Tech Sector News

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In an interview with CNBC Billionaire Carl Icahn stated that he sold most of his remaining stake of tech stock Apple, in February. Apple shares have greatly declined since reporting earnings giving the company a market value of less than $530 billion.

In the fourth quarter, Icahn sold 7 million Apple shares, leaving him with 45.8 million shares worth $4.8 billion, according to a February regulatory filing. He reduced his holding just before the company’s shares started to slide this year on concerns that the smartphone market is becoming saturated and that China will no longer fuel sales growth.

After disclosing his Apple stake in August 2013, Icahn pushed Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to return more of the company’s ballooning cash pile to investors. The iPhone maker and tech sector giant stepped up its share buybacks and increased dividends, helping to fuel a 38 percent share rally in 2014. That petered out in 2015, when Apple shares declined 4.6 percent.

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Wearing black headsets with tentacle-like sensors stretched over their foreheads, the competitors stare at cubes floating on computer screens as their small white drones prepare for takeoff..the next generation of the tech sector.

“Three, two, one … GO!” the announcer hollers, and as the racers fix their thoughts on pushing the cubes, the drones suddenly whir, rise and buzz through the air.

A competition – billed as “the world’s first drone race involving a brain-controlled interface” included 16 pilots that used pure willpower to navigate drones through a 10-yard dash over an indoor basketball court at the University of Florida. In A report by The Associated Press organizers hoped to make an annual inter-collegiate spectacle, including advancements in thing like aerial moves, challenges and a trophy that puts the brain on a pedestal.

“BCI was a technology that was geared specifically for medical purposes, and in order to expand this to the general public, we actually have to embrace these consumer brand devices and push them to the limit.”

Scientists have been able to identify brainwaves for more than a century, and mind-controlled technology already is helping paralyzed people move limbs or robotic prosthetic. How does the technology deliver an abstract thought through the digital receptacles and into the real world?

Each EEG headset is calibrated to pinpoint the electrical activity associated with certain thoughts in each wearer’s brain. For example, something like a recording where neurons fire when the wearer imagines pushing a chair across the floor.

Programmers create the code to translate these “Imaginary motion” signals into commands that computers push through to the drones. Professor Juan Gilbert, whose computer science students organized the race, is opening the doors to other universities to put together brain-drone racing teams for 2017. He’s creating interest in a technology whose opportunity seems held back only by the imagination.

“One day you could wear a brain-controlled interface device like you wear a watch, to interact with things around you,” Gilbert said.

An Ohio man using only his thoughts, recently was able to move his paralyzed hand simply based on a chip implanted in his brain. The idea of collegiate brain-drone races has built intrigue for people like Dr. Bin He, a biomedical engineer at the University of Minnesota. He first demonstrated a mind-controlled drone in public in 2013.

“We are getting closer and closer to broad application.” But as the technology moves toward wider adoption, ethical, legal and privacy questions remain unresolved.

The U.S. Defense Department – which uses drones to kill suspected terrorists in the Middle East from vast distances – is looking for military brain-control applications. A 2014 Defense grant supports the Unmanned Systems Laboratory at the University of Texas, San Antonio, where researchers have developed a system enabling a single person with no prior training to fly multiple drones simultaneously through mind control.

In this system, instead of the pilot thinking certain thoughts to move the drones, she looks at a screen with flickering signals, triggering brain activity that translates into specific movements. What tech stocks are about to take advantage of this over the next 5 years.

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Facebook has outperformed Wall Street’s expectations in eight of the past nine quarters. Investors are hopeful for yet another strong earnings report when the company discloses its first-quarter results after US markets close today.

Expectations?

Overall, tech stock analysts are anticipating $5.26 billion in revenue, which would represent a 49% increase year over year, and earnings of 40 cents per share, up 120% from a year ago.

Many top technology stock analysts say that The momentum driving Facebook forward hasn’t shown any signs of letting up. The company now has 1.59 billion monthly active users on the social network-1.04 billion of whom check the app everyday-not to mention 1 billion users on WhatsApp, 900 million on Messenger, and 400 million on Instagram. Two years after acquiring Oculus, it shipped its first virtual-reality headset in March.

The stock’s trading near an all-time high to boot and with assets like Messenger and WhatsApp, these projects still have huge potential in the long term. Virtual reality is also widely believed to be the next major computing platform

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Ant Financial who is the owner of China’s Alipay, has just become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to tech stocks in the payment processing industry. Ant Financial is now worth a whopping $60 billion. That makes it bigger than rival PayPal.

The valuation has been based on a new fundraising round that was just completed by Ant Financial where investors pledged $4.5 billion in what the company has stated, was “the largest ever private placement by an Internet company.”

Other tech stocks like PayPal, in comparison, is “only” worth about $48 billion, according to FactSet data. Ant Financial is expecting to use the new funds in order to “expand access to financial services in China’s rural areas, while also fueling the company’s globalization.”

