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Tune of The Week

Xperia Projector – Turn Any Surface into a Touchscreen


Sony has unveiled Xperia Touch, a $1,600 interactive projector that converts any flat surface into a 23-inch touchscreen, and a smartphone model with a super-slow motion camera and 4K screen.

Sony and Line Consider Alliance


Sony and Line (Japan’s most popular messaging service) are considering joining forces to develop devices powered by artificial intelligence.

The companies are exploring opportunities around digital personal assistant technology to co-create a new communication experience, Sony said in a statement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday. Sony unveiled concept earphones powered by Xperia Agent, a virtual butler that responds to voice commands and head gestures.

While Sony’s Xperia smartphones are an also-ran in a market dominated by Apple and Samsung, CEO Kazuo Hirai has resisted pressure to shutter the mobile business. He argues it will serve as a springboard into the nascent market for wearable and interconnected devices known as the Internet of Things. The Japanese company is now betting on gadgets imbued with intelligent software to revive the formerly iconic consumer electronics brand.

A messaging service may not seem like the obvious partner for the task, but Line joins a growing list of software companies entering the hardware space, including Facebook’s acquisition of a virtual reality startup and Snap’s camera spectacles. The Tokyo-based company last year founded a machine learning and artificial intelligence lab to develop new services for its more than 220 million users as revenues from digital stickers and free-to-play mobile games slow.

Sony also unveiled Xperia Touch, a $1,600 interactive projector that converts any flat surface into a 23-inch touchscreen, and a smartphone model with a super-slow motion camera and 4K screen.

$2 Million For 30 Seconds in Grammys Broadcast


ABC Television network is collecting about $2 million per 30-second ad spot in the 89th Academy Awards broadcast.

ABC announced Friday that it had sold all its commercial inventory for the Feb. 26 awards show at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. CA. The program will be hosted by ABC comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

In 2016, ABC sold its ad inventory for an average of $1.72 million per 30 second spot, according to a survey of advertising buyers by Kantar Media, which tracks spending.

Snap Lowers Valuation Expectations in Highly Awaited IPO


Snap Inc, owner of the popular messaging app Snapchat, set a lower-than-expected valuation range on Thursday, amid mounting investor concerns over its unproven business model, slowing growth and tight founder control.

The company, which filed for an initial public offering earlier this month, was widely expected to be valued at between $20 billion and $25 billion. However it said on Thursday it was targeting a valuation between $19.5 billion and $22.3 billion, ahead of an investor roadshow due to start on Monday in London.

The lower valuation range reflected initial investor feedback, as well as Snap’s aim to ensure there is sufficient demand for shares of the company that it trades up on its first day in public market.

Fuse Raises $12 Million For App Building Tool


In 2015, Fuse began testing a service that it claimed would provide a better way for designers and developers to build mobile apps, eliminating the need to constantly compile code. Today the company announced it has hit a major milestone, raising a $12 million Series A round from returning investors Northzone and Alliance Ventures. With this new investment, Fuse said it’ll increase hiring while also pushing more into the enterprise and developer communities.

With Fuse’s tool, developers can build applications in a manner equivalent to how designers would work in Adobe Photoshop or After Effects. It uses a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) editor with cross-platform controls featuring real-time updating so changes made to the app will appear instantaneously on test devices.

“Winning today’s app battles comes down to having killer UX,” explained company cofounder and chief executive Anders Lassen. “We hear the demand loud and clear for a faster, more effective way to build apps that deliver great user experience. The early response to our platform has been extremely validating to our mission, and the added excitement from the investor community is just fantastic.”

In an email interview, Fuse said it has received interest from not only developers, but also design agencies and studios, along with global brands in the enterprise and consumer space. The latest infusion of capital steers the company toward short-term goals, namely launching two more tools called Fuse Pro and Fuse Views.

Fuse Pro will be a visual design tool available through a monthly subscription that allows user experience markup to be edited visually, instead of through code. Fuse hopes it’ll facilitate the development of “groundbreaking new app experiences, including all those who don’t want to write markup code by hand.” From what we’re told, this mirrors what Fuse told VentureBeat in 2015. This tool is currently being tested internally, but a beta program is expected soon, with a public release in Q2.

Fuse Views lets developers enhance apps built in Apple’s Xcode platform or Android studio. “If you already have the core functionality of your app but want to create a beautiful onboarding screen, animated menus, or have the ability to tweak your app user interface in real time, you can include Fuse Views within your app,” the company said. “This enables designers to truly own the UI, animation, and user experience and not require lengthy & complex roundtrips between developers & designers.”

Additionally, there are plans to open-source the core Fuse platform.

The company said that it has “tens of thousands” of users and a “steady influx of new people discovering the platform,” but it declined to provide specifics.

As with most companies that hit Series A funding, Fuse will spend some of the money beefing up its team, which is expected to grow from 25 to around 50 people.

The company has raised more than $19 million in funding, to date.

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