Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at RhythmOne. As the VP of Influencer Marketing at RhythmInfluence, I’m lucky enough to oversee our pre-sale strategy, paid social and account management teams, as well as to work closely with our sales team to ensure success amidst a crowded marketplace. Our detailed processes that have been fine-tuned over the past seven years coupled with our experienced team and our various technology & data partners ensures our managed service offering drives performance.What is the current definition of an Influencer? How do Influencers treat brands?An Influencer is an individual who has the power to affect decisions based on their connection with their follower base. They are experts at engaging their audiences across their blog or social platforms and are best-in-class at creating high-quality, beautiful content that resonates. Quality Influencers partner with brands that make sense for their Influencer brand voice. They collaborate with the brand to ensure the content they are creating meets the campaign objectives while ensuring they can retain authenticity for their followers.How is Influencer Marketing transforming the way modern brands do their business now?Influencer Marketing has emerged as a key digital marketing tactic as it provides brands the opportunity to connect with their target audiences in an authentic, creative and modern way. The nature of the format allows audiences to consume without disruption and provides an opportunity for brands to communicate key values, benefits, use cases, etc. Content created by Influencers is often utilized by brands across additional Digital Advertising outlets, on their O&O websites, e-commerce sites, and in-store. Brands realize the power of Influencers and partner with them to help drive results, whether in the form of actual sales, engagements, brand lift, increased positive sentiment or brand awareness.How have Influencer Marketing Technologies evolved in the last 2 years? Influencer Marketing Hub reported that over 320 new influencer marketing-focused platforms and agencies entered the market over the last 12 months. (Influencer Marketing Hub, State of Influencer Marketing 2019). Many of these platforms tout similar offerings focused around streamlining and automating Influencer Marketing. I firmly believe that technology should be used to improve the offering, but that human interaction is necessary to ensure a fully successful campaign. After all, we are dealing with actual people, not machines as we work with Influencers. One key development from a technology standpoint has been around brand safety and fraud prevention, an extremely important piece of the Influencer puzzle and one that everyone must embrace.Tell us about your recent report on Influencer Marketing Benchmarks? Our most recent Influencer Marketing Benchmarks report is the sixth in our series where we analyze campaigns we have implemented for our clients. It’s always exciting to see the performance reported in aggregate, with key takeaways such as average engagement rate of over 9%, CPE just below $.30 and a trend of increased positive brand sentiment and ROI. In addition to key performance data, the report also provides best practices and learnings so we continually evolve our offering while pushing others in the space to do the same.Why should CMOs subscribe to it? The RhythmOne Benchmarks report provides an analysis of campaign data without bias. We then tie in our expertise and campaign learnings throughout the year to help others gain insight and best practices. Key takeaways include embracing video, pushing for more experiential and longer-term ambassador programs and most importantly demanding more from your partners. An influencer campaign should never end when the content is posted as we see huge gains when the distribution is a component of the program.How do you leverage your expertise in Influencer Marketing to build Customer Relations across platforms and devices? We start with finding the right Influencers and work with them to create and share quality, creative, authentic branded content. Our expertise in the Influencer space drives the development of campaigns that allow an Influencer to speak to their audience, while still fulfilling the needs of the brand. From there, every campaign has a distribution component that pushes the content to do more. Whether this is in the form of paid social distribution, display, video, or a combination of them all, we reach the brand’s exact target audiences across all platforms and devices. The distribution of influencer video content in Advanced TV environments is an emerging focus as consumption habits of audiences evolve.What makes RhythmOne different from other Digital Advertising companies?RhythmInfluence, RhythmOne’s Influencer Marketing discipline, is differentiated from others in the space as we go beyond your traditional Influencer Marketing offering. We look at the main KPI’s of each program and cultivate a solution that will drive guaranteed performance through best in class managed service and extensive distribution and measurement. We have been doing this for years, and have fine-tuned our processes, pushed creative envelopes, honed our technology and data partners and developed analytics tools & relationships to ensure efficient, creative, successful campaigns.How do you bring Influencer Marketing to Digital Advertising? What are the outcomes you commit to your customers? Influencer Marketing has become another tool in the Digital Advertising executive’s toolbox, often the one they are most excited about! We can mirror many of the outcomes digital advertisers are accustomed to as the sophistication of data and reporting grows. We always guarantee performance, whether it be in the form of engagements, impressions or video views and the majority of our campaigns include a sentiment study and/or brand lift study. For those more focused on ROI, we can pivot and optimize towards online sales. So the opportunities are endless, resulting in custom programs based on the needs of each advertiser. It’s important to fully understand the main KPI’s of a program before putting together an Influencer Marketing strategy.How do you see Retail platforms evolving with better Influencer Marketing adoption? The retail sector has so much to reap from an Influencer Marketing campaign. There is of course, the obvious use of Influencers to showcase products and drive sales. This piece will evolve significantly with the introduction of Instagram’s shoppable posts for Influencers, something I’m very excited to see in action! Also of importance is the focus on gaining rights to imagery to utilize across a variety of outlets such as the e-commerce sites, in-store, within catalogs or as part of an Email Marketing program. Not only does the content resonate better with consumers, but it also limits the number of dollars spent creating more traditional product shots.What are the biggest challenges in measuring the ROI of Influencer Marketing products and services? Measuring the ROI of an Influencer Marketing program has come a long way. There are certainly still challenges, especially as it pertains to organic posts and the walled gardens of the social platforms, but RhythmOne’s proprietary analytics tools allow for advanced tracking to ensure the measurement is in place. Also, measurement companies like Nielsen, Cuebiq, and Foursquare have evolved for more social-focused analysis and reporting. Finally, the use of paid social amplification allows lower funnel CTA’s and measurement via GA/Adobe data and/or pixel placement, allowing direct correlation between Influencer content and sales.What is your prediction on the disruptive application of Influencer Marketing in Video and Social Media campaigns? Influencer Marketing is currently and will continue to disrupt video and social media campaigns – in a positive way. Influencers take the traditional video and social world to a new level, with the best in class content and creativity, which drives more engagement and greater performance outcomes. Consumers are increasingly blind to traditional advertising messages. They crave, and at this point even expect, a more authentic message tailored directly to them. Influencer marketingKatie PaulsenRhythmOneSalesSocial MediaTechBytes Previous ArticleRestraint Is the Key to Relevance – Sometimes It’s What You Don’t SayNext ArticleMarTech Interview with Michael Dickerson, Chief Executive Officer at ClickDimensions TechBytes with Katie Paulsen, VP of Influencer Marketing at RhythmOne Sudipto GhoshJune 18, 2019, 1:00 pmJune 18, 2019 About RhythmOne RhythmOne is a market leader in multiscreen digital advertising solutions. Led by advanced TV and powered by the most efficient and effective programmatic platform, we provide innovative solutions for brands to connect with consumers – including YuMe by RhythmOne and RhythmInfluence – and drive real business outcomes for advertisers and publishers. Our full-stack, end-to-end unified RhythmOne Programmatic Platform – inclusive of RhythmGuard, our proprietary brand safety technology – is focused on delivering scale, efficiency, performance, quality, and actionable data for demand and supply-focused clients and partners. Founded in 2004 in the United Kingdom, RhythmOne was acquired by Taptica International (AIM: TAP) in 2019 and maintains offices throughout the US and Canada, Asia-Pacific, Europe, India, and Latin America. About KatieAbout RhythmOneAbout Katie Katie is responsible for overseeing the strategy, execution, and sales empowerment for RhythmInfluence, the influencer marketing solution by RhythmOne. She brings 14+ years of digital media experience and has played an integral role in developing successful online solutions for top brands.Her expertise spans social, mobile and video with a specific focus and passion for influencer marketing.
