AWE 2017 AUGMENTED WORLD EXPO – SUPERPOWERS TO CHANGE THE WORLD

Article and photos by Marcus Siu

Founder and Executive Producer, Ori Inbar at AWE2017. Photo by Marcus Siu.

SANTA CLARA, JUNE 2, 2017 – When the first Augmented World Expo happened in 2010, founder and CEO of AWE, Ori Inbar predicted that in ten years ”everyone will be using AR with experience reality in a more meaningful way”. Ten years would make it the year, 2020.

As we get closer to 2020 and look at how far AWE has gone as the 8th annual AWE comes to an end yesterday, we may have to call Inbar a visionary. He called the shot, and with another two years left, he may be right. Even Digi-Capital just published an article stating that mobile AR will top a billion users and be a $60 billion dollar industry by 2021, so there is conclusive evidence that others will agree with him.

AWE is the largest AR+VR conference and expo in the world and currently has 10,000 attendees. In addition to conferences in the U.S., they also make their presence in Asia and Europe. This year, they have utilized much more space compared to previous years, filling up the 100,000 square feet expo floor at the Santa Clara Convention Center. In addition, as well as seeing the attendance numbers drastically increasing exponentially, AWE will be promoting their conferences in even more countries around the world.

For this years’ show, there were 5000 professionals from startups, corporations and investors. It was a truly international affair, as many professionals came from everywhere around the globe. There were also over 300 speakers, and well over 200 exhibitors.

Mixed Reality and 3D experiences from Microsoft at the AWE Playground. Photo by Marcus Siu.

Part of that is due to the fact that many Fortune 500 companies realized that AR+VR is the latest platform of tomorrow. Many major mainstream companies include Walmart, Lowe’s, NASA, Shazam, Technicolor, Audi and Bosch, in which many are making their very first appearance at AWE.

Many of the high profile technology companies are also making their mark in a flashier way, such as Microsoft and Google, as well as the usual AR & VR startup companies, such as ODG, DAQRI, Kopin, Meta and Wikitude. Inbar points out that the media is focusing more on the Fortune 1000 companies becoming the fastest sector of this technology, but that they should really focus on the upstarts that are going to make a mark on the industry.

ODG continues to dazzle the AWE attendees with its demos for the R-8 and R-9 smart glasses. Photo by Marcus Siu.

Meta’s demo had the longest lines on the floor and ultimately took an Auggie Award for Best in Show AR. Photo by Marcus Siu.

The AWE Playground was a nice new addition this year. It featured many immersive and interactive demos. Though I didn’t have time to visit each demo, I did get a chance to try out a few, including PuttView’s AR Golf Practice, Epson + DJI + Edgybees new drone based AR gaming platform, and a group VR experience with Globacore’s Free Roam VR “The Yolodeck” which I absolutely loved. I was also impressed with Quantum Capture’s Virtual Humans who can 3D scan a real person, such as Ori Inbar or Guillermo Del Toro, and make him as real as can be in the VR world.

Globacore’s Free Roam VR “The Yolodeck” at the VR Playground. Photo by Marcus Siu.

Ori Inbar at the Auggie Awards at AWE2017. Photo by Marcus Siu.

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NVIDIA’S GPU 2017: A.I. – ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS HERE AND THE ROBOTS ARE MAKING GOALS…

CEO Jensen Huang of Nvidia addresses the crowd at the GPU2017 conference at the San Jose Convention Center. Photo by Marcus Siu.

Article and photos by Marcus Siu

SAN JOSE, MAY 10, 2017 – The grandiose trailer starts off with a female voice narrator as she introduces herself as a “visionary”, “healer”, “protector”, “helper”, “navigator”, creator”, “teacher”, “learner” and even the composer of the powerful orchestral soundtrack. She is “A.I.”.

From the intro, the crowd knew from the very beginning that CEO and founder Jensen Huang’s keynote at NVIDIA’s GPU 2017 conference was not only going to be very special, but groundbreaking and mind bending with a glimpse of the not to distant future of Artificial Intelligence.

A.I. was the dominating theme this year at the conference. There were 600 talks in which 300 of them were about Artificial Intelligence.

This year, the rise of GPU computing is reflected by the number of GTC attendees. It’s attendance has increased threefold in the last five years, to 7,000 attendees. There was an 11X increase in GPU developers over the same time to more than 500,000 today, and downloads of NVIDIA’s CUDA drivers and SDK’s exceeded one million a year ago. This year, Nvidia has taken GTC globally. All the top 15 technology companies are here, as well as the top 10 car companies.

Huang started off his keynote showing the charts of Moore’s Law over the last 30 years, citing that advanced micro processing, with the assistance of Dennard’s law of scaling, utilizing more transistors with a reduced voltage, allowed microprocessor performance by a million times. But now both are at the end of the roads, as once 50% per year in increased performance is now just 10% per year, which is why they created a domain specific accelerator that complements the CPU, as well as creating CUDA, which many believe is Moore’s Law Squared; a speedup over the natural processor performance.

CEO Jensen Huang of Nvidia shows the virtual showroom for the latest hybrid car with four avatar onlookers gazing at the detail. Photo by Marcus Siu.

The first demo featured Project Holodeck; a photorealistic VR, combining a shared experience for four avatars from around the world, featuring Huang’s “hyper-car-making friend” Christian from Sweden. Christian was showcasing the new company 1.9-million-dollar hybrid car that he just designed, made of carbon fiber with three electric motors, direct drive and no gears with a combustion engine that has 1,200 horsepower, 680 horsepower of electric drive… and that can run from 0 to 250 in 20 seconds. Huang asked Christian to go into the interior of the car and grab the steering wheel. When he obliged, instead of his hands going right through it like we are so accustomed in today’s VR world, Christian’s hands settled right on top of it, obeying the laws of physics.

All the inventory parts are shown in mid air as CEO Jensen Huang of Nvidia looks on. Photo by Marcus Siu.

When Huang asks to see all the parts of the car, we see them each in every piece scattered in mid-air with thousands of parts floating and then reassembling itself back to its original form.

In the era of machine learning, GPU computing has entered a new era where machine learning has come about; Amazon’s “if you like this, you’ll like this” is an example of machine learning. Software writes software and algorithms write algorithms; thanks to deep learning, powerful GPU’s, with the tremendous amounts of data being generated. Unsupervised learning fills the missing parts of the data where computers automate programs.

A demo compared a pair of simulated Mercedes SLK350’s and a landscape with trees and clouds, one which used deep learning for Ray Tracing and one that didn’t. It was night and day and the Ray Tracing just takes seconds for the encoders to render.

Without Deep Learning shows how much noise there is compared to Deep Learning. Photo by Marcus Siu.

Nvidia’s Research Group has deeply committed itself with A.I. There are 1,300 Deep Learning startups that gets advice and technology and Marketing help from Nvidia, and sometimes even funding. Later in the afternoon on the day of the keynote, $1.5 million was handed out to six companies at the Inception Awards. Even at Huang’s alma mater, Stanford University, the most popular course is not Home Economics, but “Intro to Machine Learning”, which is taken from all majors across campus.

