Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Jordan Vogt-Roberts to Helm Netflix’s Live-Action Gundam Movie

(Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)Jordan Vogt-Roberts to helm Netflix’s live-action Gundam movieIt has been four years since the successful release of Kong: Skull Island, and now director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has finally found his next big project with Legendary. Vogt-Roberts has officially signed on to direct the studio’s first-ever live-action feature film version of Gundam for Netflix, which will be based on the universe of Sunrise’s iconic Japanese robot franchise.This marks Legendary and Netflix’s latest collaboration together, the two companies previously worked on films such as 2016’s Spectral and last year’s Enola Holmes as well as shows like Lost in Space and Pacific Rim: The Black. They are also currently working on the anime series adaptation of Skull Island and Tom Raider.RELATED: Netflix’s Live-Action Cowboy Bebop Series Wraps Production!Plot details for the Netflix film are being kept under wraps but the original Gundam series is set in the Universal Century, an era in which humanity’s growing population has led people to emigrate to space colonies. Eventually, the people living in the colonies seek their autonomy and launch a war of independence against the people living on Earth. Through the tragedies and discord arising from this human conflict, not only the maturation of the main character but also the intentions of enemies and the surrounding people are sensitively depicted. The battles in the story, in which the characters pilot robots known as mobile suits, are wildly popular. The Gundam universe is replete with numerous storylines of love and conflict along with the popular Gundam battles, in which the characters operate robot suits called Mobile Suits.The live-action Gundam film will be penned by Brian K Vaughan. It will be produced by Vogt-Roberts with Vaughan set as executive producer. Legendary’s Cale Boyter will oversee the project along with the Sunrise creative team. The project was actually first announced in 2018 at the Anime Expo.RELATED: Sony & Netflix Ink First-Pay Streaming Licensing DealCreated by Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino, the franchise first started in 1979 with the TV series titled Mobile Suit Gundam. The massively popular Mecha anime and science fiction media franchise is Sunrise’s multi-billion-dollar property that has spawned a multi-platform universe encompassing televised anime, manga, animated films, video games, plastic models, toys, and novels among other media. Gundam continues to dominate Bandai Namco’s earnings almost forty years after its inception.
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    Vudu is here on Amazon's Fire TV platform

    Last year Walmart sold its mostly-video on-demand video service Vudu to Fandango, and now, after many years of not working on Amazon's Fire TV platform the app has finally reached one of the few devices it wasn't already on. Vudu has always specialized in delivering high-quality movies and TV shows, even dating back to when you needed a $400 box just to access it. While Fire TV of course includes Amazon's own video on-demand store, having Vudu available means people can stream 4K and HDR content from another source, as well as enjoy the various sales and even free ad-supported streaming it has. In a statement, Fandango exec Kevin Shepela said "With Vudu’s vast library of premium content from new release event movies to favorite films and TV shows, we are excited to deliver to Fire TV users so many new viewing options to watch in their living rooms, many in breathtaking 4K." The announcement also noted "double-digit" growth in new accounts during 2020 — you'd hope so, with so many people watching movies at home — compared to the previous year. Along with this launch, and Vudu recently becoming available on Comcast's set-top boxes, that hopefully means good things about its future under new ownership. The pace of developing new features for Vudu has always been relatively slow, and while its UI is consistent, it hasn't changed significantly in many years, so anyone with a library of content stored on the service benefits from it continuing to grow.

    Ever heard a catchy song on your smart speaker and wanted to share it right away? You can act on that impulse if you have an Echo. Amazon is rolling out a music sharing feature that lets you share songs with Alexa contacts using Echo devices or the Alexa app. Ask the voice assistant to “share this song with” a contact and they can not only choose to listen, but send a reaction. Thankfully, you don’t need to use Amazon Music or even the same streaming service as your recipient. Alexa will try to find a track on any services available to you. If there’s no match, you’ll still get a station based on the artist’s name and song title. You can try the feature by enabling Alexa Communications. If you’re not sure about the contacts that can receive a song, you can start a new message to see who’s available. Amazon characterized this as “just the beginning” of the sharing feature, hinting at possible upgrades in the future. For now, though, the feature could be helpful if you’d rather not turn to text messages or social networks just to spread the word about a can’t-miss tune — at least, so long as your friends are as invested in the Alexa ecosystem as you are.