SharpSpring Recognized as “Top Rated All-in-One Marketing Tool for 2019” by TrustRadius MTS Staff WriterJuly 9, 2019, 5:28 pmJuly 9, 2019 SharpSpring, Inc., a leading cloud-based marketing automation platform, announced it has been recognized as a Top Rated All-in-One Marketing Tool for 2019 on TrustRadius, the widely-respected B2B software technology review platform.“SharpSpring has earned a Top Rated award for all-in-one marketing platforms,” said Megan Headley, VP of Research at TrustRadius. “These awards are based entirely on customer feedback. Reviewers of SharpSpring praise its intuitive forms builder, easy-to-use visual workflow designer for setting up automation flows, and its unique ‘Life of the Lead’ and Visitor ID features that provide insights into visitor activity.”TrustRadius categorizes All-in-One Marketing tools as those that “typically offer several online marketing functions as an integrated package,” often including marketing automation, CRM, content management (including blogging), SEO, social media marketing and e-commerce.“Our vision for SharpSpring has always been to empower agencies and small- and medium-sized businesses by creating a powerful marketing and sales platform that is both easy-to-use and affordable,” SharpSpring CEO Rick Carlson said. “This award is an affirmation of our team’s work to make marketing automation available to everyone, and we couldn’t be more proud, or more thankful for our customers’ feedback.”Earlier this year, SharpSpring was also named by TrustRadius as a Top Rated Marketing Automation Software for 2019. Products qualified for inclusion in the 2019 Top Rated Marketing Automation Software list stood out from more than 100 platforms listed on TrustRadius’ site for that category.Marketing Technology News: TripIt Launches New Amazon Alexa SkillSome of the most recent comments on TrustRadius about SharpSpring:“If anyone is seeking a platform that can be commanded and benefit their company quickly, I would highly recommend taking the time to research and add this to their services to assist in the success of their company. The ease of switching over to SharpSpring from another platform helped us to dive right in.”– Amy Cottrell, Phimation Strategy Group“SharpSpring is amazing for doing a deep-dive into how your leads are behaving and interacting with your marketing materials. When you set up lead scoring, you or a salesperson can set up auto-notifications when a lead reaches a certain score. You can then visit that lead’s profile and view the ‘Life of the Lead.’ This allows for very strategic communications from a salesperson to convert a lead to a client.”Marketing Technology News: Mobile Tide Ebbs as Popularity of PC and VR/AR Increases for UK Studios, says TIGA– Sarah Harris, The Write Shop“SharpSpring is a full-featured marketing automation platform that is within reach of most small businesses due to its cost and ease of use. It has features to satisfy both large and small businesses and can be customized for any industry. We have successfully implemented SharpSpring with small businesses that tried other marketing automation platforms in the past but left due to the costs and complexity of the platforms. Business owners are amazed at how easy SharpSpring is to use.”– Gary Shouldis, 3Bug MediaMarketing and AdvertisingSince they launched in 2016, the TrustRadius Top Rated Awards have become the industry standard for unbiased recognition of the best B2B technology products. Based entirely on customer feedback, they have never been influenced by analyst opinion or status as a TrustRadius customer.Marketing Technology News: Druva Gives Channel Partners the Keys to Cloud with Druva Compass marketing automationMarketing Technology NewsNewsRick CarlsonSharpSpringTrustRadius Previous ArticleGlobal Survey of 287,000 Mobile Users Reveals It’s Time to Change The Way Digital Marketing is Done: from Data-Driven to Choice-FirstNext ArticleLuxury Industry Training Expert Joins the Customer Experience Group
Verve Awarded IAB Tech Lab Open Measurement SDK Certification PRNewswire1 day agoJuly 22, 2019 Internet Advertising BureauMarketing Technology NewsNewsprogrammatic videoVerveVerve SDK 4.0 Previous ArticleMarTech Interview with Brad Agens, Founder at GlocallyNext ArticleCurrencies Direct Chooses Onfido to Help Scale Customer Onboarding VERVE ENSURES TRANSPARENCY AND MEASUREMENT OF IN-APP MEDIA WITH IAB OM SDK CERTIFICATIONVerve, the leading platform for location-powered programmatic video and display marketing, announces certification of the Verve SDK 4.0 in the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab Open Measurement Software Development Kit (OM SDK) initiative. The IAB Tech Lab launched the OM SDK initiative in early 2018 as part of an industry-wide effort to bring greater efficiency to third-party viewability and verification measurement of in-app ads; its stamp of approval ushers Verve into a select group of companies that have met rigorous IAB Tech Lab standards for ensuring transparency in mobile advertising.The IAB Tech Lab focuses on eradicating barriers around growth in a media industry where fraud is still of the highest concern. According to eMarketer, as of January 2019, 69% of U.S. agency executives and 52.6% of brand professionals cite fraud as the most significant deterrent to investing in digital. The OM SDK is a crucial and long-awaited tool to accelerate that investment while safeguarding brands’ and agencies’ media spend. To date, supporting viewability and measurement has necessitated a complicated and time-consuming process, including the addition of multiple third-party viewability and measurement partners into one’s SDK. The native libraries of the IAB Tech Lab OM SDK streamline this undertaking, allowing publishers to enable the easy inclusion of vendors that they choose.Marketing Technology News: For Marketing, Video is Best Tool for Online Learning“We’re proud to deliver IAB Tech Lab OM SDK Certification as an integral element of the Verve SDK 4.0,” said Mark Fruehan, EVP Velocity Programmatic Marketplace at Verve. “The OM SDK solves for greater flexibility and faster implementation of the in-app measurement our industry needs to thrive. Certification ensures that all Verve’s SDK-driven ad formats are measurable with an advertiser’s choice of third-party partners across all inventory for both programmatic and managed service campaigns.”The IAB Tech Lab’s efforts have received considerable industry support, including endorsement by the Media Ratings Council (The MRC), known for its stringent certification processes. At just over one year post-launch, more than 30 prominent media and ad tech companies have adopted it, and the OM SDK is enabled on more than 2 billion mobile devices around the world.Marketing Technology News: CloudJumper Announces Partnership with CNE Direct To Ease On-Premise Migration to Windows Virtual Desktop“Brands are eager to make more significant marketing investments in mobile and particularly in-app,” said Dennis Buchheim, Executive Vice President and General Manager, IAB Tech Lab. “The OM SDK is the catalyst needed to help brands engage with confidence. A simplified route to integrating verification partners frees up both buyers and sellers to move faster with flexibility and transparency. We’re excited to see buyers, sellers, and measurement platforms coming together in support of the OM SDK and OM SDK-enabled media.”Verve was officially awarded full IAB Tech Lab OM SDK certification for both iOS and Android in May 2019. To learn more about the Verve SDK 4.0 and our work with the IAB Tech LabMarketing Technology News: Submittable Raises $10 Million Series B to Transform the Application Submission and Review Process
