When everything else falters, trust games, automation and AI to lift businesses up. That explains why an overwhelming share of action in the world of business during the past week has centered around these three.
With more people likely to stay indoors or work from home on account of Covid-19, businesses and investors have realised the incredible potential of apps and products that service the stay-at-home consumer. This product range is overwhelming – entertainment, education, business conferencing, upskilling via professional learning, healthcare, gaming – you name it.
The business instincts are in the right place – Sony has invested $250 million for a minority stake in Fortnite maker (which has more than 350 million registered users) Epic Games to bolster its offerings in in technology, entertainment, and “socially connected online services. Gaming apps have seen a burst of downloads in recent months and the latest star seems to be Thatgamecompany‘s latest release ‘Sky: Children of the Light’ that saw 20 million downloads since its launch on April 7, 2020. Traplight has launched Battle Legion mobile game and raised $9 million in fresh funding. VENN unveiled 20 hours of weekly video game programming for broadcast TV aimed at Gen Z and millennials. Activision‘s mobile label King is making a new Crash Bandicoot game.
Automated cars segment now has Amazon offering to buy Zoox, the self-driving car startup valued at $3.2 billion. Elon Musk’s Tesla is reported to be ‘very close’ to level 5 autonomous driving. Automakers and tech companies, including Alphabet, Waymo, and Uber, are now investing billions in the autonomous driving industry.
The action has reached healthcare companies as well, who are innovating and adapting to cater to clients. Companies like TempTraq adapted their temperature monitor device to enable healthcare workers to remotely monitor fever and temperatures in their patients without having to come in contact to collect that data! Digital Aerolus developed a drone to disinfect interior spaces across healthcare environments, office buildings and other areas with multiple surfaces. Ava, a med-tech company in Switzerland, developed biometric bracelets that collect data related to skin temperature, heart and respiration rates. Kernel raised $53 million to accelerate development of a new generation of brain tech to help companies leverage insights from neuroscience.
Data continues to be at the forefront – Verizon Media launched a set of resources for developers to help visualize and analyze available data. Leaders in different countries are focussing on initiatives that enable mobile phone contact-tracing. Google and Apple are working together in the contact tracing effort.
XM Cyber, a startup dedicated to exposing cyber attack vectors, has also raised $17 million. This is important. The cost of a data breach in late 2020 may exceed $150 million, Juniper Research has said, which is terrible news for small businesses that experience 43% of cyber attacks across the world.
The Joint AI Center (JAIC) at the Pentagon is moving its lethal AI projects into a testing phase now. Its acting director Nand Mulchandani said the projects would involve full human control and a “flagship product” for joint war fighting operations.
Microsoft Teams is getting bolstering its AI-powered features to “make virtual interactions more natural, more engaging, and ultimately, more human.”
Google will begin showing quick facts related to photos in Google Images, enabled by AI. Microsoft announced a series of updates to Azure AI, the umbrella brand for its AI products targeting health care, financial, agricultural, and other industries. It also launched Text Analytics for Health, a feature that enables health providers and researchers to generate new insights from electronic medical records.
Hmph. Just too much action, too much energy in the tech-business space. Challenging times but like someone said, unprecedented problems lead to unique solutions.