    Amazon adds Mac Minis to its cloud to assist Apple developers

    AWS Amazon is bringing the Mac Mini to the cloud for developers who want cloud-based build and test machines for any Apple device app. The new “EC2 Mac instances” use physical Mac Minis with Intel i7 six-core chips and 32GB of RAM. However, AWS plans to roll out M1 Mac Minis as well within the first half of 2021, the company told TechCrunch. “Powered by Mac Mini hardware and the AWS Nitro System, you can use Amazon EC2 Mac instances to build, test, package, and sign Xcode applications for the Apple platform including macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and Safari,” wrote Amazon evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog post. [embedded content] The EC2 Mac instances use unmodified Mac Minis installed into racks on service sleds. You’ll also get full access to your own machine that’s not shared with any other users, rather than just a virtualized instance. “We wanted to make sure that we support the Mac Mini that you would get if you went to the Apple store and you bought a Mac Mini,” said AWS VP David Brown. You’ll pay for that privilege. It costs $1.083 per hour with a minimum 24 hours to get started, with billing done by the second thereafter. That’s considerably more than other Mac Mini cloud providers, as TechCrunch noted, though Amazon is promising all the benefits of a regular AWS server, including speed, security and granular controls. The company can also deliver different machine images for past and upcoming macOS versions. “You can literally launch these machines in minutes and have a working machine available to you,” said Brown. “If you decide you want 100 of them, 500 of them, you just ask us for that and we’ll make them available.” The Mac instances are now available for testing in the various regions in the US, Europe and Asia, with others to follow later. In this article: iOS, AWS, Amazon, iPADOS, EC2 Mac Instances, macOS, developers, Mac Mini, news, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

    Watch Amazon's entire new hardware event the following

    Sponsored Links Ring If you have to see the Ring Always Home Cam in action to believe that Amazon made a flying security drone for your house, then check out the video of its hardware event. The live stream wasn’t available publicly yesterday, but now you can click through the highlights on a YouTube stream (or just check out a 30-second ad for the Ring drone that’s also embedded below). If you prefer text, we have a full rundown right here that covers all of the Echo, eero, Fire TV and Ring hardware unveiled. [embedded content][embedded content] Catch up on all of the news from Amazon's 2020 hardware event right here! In this article: Amazon, Fire TV, Ring Always Home Cam, drones, eero, Echo, amazon2020, news, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Comments 144 Shares Share Tweet Share

