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Snapchat captures Viacom

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Viacom and Snapchat have announced a partnership to take a creative approach to speaking  to millennial and post-millennial audiences.

The wide-ranging deal, anchored in both content production and advertising sales, will bring two high profile channels to Snapchat Discover – a Comedy Central International channel and an MTV Channel in the U.S. These will complement the Comedy Central and MTV International Discover channels. The agreement also grants Viacom the right to sell Snapchat’s U.S. owned and operated advertising inventory, allowing Viacom to offer more value to television advertisers who want to add Snapchat’s premium video platform to the media mix. In addition, Viacom also has agreed to provide Snapchat with expanded access so Snapchat can produce Live Stories covering more of Viacom’s events.

“Viacom and Snapchat naturally complement each other in significant ways that make us ideal partners in both content and business development,” said Wade Davis, CFO, Viacom. “Snapchat captures young audiences on an intimate and immersive mobile video platform while Viacom is the leader in premium long- and short-form storytelling for these same audiences. Add in Viacom’s custom marketing solutions and commitment to evolve our global mobile strategy and you’ve got a partnership that is great for both companies, for advertisers, and is a real evolution of the marketplace.”

In addition to selling its advertising alongside its own content on Snapchat Discover, Viacom will now also have the right to sell Snapchat’s U.S. owned and operated ad inventory, which includes ads in ongoing Stories such as “New York,” capturing daily happenings in New York City, and non-partnered holiday Live Stories, such as “Valentine’s Day”. Viacom is the only television company to have this arrangement with Snapchat.

“Snapchat provides the best storytelling experience on mobile. Through this partnership with Viacom, we can now offer television advertisers a way to tell their stories across television and mobile in a frictionless way,” said Imran Khan, Snapchat’s Chief Strategy Officer.

On the content side of the deal, Viacom will further invest in the creation of original premium video content specifically for Snapchat Discover. While MTV International and Comedy Central have previously been committed to creating original content on Discover, additional resources will now be put towards the launch of an MTV US Channel and a Comedy Central International channel on the platform.

MTV’s new Snapchat Discover channel will feature a wide range of content created exclusively for the platform and updated daily. At launch on Tuesday 9 February this includes MTV News articles and video with design and art direction unique to Snapchat. MTV is also developing additional Snapchat-native content, including new original series and reinvented MTV fan-favourite franchises for the platform. .

Another key element of the Viacom/Snapchat partnership will leverage Snapchat’s Live Stories, which are curated collections of user-submitted content covering major events and places around the world. Through the partnership, Snapchat will have access to cover Viacom events like MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs) and BET Experience.

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CES: Most useless gadgets of all

Choosing the best of show is a popular pastime, but the worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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