In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology news:
- AOL promises more live content, including VR, plus a public studio
- Fiat Chrysler and Google are teaming up to develop an autonomous minivan
- Apple loses a suit in China over the iPhone name
- Google offers $250,000 to Flint, Mich.
AOL announces public-facing NYC studio for AOL Build
AOL is looking to connect more with the public, so it’s building a ground level, public-facing studio in downtown Manhattan for its live programming.
It promises to use top technology to engage more with its audience, including shooting in 360-degrees for virtual reality.
Jimmy Maymann, executive vice president and president of AOL Content and Consumer Brands, said AOL Build showed the company’s commitment to “immersive live experiences and creating a studio that will serve as a cultural destination, digitally, as well as within New York City.”
The announcement was made Tuesday as the digital giant AOL detailed plans to create more live programming. The studio is set to be unveiled this fall.
- Fiat Chrysler, Google to cooperate on autonomous minivans
Fiat Chrysler and Google will work together to more than double the size of Google’s self-driving vehicle fleet by adding 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
The companies announced the agreement on Tuesday, saying that Chrysler engineers would work with Google to install sensors and software so the vans can drive themselves.
The added vehicles are needed as Google expands real-world testing. Google says it will own the gas-electric hybrid vans, and it’s not currently licensing autonomous car technology to Fiat Chrysler or anyone else. Both companies are free to work with others as well.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The added vehicles are needed as Google increases real-world testing in four cities including Mountain View, California; Austin, Texas; Kirkland, Washington; and the Phoenix area. Initially the vans will be tested by Google on its private test track in California, but eventually they’ll make their way to public roads.
It’s the first time Google has worked directly with an auto company on installing self-driving sensors and computers. The 100 newly redesigned minivans would be “uniquely built” for Google’s self-driving technology, FCA said in a statement. Both companies will have engineers at a site near Detroit to work on the vans.
- Apple loses Chinese lawsuit over iPhone name
Apple Inc. has lost a legal fight with a Chinese company that a Beijing court says is allowed to use the iPhone name on wallets and handbags.
The court said Apple failed to prove iPhone was a “famous brand” in China before the local company applied for a trademark in 2007, an official legal newspaper reported. Such status under Chinese law might limit its use on other products.
The ruling in late April allows Xintong Tiandi Technology to keep using the iPhone name, according to the Legal Daily, which is published by the ruling Communist Party’s legal affairs committee. The company registered the name for use on handbags, mobile phone cases and other leather goods.
Phone calls to the Beijing Higher Level People’s Court were not answered.
China is Apple’s second-biggest market after the United States, though first-quarter sales in the Greater China region fell 26 percent from a year earlier.
Apple’s iTunes and iBooks services also have been suspended in China, though the company said last month it hopes to resume operation soon.
Apple applied to trademark iPhone for computer- and software-related goods in 2002, according to the Legal Daily.
- Google offers $250,000 for Flint research, local nonprofit
Google is offering $250,000 to help with the ongoing response efforts in Flint as the Michigan city reels from the effects of a lead-contaminated water supply.
Google spokesman Patrick Lenihan announced the two grants to reporters. He says the first $150,000 grant will help researchers from the University of Michigan predict which homes are likely to have water with high lead levels without physically testing it.
University researchers will also build a mobile app and online tools that can help Flintresidents visualize data, report concerns and request testing kits.
The second $100,000 Google grant goes to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. Kathi Horton, the foundation’s president, says she doesn’t know what that money will be used for yet. The foundation gives grants to other area nonprofits.