Valossa

Media Honeypot Shines a Light on European Media Start-Ups in Helsinki

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Heikki Rotko, founder and chairman of Media Honeypot (right), welcomes the crowd at Media Honeypot in Helsinki, as Janina Salo-Glasemann (center), CEO of Media Honeypot, and Ralph Simon (left), CEO of Mobilium Global, look on

The 3rd annual Media Honeypot Helsinki, the gathering of the European media start-up tribes, was another remarkable showing of the strength of media innovation in Europe. This year’s event, held on February 15th at the Crowne Plaza Helsinki, did much more than match the leading media companies in Europe with the leading media start-ups – it reinforced what many of us in the media and telecom industry have known for years: that Europe’s broadcasters are the most progressive in the world, and have been natural incubators for some of the most creative applications of media tech. With last year’s opening of Media City Bergen in Norway, there is much more activity on generating clearly defined start-ups that can address tomorrow’s needs for media companies.

Tomas Franzén, CEO of Bonnier, presents his keynote at Media Honeypot 2018

The Media Honeypot program – expertly curated by Janina Salo-Glasemann and her team – was emceed by the estimable Ralph Simon, whose bon mots in Finnish and Swedish brought more than a few chuckles from the crowd. Tomas Franzén, CEO of Bonnier, discussed how the company has managed to move into the digital space, while also nurturing a venture arm. He reminded the audience that, at its core, Bonnier’s chief job is to promote and protect democracy; a welcome message during these times. Moritz Holzgraefe, with Axel Springer, was one of several major publishers on the lookout for new startups; his company has certainly led the way in transforming a proud old publisher into a digital powerhouse. Laura Avonius, co-founder of Data Refinery, showed how her unit at Aller Media turned the company around by using its own data and spun it off as Data Refinery.

Laura Avonius (left), co-founder and CEO of Data Refinery, presents Data Refinery’s case for publishers

Anthony Herman, now heading up Amazon Web Services in the Nordics, discussed his background as a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and how that informs his current role. Trygve Refvem, head of MTG Ignite, discussed what a broadcast group looks for in start-up development.

Valerie Vlasenko, from Arctic Startup, introduces the pitching finalists at Media Honeypot

Yet, for all of the prescient case studies and presentations and discussions regarding the next step for European media companies and start-ups, the most impressive aspect of Media Honeypot was the line-up of companies participating in the event. Frankly, one would have been hard put to identify an event that could present the likes of what we saw at the Crowne Plaza Helsinki last Thursday. From Stream Time, developer of a true cross-service EPG to Bibblio, provider of a content relevance and recommendation platform to Adlaunch, creator of an AI-based ad creation platform, there was a surfeit of talent and vision to be matched with the right media company.

And, yes, the pitching competition presented five finalists – Cloudbounce, Utelly, Kieku, Bibblio and Valossa – that virtually advertised the event for anyone paying attention: the leading AI media start-ups are in Europe. Valossa convincingly won the pitching competition, with founder/CEO Mika Rautiainen giving a clear reason for why Valossa delivers value for media companies.

The winner of the Media Honeypot 2018 Pitching Competition was Valossa. Here are, from Valossa: Sami Niski (left), VP of Sales; Mika Rautiainen, founder/CEO (center), and Tommi Karjalainen (right), business development director

Mika Rautiainen, me, and Janina Salo-Glasemann, CEO of Media Honeypot

Heikki Rotko, founder of Media Honeypot, has built something that should only expand in the coming years, as more European broadcasters and publishers seek new revenue streams.

