When we think of sport we think of athletes. Athletes that are at the top of their physical game, with abilities that simply defy the laws of gravity. Basketball fans have long admired Michael Jordan’s hang time, and the game of football has never been able to understand Cristiano Ronaldo’s headers which seem to stop time entirely. As we witness various industries digitally transform, the world of sport has not been left behind.
There has been a huge shift in technological advancement which has made it easier for athletes to optimise their performance and improve the experience for spectators at sporting events. Looking 10 years ahead, we can only imagine where the world of technology will take us in sport, but for now, we can marvel at the newest innovations of today which continue to change the pace of the game.
Team Jumbo Visma tearing up Tour de France – 2022
This year, Team Jumbo-Visma led the way, charging ahead of their components for the majority of the races. Jonas Vingegaard won the men’s race, and Marianne Vos claimed the green jersey for most points. Both riders were among the favourites for their respective titles, but one stark difference was the men’s team adopted the use of simulation to fully capitalise on the talent of Vingegaard, and winning the La Grande Boucle.
How does simulation play into this you ask? Fighting air resistance represents up to 90% of the energy spent by the athletes. Team Jumbo-Visma works with some of the best athletic aerodynamics experts in the world, using digital simulation to optimise performance through better aerodynamics. It consisted of solving vast, complex systems of equations with millions of unknowns to improve their performance. Simulation proved to be a pivotal cog in the winning machine!
Data driving football analysis and spectator engagement
Major Spanish football league, LaLiga has looked to its data architecture to better understand its players performance and importantly create a better more personalised experience for its fans. This is all being done through a lakehouse data architecture.
By combining the best attributes of a data lake and a data warehouse, the lakehouse is able to deliver better data management and performance through low-cost, flexible object stores. LaLiga has created a world where data informs almost every aspect of how sports are played and experienced. The data team at LaLiga uses data and AI for match statistics and in-play analysis, based on data from cameras in each club’s stadium. It allows data scientists at the clubs to perform pre- and post-match analysis and predict player injuries before they occur.
The future of technology in sport
There are many more advancements in tech which are changing the world of sport, but the best is likely yet to come. We’re on the cusp of a sports technology revolution with the global sports technology market being currently valued at US $17.9 billion and expectations to reach US $40.2 billion by 2026. However, some avid football fans would agree that VAR technology needs some work – depending on which side of a team you’re on!
As September approaches, the summer holiday season is almost over. It’s been great to get back to jetting off to exciting new destinations after a difficult few years for the travel industry. Yet as climate change dominates the headlines, many of us may be thinking more about the environmental impacts of travel than in previous years. Personally, I’ve been pondering whether travel tech could be the solution – let’s think this through together.
Climate concerns are soaring
Air travel is far from the most sustainable way to get from A to B for our summer holidays. Aviation represents 14% of greenhouse gas emissions produced in the EU. This may seem like a small figure, but when considering that rail only represents a 0.4% share, it’s easy to understand why planes are getting a bad rep.
The easy answer to this problem would be to encourage Europeans to take trains as a greener holiday transport method. A myriad of reasons blocks us from doing so at present, including a lack of continental standard for train manufacturing and an almost total absence of operators running trains across European borders. In short, pointing travellers to rail travel isn’t yet a viable option.
Whilst the EU continues its long and arduous journey to liberalising continental rail travel, climate change rages on. Record temperatures of 40.3°C were confirmed by the Met Office in July; an alarming development for all. Travel tech companies have responded with greener operations, leveraging the latest technology to ensure that people can still enjoy a summer break.
Travel tech in the airline industry
Whilst the UK’s beaches offer beautiful surroundings, if you do want to go abroad, chances are that you will be taking a plane. Thankfully, airlines are already making progress towards net-zero emissions goals, and innovations in travel tech are here to make flights even greener.
For example, Alaska Airlines implemented an AI-powered route optimisation tool. The software uses machine learning to assess a range of factors that affect the efficiency of a journey, such as air turbulence and weather conditions. If the AI finds a greener route, flight dispatchers are notified, and they make a final decision on if the recommended route should be followed. As such, safety is maintained at the same time as a more fuel-efficient route is created. It doesn’t get better than that!