    Another generation of wearables is a privacy minefield

    Facebook recently gave us our best glimpse yet into its augmented reality plans. The company will be piloting a new set of glasses that will lay the groundwork for an eventual consumer-ready product. The “research project,” called Project Aria, is still in very early stages, according to Facebook. There’s no display, but the glasses are equipped with an array of sensors and microphones that record video, audio and even its wearer’s eye movements — all with the goal of helping scientists at Facebook’s Reality Labs “figure out how AR can work in practice.” Though the project is in its infancy, Facebook is clearly enthusiastic about its potential. “Imagine calling a friend and chatting with their lifelike avatar across the table,” the company writes. “Imagine a digital assistant smart enough to detect road hazards, offer up stats during a business meeting, or even help you hear better in a noisy environment. This is a world where the device itself disappears entirely into the ebb and flow of everyday life.” But if you’re among those who believe Facebook already knows too much about our lives, you’re probably more than slightly disturbed by the idea of Facebook having a semi-permanent presence on your actual face.  Facebook Facebook, to its credit, is aware of this. The company published a lengthy blog post on all the ways it’s taking privacy into consideration. For example, it says workers who wear the glasses will be easily identifiable and will be trained in “appropriate use.” The company will also encrypt data and blur faces and license plates. It promises the data it collects “will not be used to inform the ads people see across Facebook’s apps,” and only approved researchers will be able to access it.  But none of that addresses how Facebook intends to use this data or what type of “research” it will be used for. Yes, it will further the social network’s understanding of augmented reality, but there’s a whole lot else that comes with that. As the digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) noted in a recent blog post, eye tracking alone has numerous implications beyond the core functions of an AR or VR headset. Our eyes can indicate how we’re thinking and feeling — not just what we’re looking at. As the EFF’s Rory Mir and Katitza Rodriguez explained in the post: How we move and interact with the world offers insight, by proxy, into how we think and feel at the moment. If aggregated, those in control of this biometric data may be able to identify patterns that let them more precisely predict (or cause) certain behavior and even emotions in the virtual world. It may allow companies to exploit users' emotional vulnerabilities through strategies that are difficult for the user to perceive and resist. What makes the collection of this sort of biometric data particularly frightening, is that unlike a credit card or password, it is information about us we cannot change. Once collected, there is little users can do to mitigate the harm done by leaks or data being monetized with additional parties. There’s also a more practical concern, according to Rodriguez and Mir. That’s “bystander privacy,” or the right to privacy in public. “I'm concerned that if the protections are not the right ones, with this technology, we can be building a surveillance society where users lose their privacy in public spaces,” Rodriguez, International Rights Director for EFF, told Engadget. “I think these companies are going to push for new changes in society of how we behave in public spaces. And they have to be much more transparent on that front.” In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that “Project Aria is a research tool that will help us develop the safeguards, policies and even social norms necessary to govern the use of AR glasses and other future wearable devices.”  Facebook is far from the only company to grapple with these questions. Apple, also reportedly working on an AR headset, also seems to be experimenting with eye tracking. Amazon, on the other hand, has taken a different approach when it comes to the ability to understand our emotional state.  Consider its newest wearable: Halo. At first glance, the device, which is an actual product people will soon be able to use, seems much closer to the kinds of wrist-worn devices that are already widely available. It can check your heart rate and track your sleep. It also has one other feature you won’t find on your standard Fitbit or smartwatch: tone analysis.  Opt in and the wearable will passively listen to your voice throughout the day in order to “analyze the positivity and energy of your voice.” It’s supposed to aid in your overall well being, according to Amazon. The company suggests that the feature will “help customers understand how they sound to others,” and “support emotional and social well-being and help strengthen communication and relationships.” Amazon If that sounds vaguely dystopian, you’re not alone, the feature has already sparked more than one Black Mirror comparison. Also concerning: history has repeatedly taught us that these kinds of systems often end up being extremely biased, regardless of the creator’s intent. As Protocol points out, AI systems tend to be pretty bad at treating women and people of color the same way they treat white men. Amazon itself has struggled with this. A study last year from MIT’s Media lab found that Amazon’s facial recognition tech had a hard time accurately identifying the faces of dark-skinned women. And a 2019 Stanford study found racial disparities in Amazon’s speech recognition tech.  So while Amazon has said it uses diverse data to train its algorithms, it’s far from guaranteed that it will treat all its users the same in practice. But even if it did treat everyone fairly, giving Amazon a direct line into your emotional state could also have serious privacy implications.  And not just because it’s creepy for the world’s biggest retailer to know how you’re feeling at any given moment. There’s also the distinct possibility that Amazon could, one day, use these newfound insights to get you to buy more stuff. Just because there’s currently no link between Halo and Amazon’s retail service or Alexa, doesn’t mean that will always be the case. In fact, we know from patent filings Amazon has given the idea more than a passing thought. The company was granted a patent two years ago that lays out in detail how Alexa may proactively recommend products based on how your voice sounds. The patent describes a system that would allow Amazon to detect “an abnormal physical or emotional condition” based on the sound of a voice. It could then suggest content, surface ads and recommend products based on the “abnormality.” Patent filings are not necessarily indicative of actual plans, but they do offer a window into how a company is thinking about a particular type of technology. And in Amazon’s case, its ideas for emotion detection are more than a little alarming. An Amazon spokesperson told Engadget that “we do not use Amazon Halo health data for marketing, product recommendations, or advertising,” but declined to comment on future plans. The patent offers some potential clues, though. Google Patents/Amazon “A current physical and/or emotional condition of the user may facilitate the ability to provide highly targeted audio content, such as audio advertisements or promotions,” the patent states. “For example, certain content, such as content related to cough drops or flu medicine, may be targeted towards users who have sore throats.” In another example — helpfully illustrated by Amazon — an Echo-like device recommends a chicken soup recipe when it hears a cough and a sniffle.  As unsettling as that sounds, Amazon makes clear that it’s not only taking the sound of your voice into account. The patent notes that it may also use your browsing and purchase history, “number of clicks,” and other metadata to target content. In other words: Amazon would use not just your perceived emotional state, but everything else it knows about you to target products and ads.  Which brings us back to Facebook. Whatever product Aria eventually becomes, it’s impossible now, in 2020, to fathom a version of this that won’t violate our privacy in new and inventive ways in order to feed into Facebook’s already disturbingly-precise ad machine.  Facebook’s mobile apps already vacuum up an astounding amount of data about where we go, what we buy and just about everything else we do on the internet. The company may have desensitized us enough at this point to take that for granted, but it’s worth considering how much more we’re willing to give away. What happens when Facebook knows not just where we go and who we see, but everything we look at?  A Facebook spokesperson said the company would “be up front about any plans related to ads.” “Project Aria is a research effort and its purpose is to help us understand the hardware and software needed to build AR glasses – not to personalize ads. In the event any of this technology is integrated into a commercially available device in the future, we will be up front about any plans related to ads.” A promise of transparency, however, is much different than an assurance of what will happen to our data. And it highlights why privacy legislation is so important — because without it, we have little alternative than to take a company’s word for it.  “Facebook is positioning itself to be the Android of AR VR,” Mir said. “I think because they're in their infancy, it makes sense that they're taking precautions to keep data separate from advertising and all these things. But the concern is, once they do control the medium or have an Android-level control of the market, at that point, how are we making sure that they're sticking to good privacy practices?” And the question of good privacy practices only becomes more urgent when you consider how much more data companies like Facebook and Amazon are poised to have access to. Products like Halo and research projects like Aria may be experimental for now, but that may not always be the case. And, in the absence of stronger regulations, there will be little preventing them from using these new insights about us to further their dominance.  “There are no federal privacy laws in the United States,” Rodriguez said. ”People rely on privacy policies, but privacy policies change over time.” In this article: Amazon, wearables, Augmented reality, privacy, Facebook, news, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Comments 193 Shares Share Tweet Share