Heikki Rotko (left), with Trygve Refvem, head of MTG Ignite, at Media Honeypot 2018

CES 2018 Is AI Unleashed: Laying the Foundation for the The Next Big Thing

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The CES 2018 that has come and gone will be remembered less for the things that we build and think that we can control – namely, AI systems, robots, and high-resolution displays – than for yet another instance of Mother Nature interfering with our well-laid plans, in the form of more than one inch of rain on Day 1 of the great CES show (Las Vegas receives around 4 inches of rain in an average year, so the Great CES 2018 Deluge was almost one-third of the annual intake. Many Las Vegans were quick to pridefully point out that “we just had 170 consecutive days without rainfall!”). And, oh yes, we will remember CES 2018 for the lights going out on Day 2 of the show (I was giving an executive VIP tour in the Intel booth when the power hit occurred). This produced a 2-hour shutdown of the Central and North Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Somehow, we were given an indication of the things that we will soon be better prepared for – if only humans would listen.

But the humans were listening intently to the messages all over town during CES 2018: more autonomy; more AI; more machine learning. This may have been the year that it was clear how companies with well-developed, simply-focused point solutions could break through and show the way to not just new behaviors, but new industries. The big players – from Samsung to LG to Sony to Intel – were either moving in step to the trend, or were completely in thrall to the tune. CES acknowledged that the IoT and Smart Cities sectors were not just another way to bring in new crowds of well-funded companies, but a recognition of how the CE industry is now part of a larger industrial revolution, in which the device is – as we used to define it in telco speak – the “endpoint” on the greater network.

AR and VR were somewhat subdued at the show, even though HTC introduced its latest Vive headset with Wi-Gig, the Vive Pro, a nod to the emerging short-throw high-speed wireless transfer protocol as a way to untether headset wearers (getting the damn headset off their heads is the next step, but we’ll save that for another chat). But the likes of Vive and Oculus were not on the show floor, leaving more room for 3Drudder and others to show off new gear. CES Unveiled had its share of interesting start-ups, including Sniffy, a French platform for delivering fragrance on demand with touchscreens (see the demo at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dNPov0nsiA) and Bellus3D showed off its 3D face scanning camera for mobile devices.

Bellud3D shows off some face masks made with its 3D face scanning camera for mobile devices

Autostereoscopic 3D displays made a big move forward with streamTV Networks, which showed off a 65-inch 8 million pixel display that comfortably rendered 3D images from a safe distance.

streamTV Networks demonstrated an impressive 65-inch 3D auto stereoscopic display

When it came to AR and VR at the show, Intel made the most impressive statement, demonstrating its TrueVR to great effect, showcasing 360 real-time processing for sports venues as well as real-time streaming Web VR for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games. Intel announced that it was making yet another foray into Hollywood with the launch of an LA-based studio that will manage the back-end processing of the live streams. Intel also created a full VR replica of its CES booth, available for consumers to download as a full Unity experience for Vive. This was an amazing use of the venue and the technology, as viewers could even interact with Intel experts from Intel technology centers around the globe. Intel also showcased its work in the 5G arena, setting up a 5G network in its booth, courtesy of an Ericsson base station and Nokia repeaters. 5G was not as dominant a theme at the show this year, even though the year started with great optimism from carriers, notably Verizon, regarding their 5G trials in 2018.

Intel showed off more of its drone family, including the new Shooting Star drone, which is optimized for synchronized flights, such as the one that accompanied the Bellagio’s dancing water experience after Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s keynote address on Monday night. The Intel experience also included one of the coolest demos at the show, a real-time 3D facial effects demo from its Intel China lab, originally used to create effects for a popular Chinese singer’s performance. The demo, using a standard Logitech web camera with algorithmically derived real-time processing, produced vivid, engaging facial effects. Intel was one of many companies highlighting its AI efforts, with an “AI Tower” comprised of code-based images that triggered an AR demo, shown on a Surface Pro tablet, which detailed Intel AI projects, including a “snotbot” for tracking whales. Intel also surely won the “Great CES Blackout Entertainment Award,” when a violinist, Häana, who was part of a synchronized music and images performance strolled out to the stage and played a solo, proving that analog still rules (at least, in some instances).