Nielsen And Beiersdorf US Are Fostering Growth In The Skin Care Category Through Analytics And Technology PRNewswireMay 8, 2019, 11:28 amMay 8, 2019 Nielsen announced the renewal and expansion of its analytic relationship with Beiersdorf US, a trusted global leader within the skin care category. Together, Nielsen and Beiersdorf US are fostering growth in the health and beauty space by accelerating the adoption of cutting edge analytics and technology. With this agreement, Beiersdorf US became the first skin care company to engage with Nielsen’s newest technology platform, Nielsen Connect.Building off of a collaborative relationship that has been growing since 2008, Nielsen has helped Beiersdorf U.S. navigate through the health and beauty consumer landscape with speed and precision. Through expanded market coverage, amplified services around omnichannel measurement, more agile analytics and deeper insight into the changing consumer landscape, Nielsen will continue to deliver industry-leading data across Beiersdorf’s U.S. brand portfolio, inclusive of NIVEA, Eucerin and Aquaphor.Marketing Technology News: Streaming TV Viewership up 72% Yoy, Advertisers Shocked at 47% Fail Rate“Nielsen has been a trusted and valued partner of the Beiersdorf US business for many years, delivering quality data services that are meaningful to our business in an informed and responsive manner,” said Rodney Waights, VP, Shopper & Customer Marketing, at Beiersdorf US. “The adoption of Nielsen Connect is already underway. We believe it will simplify access to data, improve the speed and ability to generate real insights and enable us to be more agile in our decision-making.”Marketing Technology News: Introducing Pardot Business Units: Powering Personalized Enterprise B2B Marketing at Scale“Beiersdorf US is setting a new standard in the world of skin care by showing the industry how to embrace new technology and joining a growing roster of companies who are leaning into Nielsen Connect, said Laura McCullough, EVP, US Customer Development, Nielsen. “We are looking forward to supporting the company’s future growth as they continue to win through strong retailer collaboration and consumer centricity. Equipped with speed and enhanced data visualization, analytic tools, Beiersdorf U.S. will have a clear view into what’s happening in the beauty market, why and what’s next.”Marketing Technology News: TrustArc Platform Enhancements Simplify Privacy Management for CCPA, GDPR and Other Global Regulations analyticBeiersdorfMarketing TechnologyNewsNielsenRodney WaightsTechnology Previous ArticlePendo Acquires Product Feedback Innovator ReceptiveNext ArticleSalesforce Announces Einstein Analytics for Financial Services – AI-powered Insights for Wealth Advisors, Managers and Retail Bankers
ctivation Insights Helps Brands Better Understand Linear Viewing and OTT SpendRoku, Inc. announced Activation Insights, a powerful new tool to target audiences that have shifted to OTT. The capability combines a comprehensive review of a brand’s linear TV campaign performance, with an analysis of the potential OTT audience missed and the optimal budget spend on the Roku platform.“By adding the ability to tie advertising performance on linear with a specific audience that advertisers can gain on OTT, we are addressing a long-standing industry challenge for OTT media planning. We believe it’s no longer a question of when advertising budgets will shift to streaming but how much.”Activation Insights is part of Roku Ad Insights Suite, which helps brands measure campaign reach and effectiveness across linear TV and OTT. With deep first-party insights from Roku’s 29.1 million active accounts brands can now better model potential investment with Roku and estimate an unduplicated, incremental audience – whether the audience is light TV viewers and cord-cutters or viewers who were under or over exposed to a brand’s ads on linear TV.Marketing Technology News: Instagram Stories and Video Ads Become Branding Staples in Social“Smart marketers are significantly increasing investments in OTT to reflect the dramatic shift to streaming,” said Scott Rosenberg, SVP and GM, Platform Business, Roku. “By adding the ability to tie advertising performance on linear with a specific audience that advertisers can gain on OTT, we are addressing a long-standing industry challenge for OTT media planning. We believe it’s no longer a question of when advertising budgets will shift to streaming but how much.”According to Magna Global, OTT accounts for 29 percent of TV viewing but so far has only captured 3 percent of TV ad budgets. Roku provides significant scale and reach to help advertisers catch up to where consumers already are. Additionally, Roku offers advertisers some of the most advanced tools in OTT to deliver more effective, targeted and measurable campaigns.Marketing Technology News: IDG Communications Names Gene Bishop Global CIOWith Roku’s Reach Insights measurement tool brands such as Baskin Robbins and RE/MAX found that a sizable audience was no longer being reached via their linear TV campaigns. Eighty-six percent of people age 18-49 who saw a Baskin Robbins ad on the Roku platform did not see the ad on linear TV, leading to a 10.6 percent incremental reach. Additionally, 81 percent of users age 25-54 who saw a RE/MAX ad on the Roku platform did not see the ad on linear TV, leading to a 9.2 percent incremental reach.“This year’s TV upfront made one thing very clear, OTT is the new cable and powerful new video channel to reach today’s consumers,” said Michael Piner, SVP, Video and Data Drive Investments, MullenLowe. “Roku’s tool helps show us just how effective OTT is at reaching our advertisers’ valuable consumers. It gives us a detailed look behind the GRP, allowing us to identify key audiences we’re missing or over/under exposed to Linear TV ads but that can be effectively reached on their Roku devices.”Marketing Technology News: Neustar and JCDecaux North America Partner to Bring Mobile Location Intelligence to Digital and Analog Out-of-Home Advertisers Roku Introduces New Analytics and Planning Tools for OTT Advertisers PRNewswireMay 24, 2019, 4:55 pmMay 24, 2019 Activation InsightsMarketing TechnologyNewsOTT audienceRokuRoku Ad InsightsTV campaign Previous ArticleAll New Box Relay to Simplify and Accelerate Business Processes Across the Extended EnterpriseNext ArticleWibbitz Releases New Research on Video Marketing Trends & Challenges for Social Media