    Amazon Orders Spin-Off of Superhero Hit The Boys!

    Amazon orders spin-off of superhero hit The Boys! After receiving even further rave reviews from critics and scoring large viewership from audiences, Amazon is looking to keep The Boys‘ success train rolling as they have begun development on a spin-off series alongside a third season of its flagship. RELATED: The Boys, Truth Seekers & More Part of New York Comic Con Lineup Craig Rosenberg, an executive producer and writer on the main series, is writing the pilot for the potential spin-off and is set to act as showrunner and executive producer for the new project alongside main series’ creator Eric Kripke, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Weaver of Point Grey Pictures and Neal H. Moritz and Payun Shetty of Original Film, while Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television will produce. The spin-off will be set in America’s only college for young adult superheroes, ineffectually referred to as supes, run by Vought International and is being described as “an irreverent, R-rated series that explores the lives of hormonal, competitive supes as they put their physical, sexual and moral boundaries to the test,” blending the pitfalls of a college series with the gritty competitive nature of The Hunger Games and heart, satire and raunch of the main series. Click here to catch up on the second season of The Boys! In Season 2, The Boys are on the run from the law, hunted by the Supes, and desperately trying to regroup and fight back against Vought. In hiding, Hughie (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon), and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) try to adjust to a new normal, with Butcher (Karl Urban) nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) must navigate her place in The Seven as Homelander (Antony Starr) sets his sights on taking complete control. His power is threatened with the addition of Stormfront (Aya Cash), a social-media-savvy new Supe, who has an agenda of her own. On top of that, the Supervillain threat takes center stage and makes waves as Vought seeks to capitalize on the nation’s paranoia. The Boys is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes, who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as gods, abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. It’s the powerless against the super powerful as The Boys embark on a heroic quest to expose the truth about the supergroup known as “The Seven.” The show retains most of the comics (available for purchase here) boundary-pushing violence and sexuality while exploring the dark side of superhero celebrity and fame. RELATED: Shawn Ashmore Offers First Look at The Boys’ Lamplighter The series was created by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, who are responsible for another subversive comic book-inspired series, AMC’s Preacher, and Supernatural creator Eric Kripke. Season 1 is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, with the first five episodes available to stream now!

    Amazon's Fire TV Stick Lite offers HD streaming for $30

    Sponsored Links Amazon As expected, Amazon just announced a new low-cost streaming media player. When the Fire TV Stick Lite becomes available later this month, it will set you back a mere $30. For that price, you get a streaming device that supports Full HD playback with HDR and comes with a redesigned Alexa Voice Remote that skips on volume and power buttons. Amazon is also refreshing the original Fire TV Stick, which was discontinued recently. According to Amazon, the $40 device features a quad-core processor that is 50 percent more powerful than the one in the company’s previous model. It also features support for HD streaming, HDR, Dolby Atmos (but no Dolby Vision) and support for dual-band 802.11ac WiFi. For that extra $10, you also get a remote that includes TV controls. Like the Fire TV Stick Lite, it will be available later this month. In addition to new hardware, Amazon announced that it has a new Fire TV experience in the works. You’ll be able to check out the new interface on both the Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite. As for what’s new, the company says it makes finding the content you want to watch more intuitive, with a redesigned main menu that highlights your favorite streaming services. That’s also a new Find experience that aids with discovering new movies and TV shows to watch. Catch up on all of the news from Amazon's 2020 hardware event right here! In this article: amazon, av, amazon2020, Fire TV Stick Lite, gadgets, Fire TV, gadgetry, news, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Comments 65 Shares Share Tweet Share

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