Let’s go to the beach, beach, let’s go get away
Once you have arrived at your destination, you will need a place to stay. At present, accommodation accounts for around one fifth of tourism emissions. This may not sound like a lot, but if these emissions were wiped out, the industry would become 20% greener. That would certainly reduce the guilt burden for travellers.
The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance asks hotels to reduce their carbon emissions by 90% – how can travel tech support this endeavour? We can look to IoT devices for the answer. Smart hotel technologies, such as motion sensors for lights and occupancy sensors for air conditioning, can drastically reduce energy consumption. For example, a 2020 study found that implementing an IoT-enabled air conditioning system reduced daily energy usage by 20% during peak summer heat. Considering that this makes life easier for the user too, it’s a no-brainer.
Making travelling that little bit more guilt-free
While the industry still has a long way to go, travel tech is making strides when it comes to making our summer holidays more sustainable. If you’re a travel tech organisation that wants to shout about your commitment to a greener travel industry, get in touch!
The value of data has become an inescapable fact of the modern world. No sector, industry or market could claim to be better off without data-driven insights that allow them to make informed decisions. Today, business success is so often shaped by how well data is being used. Predicting the future, understanding the past, navigating the present – it all comes down to data.
So, what are some examples of the ways data has driven real life change in different markets? Let’s take a look.
Data-driven goals, on and off pitch
One example of the power of data in sports is in LaLiga. The sports league is using real-time streaming data generated by hundreds of cameras across stadiums, and deriving levels of actionable insights that were previously simply not possible.
Football teams are then using these insights to revolutionise the way the game is coached and played, amplifying performance. This means helping players get better at their game, and delivering more personalised fan experiences that change the way the game is enjoyed.
Media and Gaming
Online gaming is another sector which can reap huge amounts of understanding and insights by properly harnessing data. SEGA, a worldwide leader in interactive entertainment, is using real-time data to drive community activities, improve player experiences, and offer more personalised interactions. By harnessing data properly, the company has transformed the role of data science in the business, making it a key pillar for decision making.
This has also helped to fuel a collaborative culture when it comes to data, with the company’s internal data teams working with teams from external game studios – pooling together ideas and solutions to drive innovation and create an ever-improving experience.
Elsewhere, the energy industry is also reliant on data. Particularly at a time when prices are such a concern, and when pressures of climate change mean energy providers are needing to transform their operations. An example of this is Shell. Shell is acting on data analysis to change its model and cut down emissions and, according to its first energy transition progress report, published in April 2022, the company has already cut total emissions by 16% since 2016.
The data is being used for business intelligence as well as to spot problems at early stages, and before they cause major problems. For instance, in a plant in Nigeria, Shell has been able to remove bottlenecks and reduce boil-off gas from evaporation and associated flaring by 70%. This has the potential to cut carbon dioxide emissions at the plant by 130,000 tonnes a year.
It’s clear that the value of data is felt everywhere. From the world of sport, to gaming, energy, medicine, construction, and more. Harnessing data effectively is they key to driving long-lasting, tangible business success.
Imagine entering your workplace in a 3D world and heading into a meeting room where you greet your virtual colleagues. It feels like you are together, but in fact, you are at home wearing a VR headset as indeed they are, and perhaps on the other side of the world. We might not be too far off from this scenario.
The increased adoption of VR and augmented reality (AR) are evolving both work and play. In the short space of a few months, AR and VR have become inherently tied to the world of communications. When Facebook underwent a major rebrand and unveiled themselves as Meta last October, widening its reach outside of social media into the virtual reality space, the world took notice. And when Big Tech sets a trend, people follow. Virtual reality has even been touted as the next new way to experience hands-on training and development.