Co founders Jensen Huang and Chris Malachowsky congratulates recipients at The Inception Awards in San Jose, California. Photo by Marcus Siu

Nvidia’s biggest news was the announcement of their next level of computer projects, which turned out to cost about $3 billion R&D project, called the Tesla Volta V100. This new architecture was built from the ground up for deep learning, both for training and inferencing.

The company surpassed Microsoft’s ResNet, Baidu’s Deep Speech 2, and even Google’s NMT. It’s made on TSMC’s 12nm FFN, has 5,120 CUDA cores and 120 TeraFLOPs and Tensor Core processors.

Though it’s mainly for A.I., it does unbelievable graphics as shown on the Japanese sci-fi fantasy, “Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV” by Square Enix, which was featured as a demo during the keynote. Photographic style transfer also uses deep learning, with deep learning from one style and applying it to another in a matter of seconds.

Huang announced that you’ll be able to find Volta in just about everywhere; in the cloud, data center with a Volta the DGX-1 supercomputer, and in a personal DGX station.

CEO Jensen Huang introduces The Volta. Photo by Marcus Siu

A.I. will soon be revolutionizing transportation. Huang points out that we need to find a way automate so we can keep up with the “Amazon Effect”.

“Everything that moves someday will be augmented by autonomy. We’re enjoying the Amazon Effect. As we buy things, don’t forget we used to go to the store to pick up things but now we expect things to come to us. The number of truck drivers, transportation professionals can’t possibly keep up…”.

“Our environment would be better without parked cars… There are 800 million parking spots in America for only 250 million cars. That’s why we’ve created NVIDIA Drive, a full stack that will deliver full autonomy for cars.”

We now have more than 200 developers using DRIVE PX. This is a 50 percent increase in the past quarter alone. NVIDIA Drive can be used for mapping, as a co-pilot and as your guardian angel, so even when the car isn’t driving you, it should be watching out for you. For mapping and driving, a video that shows how a car makes an HD map and localizes itself within it. This shows how a car scans, detects road features, constructs an HD road map and then locates itself. Huang shows on a video how, even though the test pilot is behind the steering wheel, it cuts to the guardian angel, which tells driver not to proceed because there’s a car coming across the intersecting road running through a red light.

In addition to autonomous cars, Huang mentioned that some of their partners are working on autonomous planes and ships.

Nvidia’s announced Toyota, one of the largest companies in the world, has selected them for its self-driving vehicles. The two engineering teams are working to create their fully autonomous car and put it on the road in the next few years. Toyota chose Nvidia’s Drive PX platform for their self driving cars.

CEO Jensen Huang of Nvidia announces a new partnership with Toyota, who selects Nvidia’s Drive PX for their autonomous cars. Photo by Marcus Siu

In addition, Xavier DLA, which is the module that goes inside the Drive PX will be open sourced, making Nvidia’s best technology available for everyone. “Our goal is proliferation,” Huang stated.

Huang also discussed robots.

“The robot is the ultimate version of artificial intelligence. It’s going to revolutionize a whole slew of new industries from manufacturing to health care. We know that robotic surgery is able to perform surgeries that we simply can’t imagine. In the future, we’re going to have cybernetics. We’re going to have robots that are connected to parts of our body. We’re going to have tiny robots that’s going to take care of various tasks.”

“Robots, unfortunately, are incredibly hard to do… It has to sense the world… it has to learn from it and and plan and take action, but it has to interact with the world. With a self driving car, a specific objective is collision avoidance. In a case of robot collision detection is essential – your goal is to connect, your goal is to collide…how you collide is very difficult to do…”.

The first robot demo showed, Ada, the robot, at the Berkeley A.I. Laboratory who learned how to play hockey. The robot was trained to shoot an orange plastic puck into a small net repeatedly using reinforcement learning. It is learning in the real world.

“Hockey is not too bad… what if we wanted a robot to do open a door, lift a car, or cooperate with a doctor to do surgery?” “There is no way we can have it learn this way repeatedly in the physical world.”

That is why an alternate universe has to obey the law of physics if you choose, be visually photo realistic that looks like the world, and has to have the ability to learn inside this alternative universe. The one gap with the real world is it needs to operate…and we would need it train it at warp speed – it needs to move faster.

Project Issac was created in a virtual environment as a robot simulator for this reason. It’s named after two Isaacs – named for physics pioneer Isaac Newton and Isaac Asimov, the science-fiction author. Isaac has the input of environmental robots, you can put virtual sensors, actuators, effectors of the robot and it’s connected to the OpenAI Gym.

“If you’re going to train robots using A.I., they’re going to have to do a lot of work to do their tasks. Robots can learn effectively in this virtual environment and you can take what they’ve learned… and you can take this robot and put it in the real world.” With Project Isaac, the first alternate reality virtual robot simulator. makes it possible for robots to learn inside this virtual world and will hopefully bring the future of artificial intelligence and robotics to the real world.”

The Isaac Robot simulator where the virtual robots learn before being put into the physical world. Photo by Marcus Siu.

Whether it’s Ada shooting shooting hockey pucks into a net or Isaac getting a sixty foot putt on a golf course. For Nvidia’s latest architecture, it’s a score!!!

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NVIDIA Releases VRWorks Audio and 360 Video SDKs at GTC

SAN JOSE, CA,  May 8, 2017 – NVIDIA is making VR more immersive, and VR development easier, with the release of VR audio and 360-degree video stitching as part of our VRWorks software development kit.

Released at the GPU Technology Conference, kicking off today at the San Jose Convention Center, the VRWorks Audio SDK provides real-time ray tracing of audio in virtual environments, and is supported in Epic’s Unreal Engine 4. The VRWorks 360 Video SDK addresses the complex challenge of real-time video stitching.

How sound works in space.

NVIDIA VRWorks Audio helps create a truly immersive environment by modeling sound propagation phenomena, such as reflection, refraction and diffraction. And it does so in real time, thanks to the massive processing power of GPUs.

Using NVIDIA OptiX ray-tracing technology, VRWorks Audio traces the path of sound in real time, delivering physically accurate audio that reflects the size, shape and material properties of the virtual environment.

It’s the only hardware-accelerated and path-traced audio solution that creates a complete acoustic image of the environment in real time without requiring any “pre-baked” knowledge of the scene. As the scene is loaded by the application, the acoustic model is built and updated on the fly. And audio effect filters are generated and applied on the sound source waveforms.

The software release consists of a set of C-APIs for integration into any engine or application, and an integration for Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 that’s now available on GitHub.

GTC attendees can visit the VR Village to experience a live demonstration of VRWorks Audio technology, as well as the SDK integrated into OPTIS’ HIM VR design application.

Come hear the difference!

VRWorks 360 Video for Real-Time Stitching

Also at GTC, we’re releasing the first public beta of the VRWorks 360 Video SDK, which enables real-time 4K 360 video capture, stitching and streaming.

