NBA Virtual Fan Experience

The COVID19 pandemic changed so many things about the world as we knew it. The sports industry was hit particularly hard, when all competition was cancelled and postponed in order to restrict any sort of gathering and transfer of the virus. As the months went on, and society begin to reopen and plan safe ways to conduct every day life, sport competition also resumed in a very unique way, without any spectators.

The NBA has found a way to get fans “into” the games without leaving their homes. Technology has made it possible to get virtual fans at the games, benefitting all parties involved. The NBA, in collaboration with Microsoft, created a viewing experience for fans to watch the game in real time through live streams. The veiwers’ camera is also turned on, and their video is projected in the virtual stands that surround the court in the Orlando Bubble at Disney Campus, where these special games are occurring.  The NBA is projecting this program to grow as the play offs begin, and are also hoping to get more sponsors and people involved.

Fans can sign up using a simple form on their individual team’s website, and other teams are offering the limited seats to season ticket holders and friends and family of the players. It does not cost anything to attend one of these games, if you are lucky enough to get selected. If fans are selected to virtually attend the game, they provide a username and password, and use Microsoft teams for communication and meeting purposes. There are some rules that come along with being a virtual fan, like only one person per seat, and no offensive language is prohibited.

People are really beginning to get used to doing everyday tasks virtually. Technology has made this time a little bit easier to adapt to these times, and there are new advancements everyday. Everyday pandemic life is changing everyday as people are finding new ways, such as the NBA virtual fan experience, to go about life as we knew it. This is so unique and it is also entertaining to watch all of the fans in their respective environments.



COVID-19 Brings Changes to Restaurant Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to the way people view everyday life, and this is especially true for consumer behavior. A recent poll states, “76% of consumers say that COVID-19 has changed how they look at behavior in public forever” (Restaurant Business Online). These new behavioral changes are impacting dine-in restaurants in the long run, as technologies are now becoming more involved in the industry. To limit as much contact as possible restaurants are implementing “digital or online-only menus”, as well as “touchless condiment dispensers.” Ultimately, this use of technology going forward appears it will have a large impact on giving peace of mind to customers, as 64% of consumers feel that shared condiment stations are not safe (Restaurant Business Online).

Overall, moving forward I truly believe more technology will continue to be placed into the restaurant industry. Technology can effectively limit what people touch and the amount of people consumers at restaurants come in contact with. I believe items such as touchless condiment dispensers will lead to more small tech changes within dining areas over the next couple of years. Perhaps an automated cleaning system will be capable of cleaning tables after consumers finish their meals. I can also envision restaurants using fewer hosts and hostesses and resorting to technology such as tablets to limit physical contact.

Unfortunately, although all these changes are interesting, I believe the use of this technology will have real economic ramifications on restaurant workers and could potentially place people out of work. In general, with COVID-19 pushing the world to a more distant and limited contact environment, I believe technology may continue to have harsh impacts on particular jobs.


Elon Musk’s Neuralink Update

In July of 2019, Elon Musk released a start up called “Neuralink” which is supposed to allow brains and computers to directly link together. The eventual goal is to build a “digital superintelligence layer” to link humans to developing AI technology, which he believes is humans’ greatest threat. Musk’s initial goal for Neuralink is to help people with brain or spinal cord injuries. This is huge, and has the potential to completely reshape technology as we know it. He has already tested it on monkeys and says they have been able to control computers with their brains.

Although he planned to have Neuralink up and running by now, he has an update today to show further research and illustrate how the program is working. It’s supposed to link the brain to a computer by installing slender electrodes into the brain – kind of like a sci fi movie, don’t you think?


Walmart Partners with Microsoft in Bid for TikTok

A large topic in the news recently has been the controversy surrounding the social media app TikTok. Over the last month TikTok and its parent company ByteDance have been under pressure from government officials as the app “poses a national security threat because it could provide data about U.S. users to Beijing”. These concerns have led to President Trump signing off on “an executive order mandating that TikTok sells its U.S. operations by mid-September or cease transactions within the country” (Isaac). The United States is one of the largest markets for the app in terms of active users. According to Alex Sherman from CNBC, TikTok has around “100 million monthly active U.S. users” and “about 50 million daily active U.S. users” (Sherman). This executive order along with an enormous market has resulted in many multi-billion dollar U.S. corporations placing offers for the platform. Likewise, today (8/27/20) news broke that Walmart would be partnering with Microsoft to invest in purchasing ownership of the app. Dan Ives, a financial analyst working for Wedbush Securities, believes that Walmart joining forces with Microsoft was “‘the final piece of the puzzle that ultimately cements Microsoft successfully acquiring TikTok’s U.S. operations for likely $35 billion to $40 billion'” (Isaac).

This situation with TikTok is reminding myself of similar topics that were discussed in today’s class, especially current trends such as social media and surveillance. The massive market of TikTok just in the United States alone is eye opening and assists in my understanding of how powerful social media platforms can be. Similarly, with nearly one third of the United States population using the app each month, TikTok storing user’s data could lead to very high stakes ramifications in the future. These consequences would not only be faced by individual users, but the entire country. Also, I believe this current event very well represents the trend of surveillance with technology, as the United States appears to be closely monitoring the platform and potential data that is being extracted from these devices containing the app. Likewise if the allegations against the ByteDance working with their domestic government are accurate, China also appears to be surveying data from their users devices.

I am curious to see how this situation plays out for other countries around the world, as other national governments have also expressed concern over the app. Overall, as a finance major I have been extremely intrigued by the current situation and how this multi-billion dollar deal will play out and what this means for the app moving forward.