Intel’s Mobileye demo of smart sensors for vehicles

The Intel Shooting Star drone, optimized for synchronized flying

Häana, violinist who played a solo in the dark during the Great CES Blackout, and her trio mates, at the Intel booth. See video of her solo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8JsMfnPOfc

The Intel “AI Tower,” with Aditi demonstrating the AR-driven experience showcasing different Intel AI projects

Intel’s real-time 3D facial effects demo. See video of the demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8JsMfnPOfc

AI at CES was mostly seen, in its most progressive form, in the North Hall – dubbed by some wags as “The Las Vegas International Auto Show” – but there were a number of leading AI companies conducting demos off the show floor, including Valossa (showing in the Sprockit Suite at the Cosmopolitan Hotel), which added new video insight features to what many in the industry consider to be the leading video AI platform.

Samsung’s CES presence was a radical departure from past years, for several reasons. For one, Samsung seems to have given up its annual tit-for-tat with its Korean arch-rival, LG and instead focused less on individual product lines and more on the underlying technology and platforms necessary to effect the smart home, or smart society. Samsung even highlighted some of its work in telematics, featuring an impressive OLED screen as a dashboard that could show video feeds from your Samsung refrigerator to indicate what food you need to buy on the way home. Samsung played up the number of partners now working with its SmartThings platform, and focused on its messaging capabilities for the SmartHub – even sending messages to the front screen on its latest refrigerator. The most impressive demos were saved for its display area, which did not showcase QLED TV products, but rather highlighted concepts, including a 146-inch 4K display, ‘The Wall,’ which is the world’s first modular screen. This was an amazing conceptual demonstration: tiled screens that can be modularized, and even display different resolutions. This could be a revolutionary way to deliver on-demand viewing experiences. Imagine if you wanted to see the news in a lower resolution than your favorite TV drama, or wanted to see a film letter-boxed. Screens could be modularized to accommodate larger viewing audiences, or to satisfy particular content resolutions.

‘The Wall’ at Samsung’s booth – a 146-inch display, the world’s first modular display

Samsung had a Video AI demo that showed some of the concepts on which it is working that hint at just these kinds of future product directions. Samsung, by the way, did not even try to outshine LG in the content display war. LG, which seemingly has won this battle for several years running now, continued to show incredible images in massive displays at the front of their booth.

LG wins the high-res display wall war, again, at CES 2018

One of the other major news stories at CES this year had more to do with something that did not happen than something that did. I am referring to Huawei’s thwarted press conference with AT&T to introduce the Mate 10 smartphone, which AT&T was planning to sell in the US, marking Huawei’s official US market introduction. The day before the scheduled event, AT&T announced that it was pulling out of the deal, no doubt receiving heavy pressure from Washington. This put the brakes on the Huawei keynote address by Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer products group, which saw him stumbling and mumbling his way through a lengthy sales pitch for the Mate 10. The phone itself is worth looking at (this was the “AI phone” that Huawei said it was working on last year), and breaks new ground in displaying relevant contextual content for users.

Set-up at the Huawei booth, which featured the ‘WOW WAY’ tagline

The Huawei booth at CES 2018. See demo of the Huawei Mate 10 smartphone here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGulQdjQwqw

The North Hall was all about enhanced features for autonomous vehicles (AVs), and aside from General Motors (who did not show, given that the Detroit International Auto Show was too close to CES this year), all the major auto manufacturers were on the floor. Delphi was back on the floor this year, after a foolish move at CES 2017 to draw traffic to a parking lot near the convention center. New faces, including Austin Electric Vehicles, were there as well.

Ford did not shine this year, even though their Smart City moving video wall was an impressive work of art. Mercedes-Benz outperformed. Their MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) platform showcased personalization as the hallmark of every car they will sell going forward. One cool feature was from a London start-up, What Three Words, which delivers a new kind of navigation system based on three-meter blocks being crushed into three-word addresses (like “dog.banana.fish”). This is, according to Mercedes-Benz, a more accurate way to deliver directions and locations than GPS addresses. Mercedes-Benz also showcased the Project 1, a 1000 horsepower engine futuristic vehicle that will sell in limited quantities for $3,000,000.