Picture perfect: Z CAM’s V1 PRO VR camera system

In addition, we’re demoing an upcoming release of the VRWorks 360 Video SDK that enables real-time stitching in stereo. Using two Quadro P6000 GPUs, the SDK can stitch eight 4K cameras in stereo as demonstrated with Z CAM’s V1 PRO VR camera system.

“The fact that NVIDIA manages to stitch 4K 360 stereoscopic video in real time, making livestreaming possible, changes the production pipeline and enables entirely new use cases in VR,” said Kinson Loo, CEO of Z CAM.

The NVIDIA VRWorks 360 Video and Audio SDKs are available for all developers to download from developer.nvidia.com/vr. VRWorks 360 Video SDK for mono is available now as a public beta. VRWorks 360 Video SDK for stereo will be released soon.

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TURNING YOUR DUMB CAR INTO A SMART CAR WITH ALEXA – PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT ON LOGITECH’S ZEROTOUCH

Article by Marcus Siu

How often do we notice drivers driving erratically and weaving on the roads, most likely from making or receiving calls on their cell phone? Or even worse, texting with their eyes glued to their phone to ensure their spelling is correct while driving at maximum speeds on the highway? Or perhaps, someone who is distracted because they don’t have their “Green Day” song playing in the background, so they have to search for a certain radio station or CD that is shoved in the glove compartment, unknowingly endangering the drivers and the cars around them.

I think it’s pretty safe to say “all the time”.

In fact, the National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.

Unfortunately it’s just getting worse for more and more drivers on the road, including the ones with good driving records. Along with traffic congestion, increasing commute times, and the number of insane people who have to be on a social network 24-7, it is increasingly getting dangerous on the roads for all of us.

However, wouldn’t it be great if we had a personal assistant in our car to make our calls and texts and answer our questions when needed, keeping our hands on the wheel at all times? Wouldn’t it be great to hear a voice activated “Whatapp” or “Messanger” text and being able to reply back without having to take your hands off the wheel? Or to just play certain music just by using voice activation? Wouldn’t it be great to just concentrate on the road and never be ever distracted again?

Thanks to Logitech’s ZeroTouch, this has become a reality. All you need is a car with Bluetooth connection, an Android smartphone, and a ZeroTouch.

ZeroTouch is a device that extends the typical smartphone into a voice activated controller that acts like a personal A.I. assistant. This makes hands free driving possible while texting and calling, as well as everything else you would want to do on your phone, without actually having to touch it and keep your eyes off the road. The most you would do with your hands is a high-five or a wave over it, which wakes it up. Driving with a cell phone in your car is now safer than ever.

With a ZeroTouch dashboard mount and my smartphone with the Zero Touch app, my dumb-car is now a smart car, turning it into a hands free device and also a “connected car” at the same time. A magnetic dock holds your smartphone onto the mount in full view while driving and the app runs the commands. You just need to make sure that your smartphone is set for Bluetooth and location in the settings.

For the last few months, I’ve been using this wonderful device and it really has become part of my daily routine, and I really don’t know how I was able to cope without it before owning one. This device is a life saver, as I no longer have to put myself in danger by looking away from the road while driving. Instantly, with the wave of your hand over your smartphone, Zero Touch opens up to your commands. You can use it as a GPS to “Navigate” where you want to go. You can “call” or text anyone in your contacts. You can stream a song or artist on Spotify or Pandora, or even check for reviews of restaurants, even without even touching the device.

However, I wish the navigation maps were a little better with ZeroTouch. I asked to navigate to “CVS”, thinking it would take me to the nearest one location, but it gave me another CVS which was several miles further. I also had issues when asking it to navigate to Frys Electronics, as it was never clear which store location it had found.

Hopefully, these bugs can clearly be corrected on a future update.

ZeroTouch did include a great update, as it has incorporated Amazon’s Alexa onto their app. So that covers just about everything else you need for an assistant. Therefore you can ask it anything else you want, including the latest news, up-to-date traffic and weather, the sports score, just about anything you can think of. You can even have it control your smart home’s lights, security, appliances, etc.

For the Alexa owners of the Echo and the Dot who wished they had one in their car, this is it. It’s the exact same software, but it will use your car speakers instead. ZeroTouch is the only car phone holder with voice control and Alexa integration.

Even with the issues that I have encountered, I still think this is the greatest invention since connected homes…

https://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/zerotouch

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GDC2017 – GAME DEVELOPER’S CONFERENCE CONCLUDES ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL EVENT IN SAN FRANCISCO

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Article and Photos by Marcus Siu

SAN FRANCISCO, CA,  Mar 3, 2017 – The Game Developers Conference®, or commonly known as “GDC”, the world’s largest professional game industry event just ended it’s five day stint at San Francisco’s Moscone Center last week.  There was plenty of activity at the event with all the participants flying from all around the globe to show their wares and to be discovered by scouts, as well as the main sponsors of the Gaming community, including major players, such as Sony, Xbox,  Nvidia, Facebook Oculus, Autodesk, Google, Amazon, Lumberyard, and Unity Technologies, just to name just a few.

Much of tomorrow’s young talent showed up at other off-site places close to the Moscone Center, such as CBS Interactive, who hosted the European Game Showcase.  The developers that attended this event are based in countries far away, such as Vienna, Poland, Barcelona, and Holland. Many of these same designers were participating at Moscone West’s Indie Lounge Megabooth during the conference.  They are hoping to get funding or to be scouted by the Big Leagues.  From what I saw, I think many will be discovered.

A wide assortment of games were being demoed throughout the floor at the European Game Showcase.  Though, I didn’t see all of them, I noticed that they were not violent. For example,  I walked through a country hillside in a quaint neighborhood, I played keyboard sports games, I was an actual pinball trying control myself by racking up points by bumping into bumpers and chutes, and I attended a Monster Prom.  I also went through an interactive VR space station.  They were all quite enjoyable, even with my passion for “Call of Duty” games.

Though, much VR was being demoed on the Expo floor by the major players, I’m wondering if it has died down compared to a year ago.

This years conference marks the 31st edition of GDC, making it the longest-running event of its kind. Presented every spring in San Francisco, it is the essential forum for learning, inspiration, and networking for the creators of computer, console, handheld, smartphone, tablet, mobile, and online games and creators of virtual and augmented reality for games and entertainment.

GDC attracts over 27,000 attendees, and is the primary forum where programmers, artists, producers, game designers, audio professionals, business decision-makers and others involved in the development of interactive games and virtual reality gather to exchange ideas and shape the future of the industry. GDC is produced by UBM Game Network, a division of UBM Americas.

There is nothing more exciting then the multitude of ideas flowing from so many great young thinkers who are so enthusiastic about their projects.  It becomes infectious and encourages great networking opportunities for all of those involved.

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MLS ENTERTAINMENT – PREDICTS THE 89TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS

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Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) in LA LA LAND.           Photo Credit: Dale Robinette

Watch the Oscars February 26th live on ABC 7e | 4p!