Modern workers are no strangers to communicating remotely. But the substantial impact of these technologies on the comms world will be their power to help us collaborate in ways that were unheard of before, bringing people together who might not otherwise meet, enabling authentic human interactions. From allowing creativity to flourish, to enabling communication (in a virtual space) with people across the globe. Here are my top three ways that VR could enhance your comms efforts:
Your space plays a key role in how creative you are. And for those of us in the comms industry, creativity is our driving force. If you do not feel inspired and comfortable in your surroundings, you will not perform at your best. Virtual spaces have the power to be much more effective than physical spaces in this way – simulating reality and allowing us to work in a virtual world where possibilities are endless.
VR meetings are also a powerful tool. Unlike Zoom calls, VR meetings enable you to see the physical presence of colleagues, making it much more like an in-person meeting. Understanding body language and the dynamics in the room are a valuable tool for gauging the feelings of your colleagues and making decisions accordingly. Plus, we can break free of the traditional office setting – who wouldn’t like to conduct meetings or draft an article, from the beach, or an inspiring historical landmark if that were possible one day?
As comms professionals, it is crucial to meet our audience where they are. Emotional connections are important, particularly for brands that are seeking to bolster authenticity in their interactions with potential customers. In fact, this is the heart of our business. People need to feel seen and heard in order to engage – and VR has the immense power to help with this, by leveraging technology that enables human connections regardless of location. Authenticity is also important when communicating with customers and clients – it’s crucial that we don’t underestimate the importance of a virtual hug during a time when many have been distanced.
How virtual reality could influence our daily lives has been a hot topic , described as the future of work, and for good reason. At the moment, the technology almost seems too good to be true – because it has the power to create a new level of seamless collaboration that was unheard of a few years ago. Brainstorming sessions are more powerful in person, and when physical location is no longer a factor, it is limitless what could be achieved.
VR has the power to make our day-to-day business easier, more productive, and more authentic – which is crucial for organisations to flourish. And while this technology is still developing, it could change everything that we know about human interaction and collaboration in the space of a few short years.
Some say that January feels like the ‘longest’ month of the year – and while that might not technically be true, it certainly went by in a blur. Now that February is done, we’ve had time to get in the swing of things and plan for the year ahead. People are shifting their focus away from the year that was, and thinking – what comes next?
The holidays have officially ended, Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and people seem to be looking to escape reality even further – stories about the metaverse, cryptocurrencies and other novel concepts dominated the headlines this month.
For those worried about robots taking over, this might not have been the best month. February was characterised by developments in the Artificial Intelligence space, with scientists in Japan developing a robot child with the ability to convey six facial expressions. Research also revealed that in many cases, AI-created faces appear more trustworthy than the real deal. Humans are not skilled at distinguishing between human faces and fake ones, making it important for safeguards to prevent the circulation of ‘deepfakes’ online.
People can now go on dates in the metaverse, and McDonalds even announced that they plan to open restaurants there by registering trademarks in the virtual space. YouTube also revealed plans for 2022, introducing the idea of verifying NFTs and watching games in the metaverse. Disney appointed an executive to oversee its metaverse strategy, joining other big tech giants as they invest millions in the virtual world.
There was, however, some worrying news from the metaverse, as experts raised concerns that violence and harassment are rampant, and steps should be taken to ensure that people remain safe when joining the virtual world. As Meta pivoted its strategy to the metaverse, the team hit a snag at the beginning of the month, with reports that they considered shutting down Facebook and Instagram in Europe if unable to process data from European users on US-based servers.
The cryptoverse sparked conversation, as investors set their sights on ‘’altcoins’’ to power online games and worlds. Bitcoin attempted to reassert its dominance over smaller challengers in the crypto space. Reports indicated that some cryptocurrencies have an enormous carbon footprint and could be damaging to the environment, leading experts to search for eco-friendly methods of engaging in virtual trading.
Gaming news took centre stage this month. Reports from 2021 revealed that the UK video game industry is booming, with M&A investment hitting £1.9bn last year. Wordle took the world by storm, and fans were shocked when the game was purchased by the New York Times, potentially putting the ability to play the game for free in jeopardy. After Microsoft’s purchase of industry-leading gaming company Activision Blizzard last month, Microsoft pledged to play fair as it sought public approval on the $68.7bn deal.
