DMA TECH WATCH: Siri Learns Baseball, Tesla Drops the Model 3 & More

By Phill Powell

Welcome to DMA Tech Watch, where we review the biggest news events and tech trends now on the radar. Here’s what we’re watching as of April 4, 2016:

APPLE SPACESHIP: LATEST DRONE VIEWS!


In 2017, Apple will move to its new “spaceship” headquarters, already one of the most famous corporate buildings ever.

It’s been in the works for years, but we’ve never seen it looking this assembled before. New drone video footage (captured by Duncan Sinfield) shows the huge circular building Apple is building to replace its historic Cupertino, Calif. location.

Work is continuing on schedule and the company plans to move into its new digs sometime next year.

In other news, it seems like only yesterday that the FBI was demanding that Apple create a “back door” for its iPhones. Now, it’s Apple’s turn to demand.

Since the FBI withdrew its demands for Apple’s assistance in the recent encryption standoff, Apple is now looking for legal ways to force the government to reveal how government-hired hackers were able to breach the phone’s security protocols.

One report claims government hackers found a way to avoid the limited number of times a security code can be entered for an iPhone.

TESLA: THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM

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A completely glass sky roof is only one of the Model 3’s impressive new features.

Tesla Motors, Elon Musk’s progressive automobile company, finally showed off its upcoming Model 3 at a press event in Hawthorne, Calif., on Friday, February 1st.

While Tesla’s previous vehicles have definitely been “luxury class” with price tags approaching $100K, the Model 3 is intended for a wider audience, with a significantly scaled-down cost of $35,000.

Although the car’s price will be reduced, its performance will not. The Model 3 will still zoom from 0 to 60 in under 6 seconds and still be able to travel 215 miles on a single charge. The car – Tesla’s “sedan for the masses” – was designed to hold five adults comfortably.

At the unveiling, Musk pledged that the Model 3 will carry the highest safety ratings in all pertinent categories – a significant claim that speaks to the total design Tesla has pursued in its advanced engineering.

The Model 3 won’t be ready to be shipped out until the end of next year, but that hasn’t stopped whopping numbers of pre-orders from already being taken. At the beginning of Friday’s event, some 115,000 people had pre-ordered a Model 3.

By the end of that event, the number had swelled to 150,000. Approximately 35,000 people pre-ordered the car during the event. Tesla will be heavily promoting the car around the world, with a definite push toward expanding foreign markets.

THE NEW QUEEN OF BASEBALL STATS: SIRI

Siri_baseball_stats
With information about 29 different leagues, Siri’s definitely ready for baseball season.

You knew she was handy at finding you the best-tasting bagel within a five-mile radius, but now Apple’s Siri will play a new role – as an encyclopedic storehouse of data about the “national pastime” (i.e., baseball).

Just in time for the 2016 Major League Baseball season, Apple has programmed Siri with enough baseball stats to settle any data debate between baseball fans, who are known for their ability to toss around stats with ease.

And Apple didn’t just fill Siri’s head with arcane facts and figures about MLB. To varying degrees, she supports data from 29 different baseball leagues, including foreign leagues, such as Nippon Pro Baseball. (Baseball is huge in Japan.)

Baseball-genius Siri is already loaded onto your iPhone. Go ahead and try to stump her! (She’s one smart app!)

COOL UPCOMING TECH EVENTS

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NAB 2016 will even feature sessions dedicated to capturing video footage with drones!

Consider this your official heads-up about two really cool upcoming events, which we’ll be attending! Both begin next weekend. First up: the USA Science & Engineering Festival (held on April 15-17), which takes place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. More than 3,000 organizations will be represented at the festival, and topics will include aerospace, nano-technology, biomedical sciences, oceanography and chemical engineering.

This is the fourth annual event, which bills itself as the “largest and only national science festival.” Look for big attendance, with more than 350,000 visitors expected. There’s an X-STEM symposium and loads of mind-blowing exhibits and cool contests. It’s a great event, and one that brings together the best scientists and engineers from around the country in order to encourage youth to pursue careers in STEM-related fields.

DMA will be conducting hands-on demos for 3D Design, Maya game design (Maya) and Java programming. We will also have an Oculus Rift demo for attendees. And while the show is open to the public that Saturday and Sunday, on next Friday, April 15 (between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.) a special sneak peek will be held for high school students, teachers and government workers in the D.C. area.

That same weekend, a crew from Digital Media Academy will be attending the National Association of Broadcasters mega-tradeshow at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The show begins on April 16 and it’s always one of the biggest shows of the year, where visitors can see the movie and TV content that’s still on the horizon.

This year’s show also includes sessions on new technology and how it’s being used, such as drone videography. Look for upcoming reports next week on both events here at the DMA blog!

APRIL FOOL’S DAY PRANKS: WINNERS & LOSERS


Best April Fool’s Prank 2016: Netflix’ mock feud with an “angry” John Stamos (who makes a cameo).

It was called Gmail MicDrop and while it was supposed to amuse and maybe trick a few users, it completely blew up in Google’s face this past Friday.

Google’s move was to announce a cool feature called Gmail MicDrop, which let users “get the last word” in any running conversation by dropping a Minion GIF into the thread, which then terminated that conversation, along with any subsequent replies that might be made in the thread. (In other words, like you were dropping the microphone and marching off the stage.)

It’s a funny idea, but the joke’s execution failed. For many regular users, the new “MicDrop” button was placed on screen in a place normally used for the “Send and Archive” button, causing them to accidentally terminate many conversational threads without a second thought.

“Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year,” Google stated after the fact. “Due to a bug, the MicDrop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry.”

On the other side of the coin, Netflix pulled off a pretty good gotcha with the cooperation of TV sitcom institution John Stamos (Full House, Grandfathered). First, it looked like Netflix was issuing a mock announcement sarcastically pretending to chronicle Stamos’ life in a documentary.

Then “hidden footage” was blasted out across the internet, showing an enraged Stamos actually showing up at Netflix offices and demanding to see company higher-ups.

Then came a supposed apology video from Netflix, showing an apologetic Ted Sarandos (Netflix Chief Content Officer) voicing enormous respect for the TV star (who stands behind him all the while, still looking pretty steamed). Funny stuff and well played!

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