Article by Marcus Siu

LOS ANGELES, FEBRUARY 24, 2016:  Just barely a year ago, immediately after the “Oscars So White” movement denounced the lack of diversity of minorities for the Academy Award nominations, the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences (AMPAS) announced it would double the number of women and diverse members by the year 2020.

Their “movement belief” was that if hiring reflected the U.S. population, Oscar voters would have weighed 150-plus films directed by women, 45 directed by blacks, 50 by Hispanics, and dozens of movies by directors who are Asian-American, LGBT individuals, people with disabilities and members of other minorities. Of course, the actual tallies were a fraction of those numbers.

During June of last year, the Oscar-granting organization has issued 683 invitations to prospective new members this year, with 46% being women and 41% being people of color. Even with those numbers, there are close to 90% white and 83% men enlisted in the Academy.

However, that seemed to have solved the diversity issue, at least for this year, as six out of the ten acting nominees are non-white and are vying for an Academy Award this weekend.

“Moonlight” has two of those nominations in the supporting actor categories for first time nominees, Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, “Fences” has two for Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in the lead actor categories,  “Loving”‘s Ruth Negga and “Hidden Figures” Octavia Spencer.

This may be the year that will be remembered when diversity broke out.

Here are MLS Entertainment’s predictions for this years Academy Awards.

BEST PICTURE:

“La La Land”
“Moonlight”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Lion”
“Hidden Figures”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”

If La La Lands’ 14 nominations, which is tied for the most nominations ever in the history of the Academy Awards, isn’t a big enough indicator that it will win Best Picture, then nothing is.  The other three movies that were nominated for 14 awards, (“All About Eve”, “Titanic”, and “The Lord of the Rings – Return of the King” eventually took Best Picture.

If another movie wins, then my guess is that the balloting was hacked by cyber terrorists and we should stage a protest and march to Los Angeles and demand the Academy to ask the auditors at Price-Waterhouse to do a re-count.

Prediction: La La Land

FENCES

Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson in Fences from Paramount Pictures. Directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay by August Wilson.

BEST ACTOR:

Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”

Bringing August Wilson’s play “Fences” from stage to screen was a pure consummate project for Denzel Washington.  As the film’s director (and co-producer), he chose to be true to the stage play as he possibly could by keeping the Tony Award winning original 2010 Broadway cast intact.  According to Washington, the star of the movie is the screenplay and August Wilson’s words. With Viola Davis by his side, you couldn’t find a better acting duo this year alongside each other, as both have each won Tony Awards for their work for their respective roles. As a director/actor, he made this film to be an actor’s movie that showcased Wilson’s screenplay. Since most of the Academy are actors, they certainly did appreciate his choice.

Contender Casey Affleck, on the other hand took home the Golden Globe Award and the BAFTA for Best performance by an Actor in his role as a guardian to his brother’s nephew in “Manchester by the Sea”, but I think the edge will still go to Washington, as he took this year’s SAG award for Best Actor and also since this may be his proudest work as the “total filmmaker”.  If he does win, he will have won his third Oscar, which is a feat only accomplished by six other actors since the statuettes were given out.

As for the other three Best Actor nominees; they were all fantastic.  Especially “Captain Fantastic’s” Viggo Mortensen, whose character, as a father of six, unconventionally raises them like no other parent could ever imagine.  Mortensen received the loudest ovation at the SAG luncheon, so he definitely has his share of admirers. Returning two-time Oscar nominee, Ryan Gosling, certainly deserves special recognition for actually playing jazz piano in “La La Land” without stunt doubles or tricky film editing techniques to assist him.  Yes, that’s really him playing.  Lastly, first time nominee, Andrew Garfield had a super exceptional year, as well, and gave us two very “religious” experiences;  his nominated real-life role as Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector and medic in Mel Gibson’s brutal “Hacksaw Ridge”, and also a 17th Century Jesuit priest in Martin Scorcese’s “Silence”.

Prediction: Denzel Washington

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Emma Stone stars as ‘Mia’ in LA LA LAND. Photo Credit: Dale Robinette

BEST ACTRESS

Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Ruth Negga, “Loving”

Second time nominee, Emma Stone, should have her acceptance speech ready by now.  She has basically won virtually every major award for her role as Mia in “La La Land”.  Her drive and dedication for her role included months of rehearsals of singing and dancing, with the first six weeks dedicated to tap and ballroom dancing with Mandy Moore as choreographer.  She is not afraid of taking risks or challenges given to her by La La Land’s director Damien Chazelle and is likely to be around for years to come.

Isabelle Huppert, this year’s Golden Globe Award winner for Best Actress in a Drama, has the best outside chance to beat Stone for the French language film, “Elle”.  She has been finally recognized by the Academy, but she, like Meryl Streep, has been churning out standout performances throughout her entire forty-year career, but mainly in Europe.  She deserves more of a Lifetime Achievement Award, but at least she will be honored with her first nomination for her daring portrayal in Paul Verhoeven’s powerful “rape revenge” film.

Meryl Streep, nominated again this year for a record breaking 20th time in the title role of “Florence Foster Jenkins”. It could possibly be the world’s greatest actress playing the world’s worst opera singer. It’s too easy to break records when you’re Meryl Streep.  It’s also easy to want to break records if you have the name Florence Foster Jenkins on them. Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy in “Jackie” and Ruth Negga’s “Loving”, also give strong impressive performances, but are unlikely to take the gold, as the voters didn’t quite give enough “loving” to those respective films.

Prediction: Emma Stone

Moonlight

Alex Hibbert and Mahershala Ali in MOONLIGHT Credit: Photo by David Bornfriend, courtesy of A24

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

The indie film, Moonlight was a perfect vehicle and just in time for the “diversity” issue to kick in.  Writer, director, Barry Jenkins put together a near perfect film with an amazing ensemble of acting from the entire cast which took the Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast this year.  The heart of that ensemble belonged to Mahershala Ali, who plays a smart street drug-dealer who tries to shape the life of a neglected boy (Alex Hibbert) who belongs to a crack addicted mother. A heart wrenching performance.

As good as the other four nominees are, they are no match for Ali.

Prediction: Mahershala Ali

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Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson and Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson in Fences from Paramount Pictures.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Viola Davis, “Fences”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”

Make note that this category has nominated a record three black actresses, creating Oscar history:  Viola Davis in “Fences”, Naomie Harris in “Moonlight” and Octavia Spencer in “Hidden Figures”.  Michelle Williams in “Manchester By the Sea” and Nicole Kidman’s “Lion” round out the impressive list of performances by a supporting actress.  As good as they all were, three-time nominee, Viola Davis is way long overdue to be awarded by the Academy.  Sharing scenes with Denzel along with the rest of the original 2010 Broadway cast just makes her shine even more, especially since she knows that role inside out after playing it on Broadway.  Where the other nominees were impressive, Davis was just downright phenomenal.

