Google’s AI Scientists Quit to Open Own Startup, HoloTile: Disney Unveils VR Treadmill for Multiple Users and More News

Happy Friday, everyone! We hope your January has been going well. Can you believe this is our final News Digest for the month? Time is flying in 2024. 

If you haven’t caught up with last week’s eCommerce news, now’s a great time to read our previous article. Once you’re up to speed, come back here for some VERY exciting updates that we’ve gathered for you today. So, without further delay, let’s get into it.

Today’s news is 1672 words.

Google’s AI Scientists Quit to Open Own Startup

Laurent Sifre and Karl Tuyls, who once worked at DeepMind, Google’s renowned AI branch, are creating quite a buzz in the tech community. The AI scientists are currently in talks with investors about starting an innovative AI company in Paris.

They’re eyeing an impressive first funding round, hoping to raise around 200 million euros (about $217.84 million). And with such a big move, they’re igniting new possibilities in the AI world.

Holistic — the new startup

Their startup, tentatively named Holistic, aims to be a game-changer in AI with its advanced AI model. While Google and DeepMind haven’t shared much about this project, the potential it holds is evident. The researchers could potentially shake the industry and rival big names like Microsoft’s ChatGPT. 

ecommerce news

Over at Google, things are shifting, too. Following a significant workforce reduction of 12,000 employees in early 2023, the tech giant is far from hitting the brakes. The company is now reshaping its ad sales division, leveraging AI to boost efficiency. 

Google has informed employees impacted by these changes and is actively encouraging them to explore different job opportunities within the company.

CEO Sundar Pichai is candid about these challenges, emphasizing the need for forward-thinking steps to ensure a brighter future. As the tech world evolves, these changes signal an exciting and transformative era ahead.

What does it mean for eCommerce sellers?

As Google and other tech giants continue to evolve their AI capabilities, eCommerce sellers must also be mindful of the ethical and privacy implications of using such technology. Ensuring that customer data is responsibly handled and transparently will be crucial in maintaining consumer trust in an increasingly AI-driven marketplace.

MORE: 5 Reasons Why You Need To Take Advantage Of Google Analytics

Big Retailer News

HoloTile: Disney Unveils VR Treadmill for Multiple Users

Have you heard of Disney’s groundbreaking VR innovation — HoloTile? If not, then you’re in for a treat.

HoloTile is a versatile sliding floor that enables multiple users to move freely in any direction simultaneously. Disney’s engineer and inventor, Lanny Smoot, describes the creation as  “the world’s first multi-person, omnidirectional, modular, expandable, treadmill floor.” 

HoloTile revolutionizes locomotion in VR by allowing users to explore virtual worlds without the need for physical movement, avoiding collisions with the real world.

What can we expect from HoloTile?

HoloTile’s potential applications are boundless, offering exciting possibilities for collaborative experiences, sightseeing adventures, and even theatrical performances. 

Lanny Smoot envisions scenarios where groups of people can gather in a room and collectively transport themselves to different places while freely moving around. Theatrical stages could incorporate HoloTile technology, enabling dancers to execute breathtaking moves. 

While the specifics of how this technology operates remain undisclosed, its ability to support multiple users and its sleek design make it a captivating glimpse into the future of VR.

While the HoloTile is a remarkable innovation, it may still present technical challenges and limitations for consumer use. Nevertheless, Disney’s inventive approach to addressing the locomotion problem in VR has opened up new avenues for exploration in the field. 

As we await further details on the technology’s workings, it is clear that HoloTile represents a promising step forward in the evolution of virtual reality, offering exciting prospects for immersive experiences and entertainment.

What does it mean for eCommerce sellers?

This technology offers the potential for creating highly immersive virtual showrooms where customers can collaboratively explore products in a dynamic, 3D environment, effectively bridging the gap between online shopping and physical retail experiences. 

More than that, HoloTile could revolutionize product demonstrations and launches, enabling eCommerce platforms to offer unique, interactive events where multiple users can engage with products in a virtual space, significantly enriching the online shopping experience.

MORE: How to Sell on eBay and Make Money

Amazon Warns About Third-Party Apps

Amazon is urging its sellers to be cautious when using third-party apps, emphasizing the importance of using vetted and approved apps. 

Previously known as the Amazon Seller Central Partner Network, the Amazon Selling Partner Appstore provides a wide range of Amazon-approved tools designed to help sellers boost their efficiency and profitability.

Third-party apps available in the Amazon Appstore can either be stand-alone or integrated directly with Seller Central, all providing access to the same data through Marketplace Web Services and Selling Partner APIs. While these apps set their own prices, Amazon ensures that they comply with regulations, safeguard seller data, and adhere to Amazon’s policies. 

Developers interested in featuring their Amazon apps in the app store can visit Developer.AmazonServices.com.

By emphasizing the importance of vetted and approved third-party apps, Amazon aims to help sellers enhance their operations and make informed choices when selecting tools from the Amazon Selling Partner Appstore. 