The company is actually (come to find out) an affiliate of China’s e-commerce and tech sector giant Alibaba (hence the “AliPay” moniker), and it hasn’t been shy about its ambitions since launching in 2014. It’s hinted at a stock market listing, and has already expanded into India.

Ant Financial first began as Alipay, which was an online platform that processes payments for Alibaba websites Taobao and Tmall. Alipay has continued to be Ant’s biggest asset, but the company has been adding even more offerings, including a credit rating service, an internet bank that lends money to small businesses, and even a money market fund. Existing Ant Financial shareholders including insurance firm China Life, China Post Group, and China Development Bank Capital dove head first into this latest funding round. Additional investors include organizations led by China Investment Corp. Capital, and CCB Trust, which is a subsidiary of one of China’s largest banks.

Last month Ant Financial was supposedly in consideration of an acquisition of Caixin, a respected Chinese financial media group. Reports show that Ant declined to comment but also came just a few months after Alibaba announcedit was buying Hong Kong newspaper, South China Morning Post.

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The Department of Justice and the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission approved Charter Communications’ $78 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable and its $10.4 billion purchase of Bright House Networks. The government agencies included multiple conditions to the actual approval, however and the full FCC still needs to cast their ballot in order to accept chairman Tom Wheeler’s suggestion. Regardless, the vote is understood as a formality in this case.

Once the deal is secured, Charter will stand next to other tech sector companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon as a media juggernaut molding the future of television-watching and web-surfing. “We are pleased to reach this critical step in the regulatory review of our merger with Charter,” said Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus, “and remain optimistic that the transaction will be finalized soon.”

The entire arrangement was drawn up almost a year ago, after Comcast’s bid to combine with Time Warner Cable fell apart based on the strong stance that Washington took on the transaction, in opposition of it. This time the same regulators were more supportive of Charter’s bid for Time Warner Cable — but again there were important caveats.

Charter will not be allowed to put data caps in place or sharge customers based on usage, the two agencies said in a statement on Monday. On top of this, the company will not be able to charge internet content providers fees for connecting them to customers. These conditions will apply for a period of seven years in order to “focus on removing unfair barriers to video competition,” the statement said.

Charter’s CEO, Tom Rutledge, will handle the enlarged company. He first had thought the deal would be approved by the end of 2015, but the process has taken quite some time. Now Charter is targeting a mid- to late-May completion date. Along with the FCC vote, the company still needs approval from the California’s Public Utilities Commission. A vote is scheduled for May 12.

“We are pleased that Chairman Wheeler has submitted the proposed conditions for consideration by the full Commission and that the DOJ has submitted its agreement for approval by the court,” Rutledge said in a statement.

“The conditions that will be imposed ensure Charter’s current consumer-friendly and pro-broadband businesses practices will be maintained by New Charter,” he said.

The deal will affect one in six American households and Charter is expected to retire, or at least downplay, the Time Warner and Bright House brand names. Charter already promotes its products with the brand name Spectrum, and it will be extending that name to its new markets.  This take-over could soon become a major catalyst to echo across the technology space to make 2016 Technology Stocks a thing to watch

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It would seem odd to even think of a world that you can actually get “beamed up”. Similar to the Star Trek “mass transit”, that transportation method might not be that far from reality. According to William Shatner, a world full of the sci-fi technology we saw in Star Trek is “not that far-fetched.”

During a panel on the “plausibility of science fiction concepts” at Smithsonian magazine’s “Future Is Here” festival, the man better known for his role as Captain Kirk addressed the audience about how much of what we have seen from the Star Trek series may be “not so out of this world.”

“It’s not that far-fetched,” Shatner said. “Although a lot of the concepts in science fiction are absurd to our Newtonian minds, anything is possible because of the new language of quantum physics.”

But think about it…much of the high tech we saw in Star Trek so many years ago has already entered into our everyday lives in the 50 years since premiering:
Kirk’s communicator

Uhura’s bluetooth

Even the Enterprise’s automatic sliding doors seemed revolutionary

Now the importance of smartphones and automatic doors make these pieces of technology seem ancient. According to Shatner, the military has even based some of their vessels on the Enterprise’s design.

“The Navy did come in and look at some of the ergonomics of the bridge, and apparently copied it,” he said. “A captain of a vessel not too long ago [said] some of the bridge stuff on his ship was designed after what our designers had [done].”

But what about teleportation; one of the shows most famous means of transportation? Of course, we don’t currently have a technology that allows human beings to send eachother through space in a single instant, but Mr. Shatner seems optimistic that science is achieving even more advances in that realm of research.

“Can you transport all the molecules in a human being? Apparently, it’s impossible. Can you transport a replica of that person? Possible, but the amount of computer energy and space is overwhelming,” Shatner explained.

Technologically speaking, we’re still not done exploring the final frontier just yet.

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