Prediction: Viola Davis

NOTES OF INTEREST:

Look for the Academy to give possibly give a second Oscar to Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, for “The Salesman” for Best Foreign Language Film, who will not be able to pick up the award due to Trump’s Visa ban, if he wins.  It would be interesting to see if there will be a platform to speak out politically, as I am sure the stage will be set for may who choose to do so.  Especially with diversity as the theme of the evening.

32 year old, Damien Chazelle, will be the youngest director to ever win the Academy Award for “La La Land”.

 

AND THE REST OF THEM:

  1. Best Picture: La La land
  2. Actor in a Leading Role: Denzel Washington – Fences
  3. Actress in a Leading Role: Emma Stone – La La Land
  4. Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
  5. Actress in a Supporting Role: Viola Davis – Fences
  6. Directing: Damien Chazelle – La La Land
  7. Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight – Barry Jenkins
  8. Writing (Original Screenplay) – Manchester by the Sea
  9. Cinematography: Linus Sandgren – La La Land
  10. Costume Design: Madeline Fontaine – Jackie
  11. Sound Mixing – Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, Steven Morrow – La La Land
  12. Film Editing: Tom Cross – La La Land
  13. Sound Editing: Robert Mackenzie, Andy Wright – Hacksaw Ridge
  14. Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
  15. Makeup and Hairstyling: Star Trek Beyond
  16. Music (Original Song) – Justin Hurwitz – City of Stars
  17. Music (Original Score) – Justin Hurwitz – La La Land
  18. Short Film (Animated) – Piper
  19. Short Film (Live Action) – Ennemis Interieurs
  20. Documentary Short Subject: Joe’s Violin
  21. Documentary Feature: O.J. Made in America
  22. Foreign Language Film: The Salesman
  23. Animated Feature Film: Zootopia
  24. Production Design: La La Land

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RSA CONFERENCE 2017 COMES TO A CLOSE WITH RECORD ATTENDANCE: THE POWER OF OPPORTUNITY EVIDENT

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The busy North Expo was extremely busy at the Moscone Center in San Francisco for this years RSA Conference.  Photo by Marcus Siu.

Photos and slideshow by Marcus Siu

Yesterday, the RSA Conference 2017 USA, the world’s leading cyber-security event held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco came to a close.  There was a record number 43,000 attendees that participated in the annual event.

Experts in the field of  cyber-security came from industry and government from all around the globe.  Peers networking with the brightest minds and learning from the best.  There were over 15 Keynote speakers, over 500 sessions, and over 550 companies on the Expo floor.

Even though the Keynote venues were filled to capacity extremely early, the organizers were able to accommodate the overflow crowd by setting up projection screens just right outside the main hall where the keynotes were at.

The power of opportunity was evident all around the conference, as it was definitely the place to embrace the opportunities from every standpoint, including professional development, moving the industry forward, and uniting as a community for those in the field.

Here is a slideshow that I put together mainly of the expo floor.

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The following is a press release from RSA.

SAN FRANCISCO – February 17, 2017 – RSA Conference, the world’s leading information security conferences and expositions, today concluded its 26th annual event in San Francisco. A record number of more than 43,000 attendees experienced keynotes, peer-to-peer sessions, track sessions, tutorials and seminars.

“Leading up to RSA Conference 2017 it could have been argued that this event was the most anticipated in our history,” said Linda Gray Martin, Director & General Manager of RSA Conference. “Over the last few months information security has experienced both tremendous highs, and weathered scrutiny of lows as experts in private and public sectors debated various practices of information sharing. As a result of this increased exposure, it was critical to have an RSA Conference full of constructive dialog, discussion and debate that will form the information security agenda and continue to move our industry forward. We hope our attendees took this powerful opportunity as the chance to help forge a future we can all be proud of.”

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Outside on Fifth and Mission in San Francisco.  Photo by Marcus Siu.

RSA Conference 2017 highlights include:

  • RSA Conference 2017 featured 15 keynote presentations, more than 700 speakers across 500+ sessions and more than 550 companies on the expo floors.
  • Hot session presentations included:
    • Changing Behaviors At Enterprise-Scale; Simon Hodgkinson, Chief Information Security Officer, BP; Christine Maxwell, Governance, Risk & Compliance Director, BP
    • Cloud Assessments: You’re Doing It Wrong!; Bill Burns,Chief Trust Officer, VP Business Transformation; Informatica LLC; Trey Ford, Head of Trust, Heroku, a Salesforce company; Cory Scott, Chief Information Security Officer, LinkedIn; Jim Trovato, Sr. Director, IT Governance Risk and Compliance, Informatica LLC
    • Hacker’s Perspective on your Windows Infrastructure: Mandatory Check List; Paula Januszkiewicz, CEO, Security Expert, Penetration Tester & Trainer, MVP, CQURE
    • How Google Protects Its Corporate Security Perimeter Without Firewalls; Heather Adkins, Director of Information Security, Google, and Rory Ward, Site Reliability Engineering Manager, Google
    • How to Catch A Snowden; Chris Inglis, Advisory Board Chair, Securonix
  • UnifyID was named “RSA Conference 2017’s Most Innovative Startup” by the Innovation Sandbox’s judges’ panel comprised of technology, venture and security industry thought leaders.
  • RSA Conference reached broader audiences with a new series of educational programs that teaches cyber-awareness for children, provides outreach to college students to introduce and encourage a career in information security, and supports education throughout the various stages of a career within the industry. RSAC AdvancedU includes the following:
    • RSAC CyberSafety Initiative: 1,300 attendees filled the Cyber Safety Village in Moscone West throughout the week to learn more about the issues children and teens are experiencing online including topics such as emotional responses to social media, sexting, impact on sleep and how to manage online reputations.
    • RSAC Security Scholar program: RSA Conference Security Scholar connects the brightest up-and-coming cybersecurity students to leading experts, peers and conference attendees. As the program enters its second year, RSA Conference expanded to include more than 20 schools and 60 students.
    • RSAC College Day: RSA Conference created College Day to help students find their ideal career options through meeting both industry veterans and companies that are looking for young, talented students to join their ranks. This year 60 students had access to more than 50 sessions, a day in the life of a security expert panel, and met with sponsors during an open house that was attended by more than 600 attendees.

The 20th Annual RSA Conference Awards program highlighted the work of three security professionals in the fields of mathematics, public policy and security practices. This year’s winners included:

  • Howard Schmidt, Former White House Cybersecurity Advisor– Excellence in the Field of Information Security
  • Dr. Tatsuaki Okamoto, NTT Fellow – Excellence in the Field of Mathematics
  • The Honorable Michael McCaul, Chairman, U.S. House of Representatives, Homeland Security Committee – Excellence in the Field of Public Policy

RSAC Unplugged London will take place on June 8, 2017. RSA Conference 2017 Asia Pacific & Japan takes place July 26-28, 2017 in Singapore. Additionally, RSA Conference returns to Abu Dhabi November 7-8, 2017. RSA Conference 2018 takes place April 16-20, 2018 in San Francisco.