In futuristic health tech news, new technology is being trialled that enables paralysed people to walk again with an implant that mimics the away the spinal cord is activated by the brain. A medical trial being conducted on Australian sheep is also paving the way to help blind people see again through bionic eye technology.
That’s it for February’s tech news roundup. Sign up for our daily Firewire newsletter to get updates on top stories in the world of tech.
The end of last year seemed somewhat of a blur with the scramble to finish off campaigns, deliver end of year reports, start prepping for 2022 and not to mention personal planning for the holidays. So, for some, keeping abreast of technology news last month may not have been a priority.
Not to worry though, we have you covered. Here is a roundup of some tech news from the past month.
The battle for online safety privacy continued as Twitter prevented users from sharing pictures and videos of others without their permission, and Twitch rolled out AI to prevent banned users from rejoining the site. Shortly after this, proposals to make big changes to the UK’s Online Safety Bill were also announced.
The end of the year also announced a number of firsts:
There were also challenges for some of the biggest names in tech, with many placed under scrutiny. The Uber business model was challenged by both the UK and EU and, not long after, gig economy workers demanded visibility into how the apps they worked for used algorithms to make decisions. Apple and Google also faced criticism for holding a smartphone market monopoly by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Finally, separate outages hit AWS and Google’s calendar app, affecting thousands of customers.
In more positive news, there was lots of evidence that 2021 was a good year for many. The UK’s Digital Economy Council found that a quarter of the UK’s unicorns were created in 2021 alone, spotlighting the year as a time for innovation in the tech sector. And, on the ground, Strava’s data showed that people were 38% more active in 2021 than 2020. It’s good to hear we’ve all been taking care of ourselves! Although, let’s be honest, that may have tailed off during the festive period for some (most) of us…
And that’s it for our January roundup! Want to receive a daily news roundup of the biggest tech stories? Sign up to our Firewire here.
One of the tech stories that really caught my eye this month is Facebook’s focus on developing the metaverse. Recently, the company announced that it plans to hire 10,000 employees in the EU to work on this so-called metaverse, and it got me thinking – will the metaverse force us into changing the way we communicate, or will it just be another tech plaything that doesn’t really go anywhere?
When I think of the metaverse, I immediately imagine the OASIS from Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, one of my favourite sci-fi novels. In the book, the OASIS is described as “a massively multiplayer online game that had gradually evolved into the globally network virtual reality most of humanity now use on a daily basis,. The Steven Spielberg film adaptation of the book gives us a more fanciful description of the OASIS as, “a place where the limits of reality are your own imagination… except for eating, sleeping and bathroom breaks, whatever people want to do, they do it in the OASIS. And since everyone is here, this is where we meet each other. This is where we make friends.”
Could this be the Facebook vision? Could Mark Zuckerberg be the new James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS in the novel?
Maybe not exactly (and considering how the plot develops in the book, you kind of hope not either!) In fact, no one quite really knows yet what the real-life metaverse could look like, probably not even Zuckerberg himself. What we do know, in a broader sense, is that it’s going to be some kind of future iteration of the internet, made up of “virtual spaces” linked to a perceived virtual universe – that’s according to the Wikipedia’s description anyway.
This kind of concept is already beginning to enter our world – remember those Travis Scott and Ariana Grande’s concerts in Fortnite last year? Fortnite enthusiasts were thrusted into an immersive concert experience during gameplay, with each individual player able to freely roam around, “watching” the concert in whatever way they wanted. It was an immersive experience and a huge hit for Fortnite, to say the least, and we can expect the metaverse to be the next step up from this.