UK Companies Face Boycotts for Slow Customer Service Business WireJune 12, 2019, 4:49 pmJune 12, 2019 8x8contact centre solutionsMarketing TechnologyMarketing Technology NewsMary Ellen GenoveseNewsSlow Customer Service Previous ArticleAnswerDash Unveils AnswerDash Lite For Website Support Ticket Reduction and Improved Customer ExperienceNext ArticleArtificial Intelligence – the Driving Force Behind Modern Innovation Research reveals over half (56%) of Brits would stop shopping with a brand if they experienced slow customer service. That is according to 8×8, a leading cloud provider of voice, video, chat and contact centre solutions for over one million users worldwide, who recently commissioned a survey of 2,000 adults in the UK.“It’s clear that customers have little patience for slow service and, when frustrated, won’t hesitate to take their business elsewhere. ”This is a widespread issue – nearly two-thirds (64%) of people have been frustrated at the length of time it has taken a customer service team at a company to solve a problem.The time it takes to reach someone is the most common reason customers lose patience with a customer service team (36%) followed by having to wait to get their query resolved (30%). Easy access to contact information is also a key factor, as a quarter (25%) have lost patience by having to wade through too many screening questions in order to access contact information.Marketing Technology News: PROS Launches Sales Agreement Management to Streamline Selling in Digital EraWhen asked about the types of businesses they are most likely to lose patience with, customers named utilities and telecom firms in the top spot (33%), followed by retail (24%), and local Government (21%). This suggests that organisations in these sectors are at the greatest risk of losing customers to slow service.To help them get an answer quickly and easily, 78% of consumers expect companies to provide access to their customer service team via multiple channels, such as phone, email, webchat, and social media. Despite this, it is still common for companies to only offer a single communications channel for customers to contact them on. One in five customers (19%) have dealt with a company that only offered a phone number, and 11% encountered webchat-only.Marketing Technology News: Agency Veteran Joao Machado Joins as Sabio’s SVP of Product MarketingMary Ellen Genovese, Managing Director of European Operations, 8×8, said: “It’s clear that customers have little patience for slow service and, when frustrated, won’t hesitate to take their business elsewhere.“This isn’t just over established channels such as phone and email, but across webchat and social media too. By using the latest technology to bring all communications channels into one platform, companies can ensure customer queries are resolved quickly, and in one interaction – whether that’s using analytics to pinpoint bottlenecks, or allowing agents to collaborate instantly with the right experts internally to get answers for customers.”The research also reveals that customers expect traditional channels to deliver a faster response rate than online options. When asked which customer service platforms they lose patience with the most, 37% said phone, compared to just 12% for email and 10% for live chat.Marketing Technology News: Vidyard Expands Offering to Bring Personalized Video App to Any Sales Professional, No Matter How They Work
Bikaner (Rajasthan): The Narendra Modi-led government’s many programmes have made little or no difference to their lives but many farmers in Bikaner say he is still the man to vote for.Farmers across Rajasthan’s border district of Bikaner, which votes on Monday in the fifth round of the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls, cite the government’s growth policies and its stance on terrorism for their support. For many, the BJP’s candidate does not matter just as the governments’ track record on tackling agrarian distress doesn’t.Programmes like PM-Kisan and an increase in the minimum support price have had virtually no impact on their lives, said Jhandu Ram from Nal village.Sitting atop a heap of chana (gram), the 56-year-old said farmers rarely ever come to know about schemes. When they do, the benefits hardly make a difference.”To avail the benefits of MSP, we have to sell it at government centres and receive the money in four months. But we need the money today, not months later. And even then it’s just Rs 300 extra. There is no use of these schemes,” he said.The MSP for gram is set at Rs 4,600 per quintal (Rs 4,620 official rate), and the farmers sell it at the market for Rs 4,300, he added.In his view, however, there can’t be a better prime minister than Modi for the country.”We can never have a PM as good as Modi, the kind India hasn’t seen before. He has kept India’s money inside. Unlike the Congress, he didn’t let anyone steal it from us.”Not only he brought fame to the country, he also showed Pakistan its place by killing 350 in response to 40 of our jawans,” he said.Ram was joined by his brother Bhinvji, who echoed the sentiment. Bhinvji added that as far as farmers are concerned, no party has done anything worthwhile.”Modi has improved the overall condition of the country. But to be honest, I don’t think anyone has done anything for the farmers, be it the Congress or the BJP,” the 68-year-old said.Another farmer, Bhanwar Singh, 55, from Kawni village, said governments have come and gone and all they do is announce schemes without any ground-breaking change in the reality.”Nothing has reached us so far. And now if the government changes at the Centre, another set of new schemes will be announced. Who is actually availing these schemes? Not us,” he said.While he said he wants Modi to return to the Centre, he also added that it would make no difference to farmers in the country.”Modi has done a lot for the country, he has a clear mindset for growth. But when it comes to farmers, I don’t think it will ever change. We want to sell at a higher price, consumer wants to buy it cheaper. In the end, it’s a no-profit-no-loss situation for us,” said Singh, resignedly.Not everyone agrees though.Amid the pro-Modi voices at the Anaj Mandi, Ganesharam, 68, complained about the incumbent government and slammed all political parties equally for not doing anything for farmers.”Modi has done nothing except for making tall claims. The Congress is no different. Nobody has done anything for farmers,” he said.Asked who should win the election, he had a rather grim reply while raising doubts on the government’s Balakot airstrike claims.”I would choose Congress over Modi any day. At least Congress doesn’t lie and hide behind the Army. Is there a proof India killed 350 in Pakistan? They should have some proof, where is it? If Modi comes back to power, there will be no point in living.”Work or no work, a better life or not, many aggrieved farmers insist on voting for Arjun Ram Meghwal, the sitting BJP MP for last two terms, who is contesting against his cousin Madangopal Meghwal from the Congress. Bharatiya Janata PartyBikanerbikaner-s20p02BJP First Published: May 5, 2019, 2:28 PM IST | Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
