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Home > Smart Living> Innovation > This week in tech: From Pokémon Go to the Parker Solar Probe

This week in tech: From Pokémon Go to the Parker Solar Probe

A look what made news in the world of technology, including futuristic hybrid shopping malls and a spacecraft that touched the Sun’s outer atmosphere

FILE - This image made available by NASA shows an artist's rendering of the Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun.
FILE - This image made available by NASA shows an artist's rendering of the Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun. (AP)

Did you know that around 63% of users of the video-conferencing platform Zoom prefer taking calls with their camera on? This was just one of the many interesting findings from a year-that-was survey conducted by Zoom. If that's news to you, read on to know more about other developments in the world of science and technology, including an astounding announcement by Nasa about the Parker Solar Probe.

Flying close to the sun

An amazing announcement dropped from Nasa this week when the US space agency revealed that its Parker Solar Probe, a craft that is flying closer to the Sun than any mission in history, touched the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona. The actual event, which took place in April, was during the spacecraft’s eighth close approach to the Sun. Scientists said it took a few months to get the data and several more months to confirm it. Parker was 13 million kilometres from the centre of the Sun when it first crossed the jagged, uneven boundary between the solar atmosphere and outgoing solar wind. The spacecraft dipped in and out of the corona at least three times; it was a smooth transition each time, according to scientists. “Humanity has touched the Sun,” said Nicola Fox, director of Nasa’s heliophysics division.

Kat Norton aka Miss Excel.
Kat Norton aka Miss Excel.

How to be a technology influencer 

By now everyone has heard of Kat Norton aka Miss Excel, the Instagram and TikTok influencer who was profiled by The Verge on 30 November as “An Excel Tiktoker who manifested her way to making six figures a day”. This week, the story suddenly spiked in popularity and broke the internet. Norton’s not the only one, though. It does seem to have been a good year for tech vloggers, YouTubers and influencers.

Also read: Drones, smart glasses and the other best gadgets of 2021

If you are looking to discover the next greatest influencer, you could start by following the work of creators like Canadian YouTuber Linus Sebastian (Linus Tech Tips), American YouTubers Marques Brownlee (@mkbhd on Instagram) and Sara Dietschy (@saradietschy on Instagram), and the ever-popular Lewis George Hilsenteger, known professionally as Unbox Therapy, a Canadian unboxing and technology YouTuber. Start watching if you want to be the next Miss Excel.

Hybrid shopping malls by 2030?

Your nearest shopping mall of the future could be a hybrid one, with everything from a hybrid gym, which combines treadmills with virtual reality, to restaurants that will let consumers eat virtually with friends in other outlets. These are some of the interesting survey results from the latest Ericsson ConsumerLab Insight report, released this week, which focused on some of the hot consumer trends for 2030. For the report, early adopters of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and digital assistants from 14 major global cities, including Delhi, were asked to evaluate 15 hybrid shopping mall facilities that extend the physical consumer experience with digital technology. Almost 79% of the respondents believe concepts such as an AR/VR zoo, immersive beauty salons and factory outlets that recycle their old products while selling new ones will be a reality by 2030.

For a recap of the year that was, Zoom conducted a survey with a part of its global customer base in November and collected responses from nearly 1,700 people to understand how they used the platform.
For a recap of the year that was, Zoom conducted a survey with a part of its global customer base in November and collected responses from nearly 1,700 people to understand how they used the platform. (Courtesy: Zoom)

Zoom in on this

Did you know that around 63% of the users of the video-conferencing platform Zoom prefer taking calls with their camera on? For a recap of the year that was, Zoom conducted a survey with a part of its global customer base in November and collected responses from nearly 1,700 people to understand how they used the platform. Around 47% of the respondents said it’s never okay to eat during meetings, while 26% never, or almost never, shower before hopping on to a call. Further, usage data from a 12-month period (15 November 2020 to 15 November 2021) revealed that Zoom was used across 200 countries and territories. While the average meeting length was 54 minutes, the average meeting size was 10 participants.

FILE PHOTO: John Hanke, creator of Pokemon Go and Chief Executive Officer of Niantic gestures during his keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 28, 2017.
FILE PHOTO: John Hanke, creator of Pokemon Go and Chief Executive Officer of Niantic gestures during his keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 28, 2017. (REUTERS)

Pokémon on the go

Niantic, the American company behind the mega-popular Pokémon Go AR-based mobile game, recently announced that it is encouraging users to scan real-world, physical landmarks around them to create its “real-world metaverse”—a clear dig at the Meta (formerly Facebook) announcement that it is building a digital metaverse. In fact, Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke has referred to the metaverse, which will presumably let users be immersed in a make-believe world through VR headsets, as a “dystopian nightmare”. Niantic believes AR tech should bring people closer to the physical world rather than disconnecting them from it, and this new feature, which will create user-generated data that will help enhance the PokéStops and Gyms within the game, actually incentivises users to do so. “Now scanning a PokéStop will cause it to ‘power-up’, yielding better in-game rewards for any player who visits the stop before said power-up wears off,” technology news website TechCrunch reported.

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