Levelling up immersive technology
Facebook doesn’t expect the true metaverse to be up and running until at least ten years from now, mainly because the immersive technology is not quite up to scratch yet, and, let’s face it, with Facebook’s history, no doubt they’ll be a few regulatory challenges along with way. That said, VR and AR have already come a long way since inception, with VR gaming particularly taking off in the last decade, and AR making waves in marketing campaigns and other commercial industries. But it’s still not something the average person comes across in their daily routine – this is the metaverse’s challenge at the moment. It’s a huge risk to spend time and money creating a whole new virtual world that’s only accessible via VR headsets or other equipment, only to find out that a limited number of people can access it because of the high price of the equipment and the computing power that is often needed to provide a well-executed VR experience.
It certainly will be a challenge to get the metaverse fully up and running, whether Facebook make the breakthrough or not, but investors are seeing the potential of it too – especially with COVID-19 separating friends and families, and people longing for a connection that isn’t just on a screen, you can totally see it becoming a way to better connect people.
What it means to communicate in the metaverse
Infrastructure and tech aside, though, if we really are seeing the metaverse in the next ten years, a real-life OASIS that could end up being our new normal, what will the affect be on the way we communicate?
For a start, in the corporate world, those long work Zoom calls could become a little more interesting in the metaverse. Imagine being able to see more than just a talking head on a screen and being able to walk around a virtual meeting room, or even a virtual office? Virtual meetings may become more inclusive, and a near-real life atmosphere of in-person meetings. There’s potential for meetings to become more creative if the metaverse allows for employees to create their own avatars or characters in the metaverse, which could completely change the perception and culture of your company, and how you communicate with your stakeholders. You could even have a metaverse CEO or leadership team and mould them into whoever you want them to be, regardless of who they really are on the outside. Quite a scary thought!
From a consumer-perspective, the metaverse could allow for an even better and personalised customer experience. Retailers could offer more immersive “try before you buy” services, like getting your metaverse person to try on the clothes you want in real-life. The ability of the metaverse to create pretty much any virtual environment also further feeds our curiosity about the world – Wikipedia pages in the metaverse could get a lot more chilling, if they’re able to transform them into an immersive experience, that’s for sure! But it could also help put more emphasis and action on certain topics too – like, if we’re able to immerse ourselves into the true effects of climate change in 50 or 100 years’ time in the metaverse, people, companies and governments may be more inclined to drive further action in the real world because they would be able to see and feel the affect it actually has – something which is difficult to communicate currently.
It goes without saying, though, that any new form of connectivity and experience in the virtual world doesn’t come without its issues when it comes to communication – the spread misinformation, cyberbullying and self-image issues are just some of the issues that have been born out of the social media era, and who’s to say that they could also be transcended in the metaverse too? If the metaverse aims to be like the OASIS, where anyone can be who they want to be, it could raise concerns of deceit between individuals if they aren’t who they say they are, scuppering relationships when they find out who they’re actually communicating with in real life. There also remains the ethics behind isolated worlds being owned by different companies and collecting our data, and monetising on every move we do in the metaverse. Beside what’s happening in the metaverse, there are also the concerns of what it could be doing to us as individuals on the outside and our real life communications – having even less distance from reality could spur on a mental health crisis, and while we might interact with more humans in the metaverse, the real human connection will still be lacking. To quote Ready Player One: “I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realised, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”
Whatever the metaverse might become in the future, whether it be a place we use in our daily lives, in our working lives, or simply as leisure, it will provoke huge shift in the way that we communicate and interact with each other. From even bigger, better and more personalised immersive storytelling to the rise and creation of fictitious influencers that only appear and take part in the metaverse. And as comms professionals, it could really be a gamechanger, whether we like it or not. We must be ready to take into account the opportunities in the metaverse, as well as the real impacts that the metaverse could have on an individual in the outside world.
The metaverse might not be arriving for a few years, but when it does, we must be ready for it.
Autumn is the season for new beginnings. Young people are back at school and parents are returning to the office – making this the ideal time of year to reflect on how we spend our time and what we can do to balance work and life.
As the days get shorter, darker and busier technology has the power to make our lives easier, but also the capacity to make them infinitely more complicated. In our pockets we hold the key to improving our physical and mental health through fitness, meditation and time management apps. On the other hand, smartphones can also damage our mental health through access to social media and ever-present news alerts delivering a brand-new reason to be anxious.
