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What caught my eye in tech: April 2020

Every month in 2020, I’m going to be sharing the top 5 interesting things in tech that have caught my eye. Enjoy!

1. Formula 1 takes racing online

With pretty much all spectator sport cancelled or postponed, many governing bodies and sporting organisations are looking for new ways to engage with fans. The team behind Formula 1 staged a virtual Bahrain Grand Prix in which current drivers took part in an e-sports event streamed to fans around the world. A total of 3.2 million people watched the event, a staggering number! With over 200,000 watching across the Sky Sports network alone, it comfortably beat any recent Formula 2 event broadcast.

It’s well documented that e-sports is growing at a rapid rate and many traditional sports outlets investing heavily in the sector. With Covid-19 still showing no signs of letting up, will we see e-sports accelerate into the mainstream? Equally, will we see some of e-sport’s biggest stars rising to the fore, taking on the household names of sport as the worlds of virtual and reality merge? Quite possibly. We’re certainly one step closer that’s for sure.

More on the event via Sports Pro Media

2. Travis Scott X Fortnite

Travis Scott x Fortnite concert opening scene

Continuing on the virtual theme, this absolutely blew my mind… 12 million people tuned in to a Travis Scott concert held virtually within Fortnite. The previous highest ever recorded attendance to a concert is 3.5 million. Incredible.

Not only are the numbers staggering but the creative concept of bringing together gaming, music and fashion is incredibly forward thinking. The visuals were stunning and the overall set incredibly immersive as the Fortnite world morphed to reflect the tracks being played. When Fortnite first came out I gave it a go, and like many, I was absolutely terrible at it. I didn’t catch the concert live but if it were to happen again, having watched the recordings, I’d certainly be jumping back into it. If you didn’t get a chance to watch it highly recommend you do.

This felt like the start of something big, redefining what a live experience can be in a post-Covid-19 world. It’s cross-border with a truly global audience potential and presents endless possibilities for ‘out-of-this-world’ engagement.

More on the event via The Verge

3. The battle for the remote video conferencing platform of choice hots up

Zoom is on fire right now. Daily active users rocketing upwards as fast as its share price and ‘zoom parties’ fast becoming as recognised a saying as ‘Netflix and chill’. Everything should be rosy but the company has faced heavy criticism due to multiple privacy concerns. Most recently, media outlets have picked up on Google’s message to employees that the product is banned, adding to the negativity. This should come of no surprise given Google has its own competing product – why would they want their own employees promoting the use of a competing product?

What’s interesting here though is at that around the time of the ban, Google completely switched the offering of their product and in doing so has indicated it’s going after Zoom’s crown. The first of these changes is the name as it matures from Google Hangouts to Google Meet, but even bigger than that is a move to a freemium model. It’s quite clear Google is recognising the battle for the defacto video conferencing platform is on and it’s now or never, especially as remote working tools are in a period of high first-time adoption.

Looking at the latest figures, Google currently attracts a third of the users Zoom is reporting so it has some catching up to do! What about Microsoft Teams? Well that sits some way behind Google so arguably the underdog, although it is more than simply a video conferencing tool.

More on Google’s change to Hangouts via TechCrunch

4. The BBC leans on its talent roster to aid UK homeschooling during lockdown

With schools shut across the UK, homeschooling parents have been given a helping hand by the BBC. Through employing the services of well-known experts and celebrities, a revised BBC Bitesize study program has been created spanning the breadth of education up to A-Level, and available across the BBC network. Manchester City’s superstar striker Sergio Aguero has been teaching Spanish, David Attenborough and Brian Cox teaching about science and geography, and even Danny Dyer jumping in and teaching history.

With a lineup like that, who wouldn’t want to go to school? Huge hats off to the BBC for creating such a compelling offering to students and pushing out the content within a month of lockdown starting. The abrupt change to students and parents lives is tough enough as it is, especially during exam time, and any initiative to aid support during this high-pressure period warrants praise.

More via The Guardian

5. Facebook steps in to stop the spread of misinformation on Covid-19

In the quest to stop the spread of misinformation across its platform, Facebook has announced it will take the bold step of warning people who have been exposed to harmful information relating to Covid-19. I call this step bold as Facebook has a history of taking a hands-off approach, particularly in regards to politics. The news has naturally called for Facebook to do more in this area but does at least shows an openness to addressing one of the biggest criticisms of its platform. Here’s hoping this is not just a one-off.

More via The Guardian

One more thing: Nosalgic Data Storage

This caught my eye on Twitter and is a prime example of a piece of trivia I never knew but thought I should! What is that piece of Trivia you ask? The cassette tape is a miniature form of a less recognised data storage medium, the cass. Who knew?! As I scrolled through this Twitter post many more people have responded with images of storage mediums from decades past, which sparked a bit of nostalgia, and some surprise as it turns out there are many more I was unaware of. Take a look, I’ll bet there’s a few in there unknown to you.

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