The Next Web

Amazon Prime Video rolls out Watch Party feature for movies with friends

Just a month after Hulu began testing an official ‘watch party’ feature, Amazon has decided to join the bandwagon.

The company today began rolling out a beta of the feature (US-only, for now) that allows up to 100 viewers to participate in synchronized playback of a TV show or movie. Playback is controlled by the host, and there’s a chat window that participants can communicate with. And because it’s 2020 and all, you can communicate in stickers too.

To start a watch party, simply head on over to the content you’d like to watch; you’ll see the watch party button right on the show or movie’s title. Read More

Tech Radar

Could Xiaomi Mi Band 5 fitness tracker have Amazon Alexa when it rolls out worldwide?

The Xiaomi Mi Band 5 is a pretty anticipated fitness tracker, and people have been waiting for a global launch after it was announced in China in early June. However, it seems the international version might have some cool features missing on the original device.

A resource file for the Mi Band 5 has leaked, and image files within suggest Xiaomi is planning to add a few features that the Chinese version of the fitness tracker lacked, as reported by TizenHelp.

We’d take this leak with a pinch of salt, because a picture in a leaked file is a far cry from confirmation about any product features, but it hints that this might be the case. Read More


KPMG rolls out Power Platform-fueled assessment tools for workplace re-entry

Now that more companies are moving toward having their workers come back to the office — at least to some degree — tech companies are looking for ways to participate in the process. KPMG is using Microsoft’s Power Platform low-code/no-code tools to create a new risk-based framework meant to help companies implement a workplace-re-entry program during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The framework integrates Power Apps, Power BI and Power Automate with apps and services that customers can use to create a data-driven return-to-work strategy, KPMG officials announced on June 25. Read More

The Verge

Japan rolls out Microsoft-developed COVID-19 contact tracing app

Japan’s government today released its coronavirus contact tracing app for iOS and Android. The apps rely on Apple and Google’s co-developed exposure notification platform, using Bluetooth to help determine whether users have come into close contact with others who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Though the app store listing simply reads “COVID-19 Contact App,” Japan refers to the app as COCOA, a somewhat convoluted backronym that stands for COVID-19 Contact-Confirming Application. It was developed by Microsoft engineers, according to Nikkei, who were hired in May after Google and Apple’s conditions reportedly led the government to abandon the work done by a Tokyo-based team in favor of a bigger corporation. Read More

The Verge

Samsung rolls out smartwatch blood pressure tracking in South Korea

Samsung has released its Health Monitor app in South Korea, enabling blood pressure tracking for the Galaxy Watch Active 2 smartwatch. The rollout is slightly ahead of schedule; Samsung previously said the app would be released in the third quarter of this year after getting approval from South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in April.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 still won’t work as a full-on replacement for a traditional blood pressure cuff; in fact, you need to use one to calibrate the app every four weeks. That’s really for the best, though — optical-based sensors can technically only measure the change in blood pressure rather than give an accurate reading by themselves. With a traditional reading as a baseline, Samsung’s app should be more useful for tracking trends over time or between visits to the doctor. Read More


Samsung rolls out blood pressure measuring app in South Korea

Image: Samsung

Samsung Electronics has rolled out its health monitoring app, which allows Galaxy Watch Active 2 users to measure their blood pressure. The app became available to users in South Korea on Thursday.

Galaxy Watch Active 2 users can download the app, called Samsung Health Monitor, via the Galaxy Store. The app must first be calibrated with a traditional cuff before users are able to monitor their blood pressure with the smartwatch, the South Korean tech giant said.

Once calibrated, the Galaxy Watch Active 2’s wrist sensors can perform a pulse analysis, which tracks the relationship between the calibration value and any blood pressure changes to determine the user’s blood pressure. Read More


Researchers train drones to perform flips, rolls, and loops with AI

In a new paper published on the preprint server, researchers at Intel, the University of Zurich, and ETH Zurich describe an AI system that enables autonomous drones to perform acrobatics like barrel rolls, loops, and flips with only onboard sensing and computation. By training entirely in simulation and leveraging demonstrations from a controller module, the system can deploy directly onto a real-world robot without fine-tuning, according to the coauthors.

Acrobatic flight with drones is extremely challenging. Human pilots often train for years to master moves like power loops and rolls, and existing autonomous systems that perform agile maneuvers require external sensing and computation. That said, the acrobatics are worth pursuing because they represent a challenge for all of a drone’s components. Vision-based systems usually fail as a result of factors like motion blur, and the harsh requirements of high-speed fast and precise control make it difficult to tune controllers — even the tiniest mistake can result in catastrophic outcomes. Read More