes]

PlayStation fans will be able to find the original PlayStation console as well as PS2, both of which can offer hours of gaming excitement with some of the best titles that have ever been created. Atari lovers will be able to get back in the action with Pac-Man, Space Invaders, BurgerTime, Frogger, Donkey Kong, and some other great retro titles with the Atari 2600 and 7200 consoles.

Retro Games at Casino Sites

Players who love retro games will not only get their thrills from console games but can also enjoy popular characters that are featured with casino games. A number of online casinos offer retro style games as specialty games and they also offer amazing slots that feature retro action, such as Tetris themed games and even Pac-Man games. At leading casino sites like Casumo, players will find a number of retro-themed casino games that can be played, all offering the chance to generate payouts while taking a trip back in time.

[“source=forbes]