Report: Sprint and T-Mobile are considering concessions to save mergerWith regulators skeptical that the Sprint-T-Mobile deal will be good for competition in the U.S., Sprint and T-Mobile are reportedly considering concessions to save the deal, according to Bloomberg, which cites people familiar with the matter. Perhaps the biggest and most important of these concessions would be the sale of their prepaid businesses, which would be a pretty major step for both of the carriers. Other possible concessions include selling some airwave licenses.It makes sense Sprint would want to make concessions to get the merger approved. Sprint posted another drop in subscribers by 198,000, which is the company’s worst drop since 2015.U.S. regulators may block the Sprint-T-Mobile mergerIt seemed for a while like Sprint and T-Mobile were finally going to merge, but now it seems as though the deal could never happen. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the Department of Justice has warned both T-Mobile and Sprint that the deal is unlikely to be approved in its current iteration.So why is the deal unlikely to go through? According to the report, regulators are concerned that the deal could end up harming competition in the wireless industry in the U.S., despite the fact that both companies insist that the deal would boost jobs and innovation. It’s currently unclear if the Department of Justice is seeking to kill the deal altogether, or if it simply wants changes to it.If the merger were to go through, T-Mobile CEO John Legere would ultimately lead the combined company. After the report was published, Legere took to Twitter to refute it, saying that it was “simply untrue.”The premise of this story, as summarized in the first paragraph, is simply untrue. Out of respect for the process, we have no further comment. This continues to be our policy since we announced our merger last year. https://t.co/3q9CVgkRfv key info: https://t.co/N5YvuuJtPZ— John Legere (@JohnLegere) April 16, 2019T-Mobile-Sprint merger could close in Q1 2019The Sprint-T-Mobile merger could be sooner to closing than previously thought. According to T-Mobile Chief Financial Officer J. Braxton Carter, while the deal is likely to close in the second quarter of 2019, it’s possible that things could move along even quicker and the deal could close in the first quarter.“The only remaining thing that is happening is depositions with the [Department of Justice], which have started and will be completed in a few weeks,” he said at a conference in Barcelona in mid-November. “At this point, it’s more pointing to the second quarter as more probable (but) it could still be first quarter.”FCC needs “extra time” to review the T-Mobile/Sprint mergerOn September 11, the FCC announced that it needed more time to review the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. In the announcement, it paused the 180-day timeline for reviewing the merger, creating yet another roadblock in what could be a long process for the deal.The FCC didn’t give too many details, but it did say that it wanted more time to allow for “thorough staff and third-party review.”FCC begins accepting petitions to deny the T-Mobile and Sprint MergerOn July 19, the commission announced that it was officially accepting petitions to deny the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. Both petitions (which could be filed by anyone) to deny the deal and formal comments were due on August 27, and could be submitted on the FCC’s docket page — where you could also find a list of filings from others. From there, oppositions to the petitions were due on September 17 and replies on October 19. As for when a decision will be issued, the FCC created a 180-day timeline to review the merger but wasn’t required to give an answer once those days are up. In fact, now that it has paused that timeline, it’s unclear as to when we’ll hear a final decision.T-Mobile and Sprint file Public Interest Statement with FCCOn Tuesday, June 19, both T-Mobile and Sprint announced the next steps have been taken in attempting to make the merger a reality — by filing its Public Interest Statement with the FCC. The PIS includes a variety of arguments by both Sprint and T-Mobile as to why the merger should be approved — starting with building a “world-class nationwide 5G network” that will surpass Verizon and AT&T.The PIS also ensures the “New T-Mobile” will not only bring rural Americans better broadband coverage with improved signal quality and increased network capacity, but that consumers will also pay less and receive more. According to both carriers, customers could see a 55 percent decrease per gigabyte and 120 percent increase in cellular data supply.Other arguments T-Mobile and Sprint include in the filing are ones made previously when the merger was first announced — job growth and innovation. By merging both companies, the New T-Mobile is said to create thousands of additional job opportunities. With a 5G network, the new carrier could help to fund and develop products or services that bring competition to what is already out there in the consumer market.Announcing the mergerOn Sunday, June 17, T-Mobile CEO John Legere tweeted a video announcing that Sprint and T-Mobile had agreed to form a new company. In a press release from the same day, the combined companies were given a value of $146 billion. The company’s ownership will be split three ways, with Deutsche Telekom owning 42 percent and SoftBank Group holding 27 percent. The remaining 31 percent will be publicly owned.T-MobileThe new company will be named T-Mobile, and Legere will serve as the chief executive officer. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son will serve on the board of the new company.Before the deal can be finalized, it will have to be approved by the Justice Department, which will review it for antitrust violations. In June Reuters reported the Justice Department was interviewing smaller carriers and MVNOs to determine how the T-Mobile/Sprint merger could affect their businesses.While the Justice Department blocked a similar deal between AT&T and T-Mobile on antitrust grounds, Legere appears confident this merger will be approved“This isn’t a case of going from 4 to 3 wireless companies — there are now at least 7 or 8 big competitors in this converging market,” Legere said. “And in 5G, we’ll go from 0 to 1. Only the New T-Mobile will have the capacity to deliver real, nationwide 5G. We’re confident that, once regulators see the compelling benefits, they’ll agree this is the right move at the right time for consumers and the country.”One of those “compelling benefits” is likely to be job growth. The new company promises to employ at least 200,000 people in the U.S. That number is expected to grow as the “New T-Mobile” — as the company is called in the press release — has pledged to invest $40 billion in infrastructure over the course of three years.The other major promise is that 5G is coming for all. The New T-Mobile says it will be the only wireless provider with the capability to provide true 5G service. This, in theory, will force its competitors to invest in new technologies prompting the further spread of 5G.T-Mobile“Going from 4G to 5G is like going from black and white to color TV,” Sprint’s Marcelo Claure said. “It’s a seismic shift — one that only the combined company can unlock nationwide to fuel the next wave of mobile innovation.”The company is citing 15 times faster speeds on average by 2024 when compared to T-Mobile’s network today.