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With Nvidia Eye Contact, you’ll never look away from a camera again

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Nvidia's Eye Contact feature automatically maintains eye contact with a camera for you.

Enlarge / Nvidia's Eye Contact feature automatically maintains eye contact with a camera for you. (credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia recently released a beta version of Eye Contact, an AI-powered software video feature that automatically maintains eye contact for you while on-camera by estimating and aligning gaze. It ships with the 1.4 version of its Broadcast app, and the company is seeking feedback on how to improve it. In some ways, the tech may be too good because it never breaks eye contact, which appears unnatural and creepy at times.

To achieve its effect, Eye Contact replaces your eyes in the video stream with software-controlled simulated eyeballs that always stare directly into the camera, even if you're looking away in real life. The fake eyes attempt to replicate your natural eye color, and they even blink when you do.

So far, the response to Nvidia's new feature on social media has been largely negative. "I too, have always wanted streamers to maintain a terrifying level of unbroken eye contact while reading text that obviously isn't displayed inside their webcams," wrote The D-Pad on Twitter.

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zipcube
3 days ago
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The DOJ sues Google for ad dominance, wants to break company up

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The logo for the board game Monopoly, complete with Uncle Pennybags, has been transformed to say Google.

Enlarge / Let's see, you landed on my "Google Ads" space, and with three houses... that will be $1,400. (credit: Ron Amadeo / Hasbro)

It's been expected for some time, but today the Justice Department and eight states are suing Google over its purported domination of the online advertising market. The government has a problem with Google's position in "ad tech," or the tools used to automatically match advertisers with website publishers. To solve it, apparently, the DOJ has told Google it's considering breaking the company up.

“Today’s complaint alleges that Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful conduct to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “No matter the industry and no matter the company, the Justice Department will vigorously enforce our antitrust laws to protect consumers, safeguard competition, and ensure economic fairness and opportunity for all.”

The press release gives a quick rundown of what the DOJ has a problem with:

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zipcube
3 days ago
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The state of Matter smart home gear, post-CES 2023

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Mui wooden board on a wall, with backlit icons underneath reaching hand

Enlarge / Mui Labs' Mui Board 2nd Gen embodies the loftiest promise of Matter: a wooden board, from a company you've likely never heard of, controlling devices made by many different companies, even if they're already connected to other apps. (credit: Mui)

First came the specification, then the release, and then CES 2023—it has been a busy few months for Matter, the smart home connectivity standard. You can't quite fill your home just yet with Matter-ready devices, but there are some intriguing options in development. Here's a look at some of the most practical, quirky, and viable gear coming soon (or soon-ish).

Some parts of Matter are already here

If you wanted to start your smart home off fresh this year with a focus on Matter-powered universal compatibility, you already have a couple pieces of the puzzle ready for you. Let's go bit by bit, starting with your phone.

Your phone, whether iOS or Android, can, right now, scan the QR code or read the Bluetooth signal of a Matter-certified device. Most platforms support adding devices to a controller through an Android app, but only Apple's HomeKit and Samsung's SmartThings have support for iOS device enrollment. Amazon has said it plans to add iOS enrollment for Thread-based devices this spring but already supports devices over Wi-Fi.

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zipcube
8 days ago
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Artists file class-action lawsuit against AI image generator companies

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A computer-generated gavel hovering over a laptop.

Enlarge / A computer-generated gavel hovers over a laptop. (credit: Getty Images)

Some artists have begun waging a legal fight against the alleged theft of billions of copyrighted images used to train AI art generators to reproduce unique styles without compensating artists or asking for consent.

A group of artists represented by the Joseph Saveri Law Firm has filed a US federal class-action lawsuit in San Francisco against AI-art companies Stability AI, Midjourney, and DeviantArt for alleged violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, violations of the right of publicity, and unlawful competition.

The artists taking action—Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, Karla Ortiz—"seek to end this blatant and enormous infringement of their rights before their professions are eliminated by a computer program powered entirely by their hard work," according to the official text of the complaint filed to the court.

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8 days ago
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Looming Twitter interest payment leaves Elon Musk with unpalatable options

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Enlarge / Elon Musk’s personal equity investment in Twitter of about $26bn would be effectively wiped out in the event of a bankruptcy. (credit: FT Montage/Bloomberg)

The bill for Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is coming due, with the billionaire facing unpalatable options on the company’s enormous debt pile, ranging from bankruptcy proceedings to another costly sale of Tesla shares.

Three people close to the entrepreneur’s buyout of Twitter said the first installment of interest payments related to $13 billion of debt he used to fund the takeover could be due as soon as the end of January. That debt means the company must pay about $1.5 billion in annual interest payments.

The Tesla and SpaceX chief financed his $44 billion deal to take Twitter private in October by securing the huge debt from a syndicate of banks led by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays and Mitsubishi. The $13 billion debt is held by Twitter at a corporate level, with no personal guarantee by Musk.

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8 days ago
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Google plans AirTag clone, will track devices with 3 billion Android phones

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Apple introduced AirTags alongside several different kinds of accessories to enhance their flair and attach-ability.

Enlarge / Apple introduced AirTags alongside several different kinds of accessories to enhance their flair and attach-ability. (credit: Apple)

Following in the footsteps of Tile, Apple, and Samsung, it sounds like Google will be the latest Big-Tech company to make a Bluetooth tracker. Android researcher Kuba Wojciechowski has spotted code for a Google first-party Bluetooth tracker codenamed—just in time for The Mandalorian season 3—"Grogu."

Wojciechowski has found references that check nearly every major box you would want in a Bluetooth tracker. It has a speaker, UWB compatibility, and supports Bluetooth LE. Wojciechowski also notes it's being built by the Nest team. If you don't want the tracker to play a ringtone to reveal its location, UWB or "Ultra Wide Band" is a radio technology that can physically locate an item. You'll need UWB to be built into your phone, but it will let you find a nearby device via a compass-like interface. UWB has been built into the Pixel 6 Pro, 7 Pro, and other high-end Android devices, though it isn't used for much.

Another interesting wrinkle is that Esper's Mishaal Rahman recently posted about a "locator tag" option landing in Google's Fast Pair developer console. Fast Pair is Google's API for quickly detecting and pairing to nearby Bluetooth devices—it shows a pop-up on the screen rather than making people dig through the settings menu. Google's Fast Pair developer console is for third-party devices, though, so seeing a "locator tag" category pop up at the same time as Grogu would be an awfully big coincidence. It suggests that Google is planning to build a Bluetooth tracker ecosystem for Grogu and let third-party hardware join the party. Why else would it add Bluetooth tracker emulation options to its public developer tools? Google handles the Fast Pair functionality for the host OS (Android), so the dev console is only for third-party Bluetooth devices.

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