EXHIBITOR QUOTES

“Security is Cisco’s top priority and an essential part of every product that we build. We are always excited to be at the RSA conference. Engaging with the smartest infosec professionals from our customers, partners and the community provides us with important input into our strategy and roadmaps. The increasing size of this event illustrates the growing importance and investment that every company is making in information security. And that is good for us all.”
– Jeff Samuels, VP Security Marketing, Cisco.

RSA Conference 2017 brought together the business and government community at the forefront of the dramatic changes reshaping cybersecurity.  This year’s conference provided a valuable backdrop for us to discuss critical issues like the need for new approaches to endpoint protection, and the challenge of eliminating the cost and complexity of security operations.  FireEye places a high priority on threat intelligence and the insights learned on the frontlines of today’s cyber breaches, and RSA Conference 2017 reflected the defining developments we see emerging from the continually evolving threat landscape.
– Kara Wilson, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, FireEye

“This year’s RSA Conference challenged a big industry audience to think small. Small are the attack surfaces of security cameras, home routers, and mobile devices increasingly populating our office and home work environments. Small are the diverse data transactions that require innumerable protective measures. Big are the shifts in thinking that require us to think of ourselves as small players inside a vast ecosystem of solution providers. Thinking small is the first step in working together more effectively, and having a big impact with better outcomes.”
– Chris Young, General Manager and SVP, Intel Security  

“Security is a team sport. Splunk customers want solutions that work together in a coordinated and automated manner, using data, analytics, next generation firewalls, threat intelligence and other technologies to defend and protect against threats in real-time. We clearly saw at RSA Conference 2017 that the industry is moving in this direction. We heard repeatedly this year how emerging threats are disrupting and negatively impacting businesses across the globe, but the spirit of collaboration, powered by industry advancements in analytics and orchestration, were on full display at RSA.”
– Haiyan Song, Senior Vice President of Security Markets, Splunk

“In 2017 we continue to see a wide variety of attack types, yet many teams out there tell us they lack the proper tools or skills to address threats comprehensively. RSAC 2017 provided a valuable platform for the infosec community to come together and share ideas on how to pragmatically reduce risk for our organizations. With so many considerations – regulatory compliance, cloud, industrial OT environments – one message came through clearly: foundational security controls are more important than ever to establish resilient Infosec capabilities that deliver effective security regardless of what comes at you.”
– Dwayne Melancon, Vice President of Products, Tripwire

RSA CONFERENCE ONLINE

– See more at: https://www.rsaconference.com/press/74/rsa-conference-2017-closes-with-record-attendance#sthash.vXUHliiu.dpuf

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LG ELECTRONICS EARNS ‘BEST OF THE BEST’ CES 2017 HONORS FOR LG SIGNATURE SERIES W7 ‘WALLPAPER’ TV

Technology Leader Receives More Than 120 CES Awards & Honors

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 8, 2017 – LG Electronics (LG) won more than 120 awards at CES® 2017, leading the way with the coveted, official Engadget CES Best of the Best Awards, for LG’s revolutionary new LG SIGNATURE W7 OLED 4K TV complemented by a variety of best-of-show honors for the W7 and LG Smart InstaView™ refrigerator.

LG was the recipient of top accolades from Better Homes and Gardens, Men’s Health, The Verge and Reviewed.com, amongst others, adding to the 21 CES Innovation Awards from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA™) across home appliance, home entertainment and mobile communications categories.

“We are constantly striving to deliver value to our customers, so it’s a tremendous honor to see our W7 Wallpaper TV named one of the most awarded products at this year’s CES,” said William Cho, president and CEO, LG Electronics USA. “From seemingly impossibly thin televisions to reimagined refrigerators and wearable surround sound, we’ve challenged ourselves and have been able to deliver products that will set the standard for the industry this year.”

LG unveiled brand new LG SIGNATURE products at CES 2017, including the LG SIGNATURE OLED TV W-series which leads wins with over 40 awards, employing a show stopping, entirely new Picture-on-Wall design. The LG Smart InstaView refrigerator followed in award wins, featuring a 29-inch touch LCD display, Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service and a host of WiFi-enabled features.

Awards earned by LG at CES 2017 include:

LG SIGNATURE W7 OLED TV: Engadget Best of CES: Best of the Best, Engadget Best of CES: Best TV Product, Expert Reviews CES Top Picks: Best TV, Men’s Health Editors’ Choice Awards, TechRadar’s 2017 CES Awards: Best in Show, The Verge: Best TV, Advertising Age Best of CES, BGR Best of CES, CNET Best of CES 2017: The Best Thing We Saw, Pocket-Lint: Best TVs of CES, CNN Money Coolest Tech Products at CES, Dealerscope Best of CES, FOX News 10 Best Gadgets at CES, PCMag Best of CES: Best Television, Popular Mechanics Best of/Editors’ Choice CES Awards, Reviewed.com CES Editor’s Choice Winners, SlashGear: Best of CES, Sound & Vision/What Hi-Fi Stars of CES, Stuff Magazine Best TVs of CES 2017, Tech50+: Televisions, Techlicious CES Top Picks, TechnoBuffalo Reader’s Choice Awards, TechRadar’s 2017 CES Awards: Best TV, AVS Forum Best New Products of CES 2017, Tom’s Guide Best of CES, Tweaktown Best of CES, TWICE Picks Awards: Video & TVs, T3 12 Best Gadgets We’ve Seen at CES, UberGizmo Best of CES, 9to5Toys Best of CES, CBS Favorite TVs of CES, Computer Bild CES Best Products, Fossbytes Best Products of CES, GQ Best Things at CES, HD Guru CES Top Picks, Interesting Engineering Technology’s Best, Brightest and Coolest From CES, Mashable Best Tech of CES, Mobile & Apps Top 10 Innovative Products at CES, News18 Best of CES 2017, Economic Times Best of CES, Paste Magazine: 5 Best TVs of CES, PC Quest Best of CES, TechBeasts Awesome Tech Revealed at CES 2017, Tech Goondu Best of CES, Tech Spot Best of CES, TIME Coolest Gadgets from CES, Wall Street Journal Best of CES, I4U Best TVs of CES, ETFM CES Best of the Best

LG Smart InstaView Refrigerator: Expert Reviews CES Top Picks: Best Home Appliance, Reviewed.com CES Editors’ Choice Winners, Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Home Appliances, Stuff Magazine 9 Best Gadgets with Amazon’s Voice Assistant, Tech50+: Home Appliances, Techlicious CES Top Picks, TechnoBuffalo Reader’s Choice Awards, TechRadar’s 2017 CES Awards Best In-Home Gizmo, Tom’s Guide Best of CES, Mansion Global Best of CES, TechBeasts Awesome Tech Revealed at CES 2017

LG Hub Robot: SlashGear: Best of CES, WIRED Best of CES, The Verge: Best Robot,
The Telegraph Best Tech of the Week, Stuff Magazine 9 Best Gadgets with Amazon’s Voice Assistant, Chip Chick Best of CES, D’Marge Best of CES, GearBrain Best of CES, Mirror Best ‘Smart Home’ Robots of CES