“5G for all will unleash incredible benefits and capabilities for consumers and businesses,” the release reads. “Imagine, for example, augmented reality heads-up displays that see everything you do, and provide real-time cloud-driven information about the people and objects around you. Imagine never losing anything again because low-cost sensors with decade-long battery life are embedded in everything you own. Imagine an earpiece providing real-time translation as a friend speaks to you in another language.”Previous talksT-Mobile and Sprint sat around a table in November 2017, when talks were said to have fallen apart due to an inability to agree on valuations. Before this, the two came close to merging in 2014, but the deal was cooled when concerns over antitrust were raised by President Barack Obama.During the 2017 discussions, Legere said any merger would have to be in the long-term interests of shareholders. “We have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile’s shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance and track record.”In turn, Claure echoed the sentiment: “While we couldn’t reach an agreement to combine our companies, we certainly recognize the benefits of scale through a potential combination … We are determined to continue our efforts to change the wireless industry and compete fiercely.”During these merger talks in 2017, the carriers reportedly sought a merger without any asset sales, meaning each would keep the maximum amount of its respective “spectrum holdings and cost synergies … before regulators ask for concessions.” Such an approach could face serious questions from regulators as the Federal Communications Commission prohibits rival carriers from conspiring during airwave auctions. The carriers likely saw a very real concern that such a scheme could be rejected by antitrust regulators with the Department of Justice. Administration changes in both the Justice Department and FCC made such a rejection less likely, however.“It is better for Sprint and T-Mobile to listen and learn the concerns of regulators first, and see whether there is anything that can be done to address those concerns,” MoffettNathanson research analyst Craig Moffett said of the impending deal.Merging with the ‘Un-carrier’While both companies will undoubtedly benefit from a merger, Sprint definitely had the most to lose if the talks had failed. The carrier has been playing subscriber catch-up with rival carriers AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. T-Mobile is currently the third largest carrier in the U.S. with 72.6 million subscribers, while Sprint falls into a distant fourth place with around 53.6 million customers.In addition to subscribers, Sprint continues to lag behind T-Mobile in terms of coverage as well. Earlier this year OpenSignal reported that Sprint was, once again, dead last in all of its categories for its State of Mobile Networks report.Updated on June 18, 2019: Dish Network may buy $6 billion of assets from T-Mobile and Sprint. T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here’s everything you need to know T-Mobile’s 5G network is blazing NYC’s lower east side. Here are our test results Switching to AT&T? We break down the carrier’s new unlimited and prepaid plans The best cell phone plans of 2019 The $1,300 Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is here: What you need to know Editors’ Recommendations The merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, the third- and fourth-largest carriers in the U.S., has been close to happening for years — but will it ever?In April 2018, T-Mobile CEO John Legere took to Twitter to officially announce the merger, saying the two companies “have reached an agreement.” He posted a video of himself alongside Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure that provided some details on the merger. And the mobile carriers submitted a formal application to the Federal Communications Commission on June 18, 2018, officially beginning the regulatory review process for the $26 billion deal.The combined company would have more than 126 million customers, bringing it closer to rivals AT&T (141 million subscribers) and Verizon (150 million). The merger could also mean an improvement in overall 5G wireless technology, which promises greater, pervasive connectivity and faster speeds, but which involves costly and complicated development efforts.We’ve got all the news and rumors to keep you up to date.UpdatesDish Network may spend $6 billion for T-Mobile-Sprint assetsDish Network may be nearing a deal for some of the Sprint-T-Mobile assets left over after the merger. Reports surfaced that T-Mobile and Sprint will have to sell off some of their assets to get their merger approved, with the assets in question likely to help in the creation of a fourth network in Sprint’s place. Now, a report from Bloomberg suggests that Dish Network is in talks to buy the assets for at least $6 billion.The deal reportedly hasn’t been finalized but involves some wireless spectrum, as well as Boost Mobile, a Sprint MVNO brand. An earlier Reuters report also suggested that Apollo Global Management was in talks with Dish to finance the bid.FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Brendan Carr back the Sprint-T-Mobile mergerThe U.S. government’s objections to the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile are starting to evaporate as Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Brendan Carr both signaled their support for the merger. Their backing is based on the two companies’ promise of rolling out an extensive 5G network, commitment to accelerated in-home broadband access to currently underserved communities across the country and in rural areas, and promise of increased competition in the U.S. wireless market.In a filing on May 20, T-Mobile outlined a binding commitment to building out its 5G network and to escalating broadband wireless services to rural America. The telecom giant promised to construct its network in remote and unserved areas and to provide communities with independently verifiable fiber-like speeds. The T-Mobile-Sprint combined company will sell Sprint’s Boost Mobile prepaid cellphone company and commit to rolling out a next-generation 5G network that covers 97% of the U.S. within three years of the merger, and 99% within six years. This 5G network would include rural areas, with 85% of rural Americans covered within three years and 90% covered within six years alongside a pledge to guarantee 90% of Americans access to mobile broadband at speeds of at least 100 Mbps and 99% access to speeds of at least 50 Mbps.This got a favorable response from some regulators. Said Pai: “Two of the FCC’s top priorities are closing the digital divide in rural America and advancing United States leadership in 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity. The commitments made today by T- Mobile and Sprint would substantially advance each of these critical objectives.“The companies have also taken steps to respond to concerns that have been raised about this transaction,” Pai stated. “… in addition to their prior commitment not to raise prices for three years, T-Mobile and Sprint have decided to divest Boost Mobile. This sale is designed to address potential competitive issues that have been identified in the prepaid wireless segment.” The deal is not out of the woods yet, as the Justice Department must still approve it.
