The Last Week In Digital - 17th June 2016

Microsoft makes huge acquisition, Facebook hints at its future


Microsoft buys LinkedIn

Of course, the biggest story of the week is Microsoft’s gargantuan $26 billion acquisition of professional social network LinkedIn, adding another considerable feather to the tech giant’s cap. LinkedIn has become both a social network and a hub of business-focussed content, but had been struggling on the stock market. The news came just months after LinkedIn’s shares plummeted following weaker-than-expected growth forecasts for the year, and LinkedIn is just the latest tech company to return to a private company.

For LinkedIn, the move takes it off a stock market that has been unforgiving to it in recent months. For Microsoft, the benefit of the acquisition is a little more difficult to pin down, but if they can extract value from what is a hugely popular social network - 433 million people use it - as well as a content leader, the return could be significant.

IBM enters self-driving car free-for-all

If you were to make a list of companies you’d expect to be working on driverless cars, IBM would probably be, at best, an afterthought. The likes of Google, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan are all steaming ahead with the development of autonomous vehicles that could fill our cities in just a handful of years. But IBM, working with Local Motors, have revealed ‘Olli’ - an electric, driverless, 3D printed vision of the future.

To look at Olli, you’d say it owed more in terms of its design to an airport transport vehicle or a tram than to a car, but the direction it represents is a genuinely exciting one. According to Tech Times, Local Motors are looking to ‘reinvent the whole practice of building (and rebuilding) vehicles.’ The sustainable, autonomous bus might not be everyone’s immediate image of an automated future, but it is certainly one of the most viable.

Facebook to go ‘all video’ in five years

The direction and future of Facebook is under almost constant discussion, but it seems the landscape for the ubiquitous social media giant is video-focused. Once a site on which users would share updates about their lives, text posts are declining rapidly and media is almost completely taking over. Picture content has given way to video content and Facebook’s algorithmic changes mean the site now favous both uploaded and live video.

According to Facebook’s vice president in Europe, Middle East and Africa, Nicola Mendelsohn, the site will ‘probably be all video’ in five year’s time. 360 video and Facebook live will be used to offset the ‘year-on-year decline on text’ that otherwise threatens Facebook’s user engagement. Facebook may not be so much of a ‘social’ network anymore, and more of a content aggregation service. Its future? ‘If I was having a bet, I’d say: video, video, video.’

Researchers solve one of VR’s key issues

VR is some way from becoming a household item. Price is its main drawback at present, but it will also take a while to convince people to engage with what is quite a niche product at its core. One issue that has been combated, though, is nausea. Some users have experienced a wooziness or nausea as their body struggles to deal with the in-VR movement but relative lack of movement outside of it.

But researchers from the University of Columbia have found the answer. By subtly adjusting the user’s ‘field of view’ (FOV) nausea has been all but abated. By reducing the FOV slightly when potentially nauseating movement is taking place, user’s reported no wooziness and most barely noticed the change. VR is, currently, very much imperfect - it's very expensive - but with the removal of nausea, the technology has taken one more step to being a properly viable form of entertainment. 

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