LG Gram 14: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Computer Peripherals, Engadget: Best of CES: Best PC Finalist, MSPoweruser Best Windows Devices to Come Out of CES, Houston Chronicle Coolest Products at CES

LG Gram 15.6: Thurrott Best of CES

LG SJ9 Sound Bar: Pocket-Lint Best Headphones and Speakers at CES, Tech50+: Sound Bars, TechRadar’s 2017 CES Awards: Best Audio Accessory

LG SJ7 Sound Bar: ETFM Best Home Entertainment

LG Multi-Functional Bluetooth Speaker: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Portable Media Players and Accessories

LG Probeam: The Verge: Best Projector, Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Home Audio/Video Components and Accessories

LG SIGNATURE TWINWash Front-Load Washer and Dryer Pair: Better Homes and Gardens CES Editors’ Choice 2017 Innovation Awards, Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Home Appliances, TWICE Picks Awards: Major Appliances

LG 4-Door Refrigerator Door-in-Door, Dual View Camera: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Home Appliances

LG SIGNATURE Dishwasher: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Home Appliances

LG HOM-BOT Network Water Mop: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Smart Home

LG CordZero Stick Vacuum: Reviewed.com CES Editors’ Choice Winners

LG PJ9: ZDNet: Best Smartphones, IoT Products at CES, Tech Times Best Smart Home Gadgets at CES

LG Airport Guide Robot: Advertising Age Best of CES

LG Sidekick: Dealerscope Best of CES

LG SIGNATURE OLED 65 G6: Tech50+ Boomie Awards: Best Television of the Year

LG Nano Cell TV: ZDNet Best of CES

LG Air Purifier PuriCare 360: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Home Appliances, TWICE Picks Awards: Connected Home Devices

LG Super UHD TVs: Pocket-Lint: Best TVs of CES

LG Display 55-inch Transparent TV: Chip Chick Best of CES, Mashable Best Tech of CES 2017

LG 65-inch B7 4K OLED TV: The Wall Street Journal Best of CES, Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Video Displays, Digital Entertainment Group Awards: Best 4K Ultra HD TV

LG Flat 65-inch Super UHD 4K TV: TWICE Picks Awards: Connected Home Devices, Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Home Appliances

LG 65-inch 4K OLED TV: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Video Displays

LG 65-inch E7 OLED 4K TV: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Video Displays

LG 65-inch 4K LED TV with Advanced Accessibility Technologies: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Video Displays, TWICE Picks Awards: Video & TVs, Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Video Displays: Tech for a better world

LG 65-inch B7 4K OLED TV with Advanced Accessibility Technologies: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Tech for a better world

LG 75-inch 4K ULTRA HD LED TV: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Eco-Design and Sustainable Technologies

LG 31.5’’ 4-side Borderless UHD 4K HDR Monitor: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Computer Peripherals

LG Styler: Architectural Record Best in Category

LG 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Player: HD Guru CES Top Picks

LG K8™: TWICE Picks Awards: Smartphones & Tablets

LG V20™: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Wireless Handsets

LG G5: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Wireless Handsets

LG FORCE: TWICE Picks Awards: Accessories

LG TONE Active+™: Consumer Technology Association 2017 CES Innovation Awards: Headphones

LG Wireless Mouse: PC Pro Best of CES

LG32UD99 Monitor: PC Pro Best of CES

LG ELECTRONICS: SMM Electronics Challenge Awards

For more information about LG’s products at CES 2017, please visit http://ces2017.LGnewsroom.com/.

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ASKING SANTA FOR A NEW HOME ENTERTAINMENT CENTER – AT PEPCOM’S HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR SHOW!

Greetings to the Holiday Spectacular, hosted by Pepcom in San Francisco at the Metreon, where journalists and leading technology companies hit "Tini's in Tinseltown. Photo by Marcus Siu

Greetings to the Holiday Spectacular, hosted by Pepcom in San Francisco at the Metreon, where journalists and leading technology companies hit Tinseltown. Photo by Marcus Siu

Article and photos by Marcus Siu

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – DECEMBER 10, 2016:  Every time I attend the Pepcom media event show, it always feels like Christmas, regardless of what time of the year it actually is.  Their Holiday Spectacular’s “Tinsel & ‘Tini’s” show they hosted at the end of October at the San Francisco Metreon’s City View was certainly no exception, as it was a perfect festive kickoff into the holiday season.

A fun time was had by all, as the latest products received full attention at the booths with media surrounding the company reps on the show floor, inquiring about the latest wares and gadgets.

Wonderful food was served throughout the evening such as dim sum, fajitas, and carved roast beef with a grand assortment of organic veggies, cocktails, such as Lemon Drop Martinis, wine and beer.  It definitely encouraged a fun atmosphere with informative conversation with the more than fifty or so companies that came, along with their representatives ,that presented their products to the media, with well over hundreds of new products to show.

This year’s Pepcom festive show put me in the right frame of mind and mood, as it made me wonder what I would want from Santa this year, as if I was to build a brand new home entertainment center from scratch. Glancing at all the booths, like a kid in a candy store, it was pretty easy to choose and pick products that were on display that evening.

Here’s what I would ask Santa for Christmas.

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Dolby Laboratories made a rare appearance at the Pepcom Holiday Spectacular in San Francisco in late October to promote “Dolby Vision”. Photo by Marcus Siu.

DOLBY LABORATORIES

The first thing I would have Santa put in his sled is a brand new 4K LG OLED 65″ E6, with Dolby Vision.  Yes, your heard me right!  Dolby Vision.  Dolby Labs, known primarily for their patented sound technology, now has made a mark in what you see with their sound in consumer electronics.

Dolby Vision™ is advanced high dynamic range (HDR) and offers a multitude of benefits such as its astonishing brightness, deep darks, expanded contrast, ultra-vivid colors, refined detail, enhanced dimensionality.   In contrast, they make regular standard 4K HDTV’s with standard HDR look pale in comparison.

Dolby have incorporated “Dolby Vision” technology into a few 4K HDR Smart LED TV’s: The LG Super UHD ($1099-$7999) and OLED TV series, Models B6 ($2499-$3999) & E6 ($3499-4999), the Vizion M ($899-$3799) & P series ($699-3999).

Add to that, a Dolby Atmos soundbar found in the Samsung HW-K850 ($999), HW-950 ($1499), and the Yamaha YSP-5600 ($1599) (shown below) and you now have a home version of “Dolby Cinema”.

Sound has never truly looked better and sight has never sound like this clear.

I’ll have to ask Santa for the Yamaha YSP-5600 soundbar, as well to match the TV.

https://www.dolby.com/in/en/technologies/home/dolby-vision.html#4

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The LG Super UHD and OLED TV series, Models B6 & E6 (shown here) join the line that features Dolby Vision. Courtesy of Dolby Laboratories.