The Mercedes-Benz Project 1: a 1000-horse power engine and a $3 million price tag

Nissan showcased its b2v (brain-to-vehicle) system, which reads brain waves through headrest detectors to help deliver better predictive moves. Nvidia showed off its new AV processor, which is capable of 320 trillion operations per second.

The biggest splash on the CES car show floor was made by Chinese firm Byton, whose S.I.V. – Smart Intuitive Vehicle – was introduced at the show, marking only the second time that a car has been introduced at the show (two years ago, troubled Chinese firm Le Eco’s subsidiary Faraday Future introduced a car, which may never see a street, but – oh, what a buzz it was!). Byton’s vehicle will sell, according to its press release, in the US in 2020. Priced at $45,000, in the Tesla ballpark, the Byton vehicle has biometric sensors, AI, and a single screen dashboard, along with a tablet in the steering wheel.

Byton, a Chinese car company, introduced its S.I.V. – Smart Intuitive Vehicle, at CES 2018

Kia Motors showed off a personal assistant, and also touted what it calls the first in-vehicle 5G connection, showing a content stream from Seoul to Las Vegas, using the HECAS low-latency mobile video platform. Honda showed off its robotics, and no cars, further emphasizing their focus on CES as an opportunity to sign up OEM partners. Toyota won the cool concept car award this year, with the e-Palette, an autonomous delivery van with smart screens for digital signage. The boxy vehicle was an interesting design play, and was somewhat reminiscent of the Accessible Olli vehicle – the world’s most autonomous accessibility bus – that was on display in the Central Hall concourse of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Accessible Olli is already on the road, and is a joint venture between the CTA Foundation, IBM Watson and Knoxville, Tennessee-based Local Motors, which 3D-printed the vehicle. Accessible Olli fits up to 12 people, has smart screens, can determine if a passenger is blind, and has an ultrahaptic air button for signaling stops.

Accessible Olli – a smart, AI-powered autonomous accessibility bus

The e-Palette autonomous delivery van, a concept from Toyota

Nvidia introduced the first chip designed for AV use, capable of 320 trillion operations per second

Nissan unveiled its brain-to-vehicle (b2v) platform at CES 2018

Eureka Park this year was another strong showing by La French Tech, with about 350 French start-ups, almost half of all the start-ups in the area. There were many more clever IoT and mobile start-ups, as well as a smart musical ring, using MIDI, from Enhancia. My favorite Normandy start-up, Event Bots, was at the show, demonstrating their hospitality robots.

    

La French Tech was dominant at Eureka Park. Normandy start-up Event Bots was part of the massive French presence

The South Hall featured some new players, including Alibaba, which took over the South Hall Lower front booth. Alibaba’s presence reminded visitors of the strength of China’s companies at CES 2018. From TCL to Huawei to Baidu and Alibaba, Chinese technology was on display in great force. As a further example, Hi-Sense, which took over the Microsoft booth in the Central Hall, opposite Intel, a few years ago, showed a stunning laser TV product, which uses a short-throw laser projection system for high-resolution, large-screen displays. This is an astonishing change from just 8 years ago, when the only Chinese companies at CES were tucked away in a lackluster “China Pavilion” in the then-Las Vegas Hilton ballroom area. Now, they are a dominant presence.

Alibaba took over the South Hall lower level front booth this year

Other South Hall stops of note included gaming PC company Razer, who had their gaming tournament large keyboard on display. Speaking of gaming, Atari had a pong exhibit on the floor, creating great pangs of nostalgia for all.