The top tech stories of the month reflect an increased focus on the power of tech to cure societal ills and also to exacerbate them.
Health tech is certainly having its moment. New inventions have the ability to monitor our health in ways that would have been inconceivable in the past. Probably in part due to the pandemic driving an increase in need for virtual health solutions, devices like Fitbit which were initially conceived to track fitness goals are now able to detect everything from skin temperature, stress and oxygen saturation to breathing rate.
Fitbit’s new snore detection feature gives a more holistic view of the user’s health by detecting abnormalities in sleep. Scientists have also devised a T-shirt that monitors the heart rate of the wearer with more accuracy than a chest strap. It’s safe to say that we can expect more health tech innovations on the horizon.
In addition to new technology that can potentially cure our physical woes, stories about the impact of social media on our mental health have dominated the headlines this month – and with good reason.
With the Age Appropriate Design Code coming into effect this month and sending shockwaves through the tech community, a spotlight has been shone on the potentially harmful impact of social media and unregulated internet access on the mental wellbeing of children and young people.
In August, Apple announced plans to begin scanning iCloud to detect photos of child sex abuse. The initiative was widely criticised by child privacy campaigners, which led to Apple indefinitely postponing the launch of the software earlier this month.
After revelations that Facebook knew about Instagram’s negative effects on the mental health of teenagers but did not act, a UK lawmaker, who is scrutinising the new heavily-critiqued Online Safety Bill, called for Facebook to be punished if they withhold evidence that social media channels can harm users.
Some social media companies are taking actions to combat the negative impacts of their platform on users’ mental health. Earlier this month, Twitter began testing a new safety mode to silence abuse and trolling on their platform. TikTok has also begun to roll out a new feature to help users that may be having suicidal thoughts. If users search terms such as ‘suicide’ they will be directed towards mental health support and local resources in their community.
While small, these actions have the power to really impact lives for the better. It’s common knowledge that technology opens the door to endless possibilities for solving physical and mental health issues, while also potentially causing significant harm to our mental health. As we enter the Autumn months, we all have to strike a balance to determine how much, and in what ways, we allow our tech to influence our daily lives.
That’s all for our September tech news roundup. Want to receive daily alerts to the top stories in tech? Sign up to Firewire here.
Last year, we witnessed a rather successful period for investment, seeing the highest amount of global IPO activity in a decade. This flurry continued into 2021, where the UK alone saw more than 50 companies go public, which was more than we saw in the whole of 2020. With the spate of floatation’s this year, are we seeing a healthier investment landscape?
What’s particularly interesting to see is that the second quarter of 2021 was the busiest in the US for tech listings for two whole decades. This is perhaps not surprising seeing as there has been a huge shift in the digital transformation during the pandemic, and a lot of the companies assisting us with this shift were able to attract new investment following their rapid growth during this period. This gust of IPO activity wasn’t solely in the US, as the UK experienced its own busy period seeing more IPOs during the first two quarters of 2021 compared with the whole of 2020.
Despite seeing a healthy market for IPOs in the UK, there still seems to be a redundance of tech companies coming over to list in the UK. It is well known that tech companies are put off by London’s stringent listing regulations and prefer an easier journey across the pond, but earlier this year, star players made their debut on the London market. Trust Pilot, Darktrace and Wise are a handful of firms that are paving the way for other tech companies to join them, following their successful IPOs which saw some of the stocks more than double in value. Unfortunately this wasn’t the tale for all tech listings in the UK after the highly anticipated listing of Deliveroo tumbled seeing the share price fall more than 30% on its first appearance. Luckily for them, shares have now somewhat recovered, finally creeping above its original listing price.
