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broadcasting basketball on Twitter and the rise of virtual assistants


Zone’s Letty Key handpicks and shares the five best stories on new digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. Mastercard is lost for words

The Consumer Electronics Show often steals the headlines around this time of year, but for me, the news that Mastercard has created a new logo is right up there with the announcement of IBM’s first commercially available quantum computer.

I use the term ‘new’ loosely, as all they’ve done is remove the word Mastercard from the interlocking circles, but it shows the company is increasingly looking through a digital lens as it prepares for the possibility of a cardless future. Joining the likes of Nike and Apple makes sense, as screen real estate is a priceless commodity and fitting a legible word on a smartwatch display can prove challenging.

2. Subscription service makes IoT more secure

Following news that the number of online attacks on IoT devices grew by 600% from 2016 to 2017, Global media and tech company Comcast has launched xFi Advanced Security, a service that uses machine learning to monitor what is ‘normal’ behaviour, blocking threats and alerting customers when it detects anything out of sorts.

As the number of smart devices in each household grows, the subscription service looks set to address a very real need. Many people keenly adopt these devices for their ease of use, which means they could be the same people who struggle with responding to threats. Not only does xFi Advanced Security alert and block where it can, it also educates the owner for the future. Knowledge is power, after all.

3. Virtually assisting the digital workforce

So new research from Gartner proposes that by 2021 (that’s only two years away now, folks!) a quarter of digital workers will be using a virtual work assistant on a daily basis. And to give you a frame of reference, the figure currently stands at 2%.

Developments in AI and voice interfaces are set to drive the increase, which evangelists believe will ultimately boost employee productivity. Whether the likes of Alexa for Business will become more adept at filtering and handling commands from disparate, competing voices in an open-plan office, or if the tech will be confined to meeting rooms, remains to be seen.

4. Player-cam bounces on to Twitter

Sports fans rejoice. Twitter has announced a partnership with the NBA to broadcast basketball games on its platform. Well, sort of. The experimental arrangement will see the social media site stream the second half of games, with a camera that focuses exclusively on the player voted for by Twitter users.

It’s an interesting business decision and could surface insights into whether people are keen to “follow” players of their choice, making the drama more personal. But more than anything it highlights the dilemma faced by TV execs as the number of fans willing to pay for traditional TV dwindles and they turn to digital alternatives like Amazon, Facebook and Google instead.

5. X marks the spot (or not)

What better way to finish off than with a fascinating detective story? It’s a long read, but excellently highlights how every digital decision you make may have an unequal impact somewhere, no matter how removed from the real world it seems. It’ll be of particular interest to anyone involved in problem solving and risk prediction.

Long story short (spoiler alert!) — by picking a random (or not so random) spot on a map as the long-lat for IP addresses that couldn’t be traced to their more precise location, cartographers and data providers for the US military inadvertently subjected several innocent South African families to accusations of crimes ranging from theft to kidnapping. Let this be a lesson that every action has a reaction!

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