Retro time meets Big Time: Atari Pong (left) and the Razer tournament gaming keyboard for e-sports

Last year’s CES was the “Alexa Show,” with Amazon’s intelligent assistant being shown in dozens of booths. This year, Google tried to step up to the plate, branding the Las Vegas Monorail with “Hey Google” and setting up numerous “Hey Google” signs in partner booths. A large Google Assistant pavilion in the Central Hall parking lot made its presence felt. They need it, of course; Amazon has about 70% of the smart speaker market to Google’s 23%, but many people would have argued that Amazon actually won this year’s battle, given that Alexa was still so prevalent. Cortana, Microsoft’s assistant, was virtually nowhere to be heard.

The Google Assistant pavilion in the Central Hall parking lot

What we have learned from CES 2018 is that more consumer choices will be made based on AI-powered devices or platforms and more products will highlight their AI or on-demand capabilities more than ever. It will be interesting to see how this trend translates into next year’s show, but it augurs a shift into the cloud in greater measures for the CE industry at large.

 

IBC Video Content Innovation Summit Kicks Off IBC 2017

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On the first morning of IBC 2017, Chris Pfaff Tech Media and Integer 1 hosted the IBC Video Content Innovation Summit at the Rockstart Accelerator in Amsterdam, which featured some of the leading innovators in the broadcast technology space today, including Vimond; Verizon envrmnt; HCL, and Valossa.

Emceed by Chris Pfaff, the breakfast event, held in the main event room at Rockstart, featured a technology keynote from Sanjay Macwan, focused on the shifting landscape for content distribution and consumption, and presented the audience of 55 producers, distributors, and vendors a view into where global content behaviors are headed. Macwan moderated a panel with Helge Hoibraaten, CEO of Vimond, Mika Rautiainen, CEO of Valossa, and Raheel Khalid, CTO of Verizon envrmnt (Kanwaldeep Kalsi, VP of Media for HCL, could not make the event, due to a delayed flight). The event literally presented some of the leading figures in OTT (Vimond), VR and AR (Verizon envrmnt), AI (Valossa), and cloud infrastructure (HCL).

Chris Pfaff emcees the IBC Video Content Innovation Summit

Sanjay Macwan, CEO of Integer 1, presents his keynote 

Sanjay gets into discussing the Muybridge experiment

Poster on front door of Rockstart Accelerator, Amsterdam

Raheel Khalid, CTO of Verizon envrmnt

Helge Hoibraaten, CEO of Vimond

Sanjay Macwan, left, and Mika Rautiainen, right

Long shot of the event room at Rockstart Accelerator

Sanjay poses a question to the panel

Raheel Khalid, Verizon envrmnt           Helge Hoibraaten, Vimond                   Mika Rautiainen, Valossa                     AI, OTT, and VR/AR all-stars

Highlights from the panel discussion included Helge’s discussion regarding content consumption (“we now have all the content we would ever want – in some ways, we don’t have to produce any more”) and content behaviors (“we interviewed teenagers about TV and they said ‘I have everything that I need in my phone'”). Raheel discussed the issue of every-cinreasing on -demand behaviors, in that people will “not wait for large files to download.” he said that Verizon envrmnt can now stream large-file content by taking game logic and running it on the fly. In this sense, VR and AR content is seamlessly distributed. He discussed Verizon envrmnt’s mobile edge compute strategy – which takes 20 milliseconds for a round trip. With 5G coming in, 1 gigabit bandwidth will enable VR content to be flawlessly streamed. Mika talked about the need to understand how video can be read and how machine learning can train to enable smarter questions around content itself.

See the promo highlight video at: https://youtu.be/lfZPjMLZa-w

The event was a swan song for Rockstart, as it was the last event in the main room at their 182 Herengracht location (they have since moved slightly north to a larger facility). But, it was a kickstart for IBC 2017, and in addition to a good meal, the crowd feasted on some hearty discussion.