To assist with attracting more tech investment in London, UK regulators have now planned to reduce some of these rules, making it easier for tech companies to list in the UK to compete with the US and Europe post-Brexit. Along with this, here are our thoughts on why the UK is heating up as a top tech listing destination:
Dual-class share structures
Dual-class capital structures have been used in some of the most high-profile IPOs by technology companies, including the offerings by Facebook, Google and LinkedIn. Although there is an argument that dual-class structures destroy shareholder value, there is compelling evidence that these structures can benefit companies, shareholders, and capital markets. Some critics argue the listing rules applicable to the premium segment should be amended to permit dual-class share structures, alleviating the risk of a founder being derailed and removed as director. When a company’s reputation is tied to its founder, it means that the communication efforts to put a face and expertise to a brand isn’t lost.
Continued digital shift
The digital shift we are witnessing has been a long time coming especially with the accelerating effects of the pandemic. While the impact of Covid-19 has had a negative impact on many businesses, tech stocks have continued to boom. Whilst we are all keen to see the back of Covid, the efficiencies we’ve seen from moving many aspects of our lives online has been undisputed. If this digital wave continues to take off, we are likely to see more activity on the UK stock exchange as investors will back these techies who are experiencing rapid growth.
Leading tech eco-system
Companies will be attracted to list in London, with its lively tech scene, and access to all the right people in a diverse and strong talent pool. In addition to this, access to high-quality funding also demonstrates the depth of capital in the ecosystem, with the average seed round in London standing at £470k, compared with the global average of £360k. Entrepreneurs must innovate faster as we launch into a new era of digital transition, and many are flocking to build within the UK economy. In such a high-paced environment, tech firms will need to balance communications strategies carefully to engage with all stakeholders – potential new customers, existing customer, future workforce and investors.
London has already been crowned the tech capital of Europe, and with the market already looking healthier post-Covid-19, we are hopefully waiting to see more homegrown tech players make the transition from private to public.
The last days of summer are upon us, as leaves start to fall and we sharpen our pencils for the return to school, and for some of us, back to the office.
August, traditionally a month for holidays and time off, has seen many of us staycationing around the UK, as we wait for the traffic lights to change green. Brits are looking to escape to the sand and the sea in particular; with Devon and Cornwall two of the most popular locations of choice. However, though many of us have enjoyed our holidays, the world of tech certainly hasn’t taken a break! Here’s our round up of our favourite and extraordinary tech stories from August.
The streaming revolution has completely changed the way we view shows and movies, as we flick through thousands of options on our devices, whether to binge our guilty pleasure reality TV shows or hard-hitting true crime series. Late to the game, industry player Disney+ has posted a higher than expected user jump with 12.4 million new subscribers between April and June alone, and is now boasting a total of 116 million subscribers. Still, there’s a way to go until it catches up to Netflix, which boasts a massive 209 million subscribers.
Talking entertainment, TikTok has officially been heralded the world’s most downloaded app in 2020 as it beat out the other top four apps, all owned by Facebook. TikTok’s algorithmic feed of videos (the For You page) on your phone, provides addicting, never-ending entertainment as it builds a customised model of your favourite content. No wonder then that it has 500 million users.
We have all turned to our devices for almost every day-to-day interaction; ordering drinks at the bar, making payments with the sharp decline of cash and even tracking our mood; but the question this month in the headlines: the privacy conundrum. We routinely input data into our phones – and it’s a treasure-trove of information. Every day we are asked to upload our name, email, payment details, address, age etc. in apps or on sites without always completely understanding where our personal information will be stored. Should we have to hand this all over, to grab drink at the pub or a coffee on our way to work?
One company also making headlines around privacy concerns is Apple. The company has pledged a new anti-child abuse safeguarding system through tech searches for matches of abuse material on images uploaded to iCloud storage, but some critics argue it could be a ‘backdoor’ to spy on people. WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart called Apple’s system “very concerning”, stating WhatsApp will not adopt the technique.
Finally, good news, a huge breakthrough in the possibility to diagnosis dementia with AI with just one brain scan, as researchers from the University of Cambridge start trials to test their approach. Algorithms within their AI system will detect patterns in brain scans to identify the disease far earlier, giving doctors greater confidence in interpreting scans. It’s in its early stages, but definitely gives us hope!
That is our August roundup! Want to receive a daily news roundup of the biggest tech stories? Sign up to our Firewire here.
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