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Yamaha YSP-5600BL MusicCast Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos.  Courtesy of Dolby Laboratories

VIEWSONIC:

However, sometimes even a 65 inch screen doesn’t quite do it, regardless of how amazing the picture quality is.  A big epic like “Lawrence of Arabia” or “Titanic” was made to be seen on the big screen.  This is when we need a projector that can fill up the entire wall.

With the LS820 laser projector ($2999.99), ViewSonic delivers a Full HD 1080p, ultra-short throw projector for stunning home entertainment, this creates the perfect environment. The LS820 features a laser phosphor light source with Rec. 709 calibration for accurate color rendering. With the company’s proprietary SuperColor™ and SonicExpert® technologies, the LS820 delivers advanced color and enhanced sound reproduction, and 3500 lumens of brightness. This projector has a 0.25 ultra-short throw lens allowing it to be placed on your home entertainment stand just inches away from a wall or screen, and project an immersive image up to 150 inches. This projector offers up to 20,000 hours of operation, 100,000:1 contrast ratio, and PortAll® – a hidden MHL/HDMI port that discreetly streams multimedia content from a mobile device to the projector via a wireless dongle. Utilizing the latest laser light technology, the LS820 is virtually maintenance-free, providing years of in-home entertainment.

Unlike the traditional rear projector, it’s nice to know that the “child-like” audience members in the screening room will no longer be able to use their hands to create shadows of flying birds or barking dogs between the projector light and screen.  It’s also nice to know that there is no more danger of kicking or tripping over exposed cables.

Add this to the sled, too, Santa…

http://www.viewsonic.com/us/ls820.html

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No need to have to have the projector all the way back to the wall any longer. The ViewSonic projector is just inches from the screen and can project a 150′ image.   Photo by Marcus Siu.

PLEX:

After hooking up the TV or the projector, it would be wise to get some real entertainment to enjoy.  Since, I enjoy watching my own media, rather than live TV, I would add Plex into my Home Entertainment pyramid.  Plex lets you access your own media stored on your computer by connecting the Plex Media server, which can be installed on either your computer, NAS, or even router, so you can stream it to any of your devices that contain the Plex player app; be it your Smart TV, a tablet or a smartphone, regardless of where you are.

Your Plex media can be hand chosen from the media from your computer (photos, videos, movies and TV shows, etc).  You have total control of what to put into the server;  any media that is stored on your hard drive.

You can also share them with friends or family who are also Plex users and everyone can give each other access to their collections, as well.

Plex organizes your entire media collection through a simple interface and enhances it with descriptions, plot summaries, film posters and more.  Their tagging software gathers all the pertinent information on the server such as the movie studios graphics and credits, or photos tags with the shooting information of your photos, so you can easily navigate instead of squinting to read your files.

Even Santa could enjoy Plex on his tablet or smartphone, if he or any of his reindeer need a break.  I still believe there are animal cruelty laws against reindeers not taking a break.

https://www.plex.tv/

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Access your media files anywhere from your computer, tablet, or smartphone, regardless where you are with the help of Plex. Photo by Marcus Siu

WESTERN DIGITAL:

Unfortunately, having your own media means needing lots of storage to put them on, and with HD and 4K video becoming more commonplace for video enthusiasts and filmmakers, the need for more storage continues to climb at record rates.   Luckily storage prices have been dramatically decreasing over the years, where as the capacity of hard drives have been going up.  3TB and 4TB drives are now becoming typical and more affordable as time goes on.

Even with the new re imagined designed change this year on their My Passports, Western Digital has been consistently producing the most reliable hard drives over the years, and I would prefer to stick with them, especially with their 3 year warranty.  As well as the auto-backup featured on My Passports, it’s password protection has a built-in 256-bit AES Hardware Encryption to keep your files safe, in case you need it.

List prices for the 3TB & 4TB drives are $119.99 & $139.99.

These would be perfect stocking stuffers.

https://www.wdc.com/products/portable-storage/my-passport.html

LINKSYS:

With all this media, one would need a top of the line router that can handle 4K streaming and HD video with ease, especially with multiple users and devices around the home.

The Linksys Max-Stream AC5400  MU-MIMO Gigabit Wi-Fi Router (EA9500) is powered by a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor and delivers speeds up to 5.3 Gbps through Wi-Fi.  MU-MIMO stands for Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output) technology.  It provides Next-Gen Wi-Fi AC technology capable of handling multiple simultaneous data streams to multiple screens and Wi-Fi devices without lag or buffering.

In other words, this router would be perfect for 4kTV streaming and online multiplayer gaming and when multiple devices are being used, as it has 8 Gigabit ethernet ports. ($349.99)

Santa, “I think we’re gonna need a bigger sled”.

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This Linksys EA9500 is truly a monster in a box.    Photo by Marcus Siu.

http://www.linksys.com/us/p/P-EA9500/

Happy holidays!

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Augmented Reality and Smartglasses Leader Osterhout Design Group Closes $58 Million Series A Funding – Largest Series A in Wearables, Augmented and Virtual Reality Sectors

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San Francisco, CA – 5am PT/8am ET, December 1, 2016Osterhout Design Group (ODG), leading developer and manufacturer of mobile AR/VR smartglasses, today announced the closing of a $58 million Series A funding round. Shenzhen O-film Tech Co., Ltd., Vanfund Urban Investment & Development Co. Ltd. and several individual investors participated in the round alongside principal outside investor and strategic partner 21st Century Fox, previously announced in January 2016.  ODG will use the funds to accelerate its existing production capabilities, complete its new products, which will be introduced at CES ‘17, expand its patent portfolio and significantly grow its team worldwide.

“For eight years, we’ve taken a very systematic approach to designing and refining our smartglasses for specific applications from the US government, industry and enterprise customers in a wide variety of markets, and that will not change,” said Ralph Osterhout, CEO of ODG.  “We carefully picked investment partners who not only share ODG’s product vision and growth strategy, but also have the reputation and reach to expand ODG’s global presence and market recognition.”

Continued Osterhout, “People are realizing the potential for mass adoption of high-end mobile devices with the power to transform and simplify their lives.  This funding round, our first ever, ensures we are well positioned to introduce our latest designs at CES ‘17, which will likely form the largest category of smartglasses worldwide.”

ODG has been pioneering the next generation mobile computing platform and bringing forth a new frontier in visual experiences with its smartglasses.  Already award winning, the Company continues to push the boundaries with AR/VR ‘mixed reality’ and mobile technologies.  Shipping to specialized customers since 2011, ODG has seen rapidly growing demand from a broad base of industries for its fully self-contained, computerized glasses with their photo-realistic, “see-through”, 3D displays. All of its models are fully integrated, small, light and sleek.  Their onboard GPS/IMU-based navigation gives users the ability to experience telepresence, tele-maintenance and tele-repair everywhere.  ODG will continue to refine and advance its technology and will transform the way we create, view and consume content in a form with the familiar size and comfort of sunglasses.

Moelis & Company LLC acted as financial advisor to the Company in connection with the transaction.

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