 

Advertising Week TechX Brings the Fun to Ad-Tech

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The brainchild of VentureFuel and the Experiential Advertising Group, the Advertising Week New York 2017 TechX experience in Times Square, in a pop-up space between H&M and the NASDAQ MarketSite, curated some of the hippest tech for the ad world, from September 25-28. From digital art projects to AR apps to VR tools and holographic displays, the TechX arena offered a wide palette of commercially available experiences for attendees – creatives and media buyers – to play with and understand.

Ryan Hilla demonstrates Verizon envrmnt’s AR activation for Time Inc. to Guy Story and Vinne Grasso

The value of TechX cannot be understated: for years, Advertising Week has shunted ad-tech demos into the lower level of the Times Center on 8th and 41st, mainly as an afterthought to the main programming upstairs. TechX was both long overdue and also groundbreaking in its depth, bringing start-up companies in the immersive and AI worlds into a forum for major brand conversations on the state of the ad industry.

Mika Rautiainen demonstrates Valossa AI

TechX saw the launch of immersive analytics company QuantumXPR, with Scott Susskind and Kris Matheney camped out in the lower level of the venue, near two rows of digital art projects. Verizon envrmnt, the end-to-end VR/AR studio from Verizon Labs, was in full force, showcasing its AR projects for the likes of Time Inc., and Conde Nast, as well as its Virtual Sportsbar experience. The Valossa AI demo presented attendees with a new way to understand video, and VNTANA

showcased the best holographic display technology we have yet seen. Retinad’s VR in-console ad analytics and Tunity’s out of home display audio solution presented measurable technology for audiences underserved, or not yet measured. DreamSail Games showcased an expansive VR game environment, and Holosonics presented directional audio solutions.

VNTANA’s holographic display demonstrated the full-size immersive side of out of home displays

Sean Brown, with Turner Courageous, gets a demo of the Verizon envrmnt AR activation for a Verizon Store drone campaign, from JR Dawkins

Brian Roth, from Immersv, gets a VR demo from Christian Egeler, director of VR/AR at Verizon envrmnt

Nestled just steps away from the Times Square bustle, TechX was a rare opportunity to glimpse some of the more inventive ways to deliver and measure ads – and no PowerPoint involved.

Yes – there were sessions at TechX as well. Here’s a lively VC discussion in play

Chris Pfaff Tech Media hosts IBC Video Content Innovation Summit at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam

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This year’s IBC will likely have more content producers and distributors seeking solutions in AI, VR/AR, OTT, and cloud management. So, in order to help kick off this year’s show right, we have curated some of the leading players in media innovation today, and they are all at IBC 2017 at our Video Content Innovation Summit. 

Come have breakfast, network with industry peers, and enjoy discussions on the latest in VR/AR; AI for media; OTT; cloud and mobile content distribution and more. Meet with leading players in the broadcast; cable; OTT, and infrastructure arenas.
Our venue is the event space at the Rockstart Accelerator, one of Amsterdam’s main innovation hubs, at Herengracht 182, 1016 BR. 
Attendance is free, with registration. Please register your RSVP at: http://bit.ly/2gmeKYa
Produced by Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC and Integer 1, the event will feature:
  • Helge Hoibraaten, CEO, Vimond
  • Raheel Khalid, CTO, Verizon envrmnt
  • Mika Rautiainen, CEO, Valossa
  • Kanwaldeep Kalsi, VP, Media & Entertainment, HCL Americas

Our esteemed colleague, Sanjay Macwan, will deliver a keynote presentation, and moderate our expert panel.

Hosted by Chris Pfaff Tech Media & Integer1.

8:00 am – 8:45 am – Registration and Breakfast

8:45 am – 9:00 am – Welcome and Opening Remarks (Chris Pfaff)

9:00 am – 9:30 am – The State of Global Video Technology and Content Innovation – keynote (Sanjay Macwan)

9:30 am – 10:00 am – Panel discussion with HCL, Verizon envrmnt, Valossa, and Vimond

10:00 am – 10:10 am – Closing Remarks

10:10 am – 10:30 am – Networking