From zoom to audio, VR boom

If the work of the future is to be a hybrid of home and office, technology is doing its best to achieve a more realistic semi-presence for employees, now that they will have to meet in a combination of conference rooms and bedrooms behind.

Janina Conboye describes an average working day at home in London: “It’s raining, but I’m busy in a world of tropical islands suspended in the air over a blue sea, taking notes on a blackboard during a brainstorming session. Later I teleport to the ‘rooftop’ bar to shoot hangers and drink a virtual beer with my colleagues. “

She describes Gemba’s VR world, where, through an Oculus headset, immersive executive masterclasses and other collaborative meetings are enhanced by 3D presentations, virtual Post-it notes and whiteboards. The VR tools are designed to help avoid Zoom fatigue and encourage more natural exchanges – or “water cooler” moments.

Richard Waters reports that Zoom is responding to this challenge (and a more urgent one from Microsoft’s teams) by spending $ 100 million on nurturing its ecosystem. It will invest in apps related to its video conferencing service, putting in between $ 250,000 and $ 2.5 million. in every startup that builds new ways for Zoom users to “meet, communicate and collaborate”.

Meanwhile, Facebook has revealed its own response to Zoom fatigue, in the form of a number of features that allow users to host audio conferences and podcasts.

Its chief Mark Zuckerberg said Monday that the social network planned to roll out live audio to its users as well as new tools that allow them to search, create and monetize podcasts over the next three to six months.

While users may actually be tired of constantly having to be on camera for meetings, the move seems more of an immediate threat to Clubhouse audio startup than to Zoom. Facebook has never been afraid to copy a social success, and Clubhouse became the fastest growing social media app in the world earlier this year by providing a platform to discuss topics such as entrepreneurship, politics and the latest news.

Internet of (five) things

1. Tesla’s China Challenge, Oz lithium fusion
Chinese carmakers are launching more than a dozen models at the Shanghai Motor Show this week in their attempt to overthrow the Tesla Model 3 sedan as the country’s best-selling electric car. Elsewhere, Australian mining groups Orocobre and Galaxy Resources are planning to merge into a $ 4 billion deal. (US $ 3.1 billion) deal that would create one of the world’s largest lithium producers as rising demand for electric vehicles puts turbocharged prices on metal batteries.

2. The UK is looking at digital currency
The Treasury and the Bank of England on Monday announced a joint task force to evaluate the creation of a central bank’s digital currency to secure the future of sterling against cryptocurrencies and improve the payment system.

3. The UK must examine the Arm-Nvidia agreement
The United Kingdom has opened a formal investigation into Nvidia’s planned acquisition of 40 billion. USD by Arm, the British chip designer, after the government said the deal could create national security problems. In the United States, the agreement is already under review by the Federal Trade Commission.

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4. Tan to grab a large controlling share
Malaysian Internet entrepreneur Anthony Tan will increase his control of his company Grab dramatically when the Southeast Asian technology group joins the Nasdaq later this year. In a move that would envy his Silicon Valley colleagues, Grabs CEO and co-founder will have 60.4 percent of the vote in the company, while owning a 2.2 percent stake.

5. Thick grooms pet business for success after Covid
Chewy, which sells everything from treats to remote health care to pets, has proven to be a big online winner during the pandemic, as Americans turned to animals for comfort. Its annual revenue rose 47 percent to $ 7.2 billion. USD, and its shares are trading at about three times their pre-pandemic price. Dave Lee says it has a post-lockdown strategy for continued success.

Tech week ahead

Monday: The tech earnings season kicks off IBM reporting after the clock tonight.

Tuesday: Investors will be focused on new members when Netflix updates after reaching a subscriber base of around 200 million. at the end of 2020, which added 37 million. paying customers during the lockdown-plagued year. The video streaming pioneer is also seeking to expand its customer base in markets such as India, where it is rolling out its largest list of local movies and shows to date, while fighting for an advantage over fast-growing rivals Disney and Amazon Prime. Apple expected to unveil new iPads at their Spring Loaded event at 10 Pacific Time.

Wednesday: The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a nomination hearing for Lina Khan, President Biden’s choice to join the Federal Trade Commission. She has been a vocal critic of Amazon and Big Tech. A panel in the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from Apple and Google at app stores. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) provider UiPath will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange after listing on Tuesday. That European Commission must publish a follow-up to its White Paper on Artificial Intelligence.

Thursday: Intel, the world’s largest chip producer by revenue, reports first-quarter earnings after the market closed. Camera app Snap also has results.

Technical tools – Sage’s Pizzaiolo

Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo £ 700, sageappliances.com

Pizzaiolo claims to be the only domestic table oven that repeats the burning 400ºC in a brick pizza oven, writes Jonathan Margolis:

It’s also foolproof: Even my first runs with poorly made dough and chronic topping were delicious, with leopard-stained, beautifully charred bases and ingredients ready in two minutes. Despite the Hades-like temperature, they were also fresh and juicy.

“Heat is added to the pizza in three algorithm-coordinated ways. The deck – a circle of cordierite stone – adds conductive heat to the underside of the base. There is a radiant heat source directed at the outer ring of the upper crust, and ambient convective heat, focused by parabolic deflectors, to prepare toppings without burning them. “

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