Editors’ Recommendations 50 years later, the first camera on the moon is still collecting lunar dust Watch live: Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins reflect on the moon landing Life after launch: Inside the massive effort to preserve NASA’s space artifacts What is ray tracing, and how will it change games? Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing Apollo Moon Landing with RTX Technology; courtesy of NvidiaWhat was a small lunar step for man in 1969 has turned into a giant leap forward for computer graphics a half-century later. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Nvidia is showing the capabilities of its GeForce RTX graphics in a new demo that illustrates how the grainy images from the moon in 1969 that we’ve come to know would look if it had been captured today. Thanks to the power of real-time ray tracing, Nvidia had remastered those images by applying the principles of light to re-create the moon landing images with cinematic realism in a newly released demo of its RTX technology.“With RTX, each pixel on the screen is generated by tracing, in real time, the path of a beam of light backwards into the camera (your viewing point), picking up details from the objects it interacts with,” Nvidia said of its new moon landing demo in a blog post. Nvidia claims that this project took its researchers more than five years. The team researched the details of the lunar lander, identified the properties of dust particles on the moon, and measured the reflectivity of the materials of the spacesuits worn by the astronauts.That knowledge was then combined with Nvidia’s real-time ray tracing capabilities found on the RTX graphics cards to re-create the original scene in 1969, showing the sun’s rays emerging from behind the lunar lander and how it is reflected off of the surface of the moon and partially absorbed by the spacesuits worn by the astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.Though real-time ray tracing remains in its infancy today, with limited support in game titles despite a big splashy debut late last year when Nvidia launched its GeForce RTX cards, the technology is often credited for bringing cinematic realism to scenes thanks to the way it is able to translate how light is absorbed, reflected, or refracted off of surfaces in real time. By using ray tracing, Nvidia was able to simulate how the sun’s rays react to every surface, the company said in a YouTube video highlighting this project, noting that the dynamic light and shadows gives us new perspectives on the moon landing. Nvidia’s latest effort to remaster the images from the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing is not unlike its previous efforts in bringing more realistic details to older games, like Quake 2, by using ray tracing.Apollo Moon Landing when seen with real-time ray tracing on RTX graphics; source: NvidiaThe graphics silicon-maker even showed Aldrin the re-created video. As the second human to walk on the surface of the moon, Aldrin appeared to be impressed with the technology. “I’ve got a photo that you can work on next — it’s called the first selfie in space.” Aldrin joked.
Earlier this year, Instagram added face filters to its service, allowing users to add special effects to their selfies. Those face filters served to further blur the line between Instagram and Snapchat, and today Instagram is taking it one step forward by adding those same face filters to Live Videos. With this new feature, you’ll be able to swap between your face filters as your friends watch you in real time. Story TimelineInstagram Stories hits 200m users, celebrates with new camera featuresInstagram brings portrait and landscape photos to batch postsInstagram Stories arrive on desktop, mobile web uploading inboundInstagram hackers now selling millions of users’ data It’s a seemingly innocuous addition at first, but as more features are added to Instagram, it begins to look more and more like a capable competitor to Snapchat. Though we all rolled our eyes when Instagram rolled out a Stories feature that seemed to borrow directly from Snapchat Stories, that move ended up working out for them – in just one year, Instagram Stories grew to 250 million active users, something that should worry Snapchat.In any case, today’s addition lets you use any existing face filter in your Instagram Live Videos. This can be done either before you go live or while the you’re broadcasting. To do so, you simply need to tap the face button you see in the bottom right corner of the display.From there, you’ll be able to pick and choose from the variety of face filters Instagram already offers. In an effort to get people to start experimenting with this new feature, Instagram is launching its new sunglasses face filter exclusively for Live Videos. It’ll be exclusive to Live Videos for the next week, so if you’re itching to try it out, you’re going to have to do a broadcast for your friends.AdChoices广告It likely won’t be long before we hear about the next new Instagram feature. Instagram has been rolling out new features at a pretty steady pace throughout the year, so the next launch is likely only a few weeks off. For now, though, Instagram says that face filters will be rolling out globally over the next couple of weeks, so if you’re not seeing it right away, just sit tight.
At CEATEC 2017, there were actually two Haro’s on display. One could move but had no speech recognition and voice while the other could hold a Gundam conversation was frozen in place. The final product, which is slated to launch in Japan next year for a still unknown price, will be able to do both.VIA: Impress (1), (2) But concierge robot Haro is not. Its primary purpose is to educate you about the facts of the Gundam series. What AI it has inside is used to recognize the speaker’s questions regarding Gundam characters, items, or even famous lines. Haro can also grill you to test your Gundam-worthiness. It can function as an external speaker or an alarm, if you connect your phone to it via Bluetooth. Although not as popular as, say, R2-D2 or, more recently, BB-8, Haro has captured the imaginations and hearts of Gundam fans, both in Japan and elsewhere, long ago. Really, it was only a matter of time before someone made a near perfect replica of the green sphere. That someone just happened to be Bandai Namco, whose parent company owns a license to the Gundam fanchise, and that time is CEATEC 2017.The annual tech exhibit was unsurprisingly filled with robots of all sorts, but one (actually two) that captured much attention, owing to its roots in the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise, was “Gunsheruju” Haro, a portmanteau of “Gundam” and “Concierge”. The green robotic sphere, 19 cm in diameter, is an exact replica of the animated show’s robot of the same name. It can shake and tilt from side to side, and its “ears” open up to flap up and down. Bandai Namco even got the original seiyuu (voice actress) Satomi Arai to provide an added dash of authenticity. There is no shortage of consumer-oriented robots these days, whether for entertainment, security, or even health. They come in all shapes and sizes, including some cute, dancing ones. Curiously, there very few of them seem to take advantage of the fact that science fiction and pop culture already has tons of such kinds of intelligent automatons to use as inspiration. Filling up that gap, Bandai Namco has teamed up with IBM and VAIO to bring one such robot, Gundam’s Haro, to life, as well as to the market next year.