This initiative ensures that sellers have access to reliable and secure software solutions to streamline their eCommerce businesses efficiently.

What does it mean for eCommerce sellers?

For eCommerce sellers on Amazon, the company’s emphasis on using vetted and approved third-party apps means enhanced security and reliability in managing their online businesses. 

By choosing apps from the Amazon Selling Partner Appstore, sellers can be sure of compliance with Amazon’s standards and regulations, ensuring the safety of their data and operations. 

MORE: How to Sell on Amazon Prime

Also in the News 

International Retailer News

Europe’s Newest Unicorn: ElevenLabs

ElevenLabs has come a long way since its inception as a startup just over a year ago. With the recent announcement of an $80 million Series B funding round, the company has achieved unicorn status, with a valuation of over $1 billion. 

The significant increase in valuation, from around $100 million, is a testament to the rapid growth and potential of ElevenLabs in the voice cloning market.

The company’s browser-based speech generation app stands out for its unique features, allowing users to adjust toggles for intonation, emotion, cadence, and other key vocal characteristics. The level of customization ensures that the generated voices are incredibly lifelike and tailored to suit various applications.

One of the remarkable aspects of ElevenLabs’ technology is its versatility. The app’s capabilities extend beyond generating voices for personal use or entertainment purposes. 

It has gained recognition in industries such as audiobooks, film dubbing, character voices for games, and marketing activations.

As for ethical concerns…

However, the rise of AI technology and voice cloning has raised ethical concerns regarding the responsible use and potential misuse of these advancements. 

As ElevenLabs continues to innovate in the voice AI research and product deployment space, the company recognizes the importance of addressing these issues and ensuring the ethical development of its technology. 

One of the main concerns surrounding the company is the negative publicity it has received due to the misuse of its tools. Instances of generating hateful messages or fooling authentication systems have raised ethical questions about the responsible use of AI technology.

It seems that the internet is divided on this one — but what are your thoughts on voice cloning AI? Hit or miss? Make sure to leave a comment down below.

What does it mean for eCommerce sellers?

ElevenLabs’ innovative voice cloning technology has garnered attention and adoption from influential companies across various industries. Notable among these companies are Paradox Interactive and The Washington Post, who have embraced ElevenLabs’ tools to enhance their content creation and engagement strategies. 

The voice cloning technology enables the creation of highly realistic and customizable voice content, which can be a game-changer for digital marketing and customer interaction strategies.

With voice cloning, eCommerce businesses have the opportunity to personalize audio content for their customers, making shopping experiences more immersive and enjoyable. 

MORE: If you’re interested in ElevenLabs, then you should also take a look at Murf AI, which offers text to speech voiceovers, and other voice cloning services.

Alibaba’s Knockoff of Iranian Drone Controversy

Are eCommerce sellers getting bored? We have slight suspicions after this particular Alibaba incident… 

In a twist that caught the world’s attention, a Chinese company caused quite a stir when it put up an Iranian military drone for sale on Alibaba. The drone, strikingly similar to the ones from Iran’s Shahed series, appeared initially without its payload and was quickly removed from the site once it started drawing attention.

The company behind this unusual offer, Sunlipo Energy Shenzen Co Limited, listed the drone (named XHZ-50) for $57,000. 

Alibaba users couldn’t help but notice its remarkable resemblance to Iran’s Shahed 136, often labeled as a “suicide drone.” 

Needless to say, the peculiar incident shed some light on the growing issue of counterfeit products making their way into online markets. After all, do customers actually know where the items they buy come from? As for Alibaba — allowing users to sell products resembling ‘suicide drones’ is probably not the type of marketing they should strive for. 

Although the contentious drone listing has since vanished from Alibaba, it remains a vivid example of the ongoing struggle against fake and unauthorized products in the international market. 

What does it mean for eCommerce sellers?

For sellers, it’s a stark reminder of the importance of thoroughly understanding and vetting the products they offer to ensure they are legitimate and do not infringe on legal or ethical boundaries.

Also in the News 

Webinars

For everyone 

Various dates: Amazon advertising’s global webinar program continues with 20+ webinars scheduled, covering Amazon Prime Day preparation, sponsored products, sponsored brands, reporting, optimization, and other tips. 

Learn more: Amazon.

For US sellers

February 7: The Amazon and Retail Media Summit. Learn more: Tinuiti

For UK sellers

Various dates: Amazon advertising’s global webinar program continues with 20+ webinars scheduled, covering Amazon Prime Day preparation, sponsored products, sponsored brands, reporting, optimization, and other tips. 

Learn more: Amazon.

Author

Dominika Kaminska

Dominika Kaminska

Amazing content you need, amazing content we deliver. Whether you need marketing, eCommerce, or news digest related to eCommerce, Dominika is here to guide you through it all. You will also find her in the top tips section, giving only top-notch advice.

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