In his new position at Apple, Giannandrea will report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook, according to the NYT, which reports that it acquired an email from Cook that he’d sent to employees this morning. In the letter, Cook allegedly said:Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear. John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal.Giannandrea joined Google back in 2010 when the latter purchased his startup Metaweb. In time, Giannandrea took on Google’s artificial intelligence efforts, a hot technology that has major tech companies, including Microsoft and Facebook, scrambling. Apple, of course, has its own AI in Siri, but it has an uphill battle in competing with Amazon’s massively popular Alexa and Google’s own growing Assistant. Giannandrea’s decision to leave Google was surprising, but it all became clear this evening with news about Apple’s latest hire. His position is a major one, making him one of only 16 executives who report directly to the CEO.SOURCE: New York Times Apple has a new lead for its artificial intelligence efforts: Google’s now-former head of AI and Search John Giannandrea. The company confirmed the news today, which comes one day after The Information reported that Giannandrea had stepped down from his position at Google. Yesterday, Google confirmed that Giannandrea had made the decision to leave the company, but the reasons — at the time — were unclear.
Sony promised us an incredible smartphone camera, and the Xperia XZ2 Premium is the device it’s wrapped up in. The newest model of the company’s 2018 range, the XZ2 Premium is the first to feature Sony’s Motion Eye Dual camera system. Previewed at Mobile World Congress just a few months ago, it has some serious low-light talents. In fact, the Xperia X2 Premium can shoot at up to 51,200 ISO for photos, and up to 12,800 ISO for videos. That, Sony promises, is the sort of sensitivity that until now you’d have required an interchangeable-lens camera for, rather than being included in a regular-sized Android phone. Motion Eye Dual combines a black and white sensor with a color sensor. The former delivers the contrast data; the latter the color data: the details from both are combined with Sony’s AUBE fusion image signal processor. Of course, since there are twin lenses, the Xperia X2 Premium also has the usual faux-bokeh mode for portraits. Or, you could switch into the dedicated monochrome mode. Up to 4K video recording is supported, with HDR. There’s also the 960 fps Super Slow Motion mode we saw on the Xperia XZ2 at MWC 2018, in both 1080p and 720p resolutions. Even the front camera packs in the pixels, being 13-megapixels in resolution. It’s capable of using the display as an impromptu flash. The rest of the phone is fairly familiar territory. On the front there’s a 5.8-inch 4K HDR display running a 2160 x 3840 resolution, which Sony says is 30-percent brighter than its old 4K HDR panel. It uses Sony’s X-Reality upscaling technology, too, capable of turning non-HDR footage into HDR. Inside, there’s Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, X20 LTE with up to 1.2 Gbps downloads – network depending – and 6 GB of RAM, all running Android 8.0 Oreo. It also gets Sony’s Dynamic Vibration System. The latter analyzes audio playback in movies and games in real-time, and then whips up custom vibrations to emphasize the soundtrack. The XZ2 Premium’s speakers themselves use the same S-Force Front Surround system as the XZ2, with Hi-Res Audio, DSHEE HX, and LDAC support. Also like the XZ2 is the design. Sony has wrapped the XZ2 Premium in Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, with 3D glass for curved edges where they meet the metal frame. It’s IP65/IP68 water and dust resistant, too. The 3,540 mAh battery supports Qi charging, and Sony has a new WCH20 wireless charging dock that will launch alongside the XZ2 Premium too. Although for a while it seemed like the smartphone camera space had peaked, 2018 has had more than a couple of surprises for those looking to replace their dedicated camera. The Huawei P20 Pro – sadly still not yet confirmed for a US release – has been wowing reviewers with its triple camera array, for example. Even with “just” two sensors, though, Sony’s Motion Eye Dual technology could well make it the low-light king. If there’s one thing the company knows, it’s how to make a great camera sensor: not for nothing do many of the big names in smartphones already use Sony hardware.We’ll know for sure later this year, when the new phone hits stores. Sony says the Xperia XZ2 Premium will go on sale this summer. It’ll be available globally, but pricing – and any carrier support in the US – will be confirmed closer to release.
Chernobyl’s exclusion site, the location of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, is now home to a giant solar farm featuring 3,800 solar panels. Energy produced at the farm will be sufficient enough to power 2,000 apartments, according to the companies behind it, marking the first time that region has produced power in years. The new solar farm, which produces 1 megawatt of clean energy, is a joint effort between German company Enerparc AG and Ukrainian company Rodina, according to Reuters. The plant cost more than a million dollars to launch, joining other renewable power efforts recently deployed in the nation.Ukraine is currently home to a subsidy scheme described as “generous,” but that may not be available much longer — officials will vote on getting rid of it next summer. Investors are moving quickly to take advantage of the opportunity while it is still available, that resulting in more than 500 megawatts of renewable power capacity launching in the country just this year alone.The symbolism of a large, clean solar farm in the exclusion zone is hard to miss. The region was home to nuclear disaster in April 1986 after reactor number 4 pumped radiative material into the environment, the fallout causing deaths and, later on, illnesses. SOURCE: Reuters
Kyocera has updated its DuraForce Pro rugged smartphone, announcing the launch of its new DuraForce Pro 2. This updated handset sports the same high level of durability as the original model, making it suitable for construction zones, remote locations, and other potentially damaging environments. The new model is exclusive to Verizon and includes a 5-inch Sapphire Shield Display. The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 Android smartphone boasts MIL-SPEC 810G durability with an IP68 water- and dust-proof rating, a rugged housing that protects against drops, shocks, vibration, and more, and a nearly scratch-proof Sapphire display. Though the level of durability may eclipse the needs of the average user, the handset remains an excellent choice for outdoorsy users, manual laborers, and more. Kyocera has once again packed an ultra-loud speaker into its DuraForce Pro handset, this one including dual front speakers capable of 106dB of noise for loud environments. The handset also boasts four noise-cancelling microphones, push-to-talk, and Qualcomm’s Fluence Pro tech. Users have access to three cameras, a front-facing 5-megapixel selfie and video chat camera, as well as a rear 13-megapixel camera. Joining that rear camera is a secondary super-wide-angle 4K “action camera,” the same sort of arrangement found on the original model.All three cameras are safe to use underwater, according to Kyocera. Other features include the ability to use the phone while wearing gloves or with wet fingers, device encryption, a fingerprint sensor, 64GB/4GB of storage and RAM, plus a microSD card slot for an additional 512GB. Verizon is offering the DuraForce Pro 2 for $18.50/month for 24 months; it can be purchased outright for $444 USD.