Category Archives: Media & Entertainment

2019 sports industry game-changers

Pete Giorgio

Pete Giorgio, principle with Deloitte Consulting LLP, leads Deloitte’s US Sports practice

Sports trends expected to disrupt and dominate

Like most other industries, sports are being disrupted by technology advancements and cultural changes. How can sports executives capitalize on these industry changes in 2019? Our annual report explores eight trends that could redefine the sports industry in the year ahead.

 

Our starting lineup for 2019

2018 was an exciting year for sports. France beat out Croatia in a goal-filled match to win the World Cup. Simone Biles took home six medals at the world championship. The Red Sox won their fourth World Series title in 15 years. And the Capitals took home the Stanley Cup for the first time in team history.

Off the field, we’ve seen athletes grow as spokespeople for causes, front offices overhauled to bring in even more analytical rigor, and streaming media options grow in prominence. What trends will we be scouting this year? Our 2019 sports industry outlook covers eight trends to watch:

 

sports and digital icons

Athletes as content creators

Gone are the days of sports fans needing reporters to get news about their favorite players. Over the past few years, athletes are increasingly becoming content creators in their own right—be it through Instagram, Twitter, or long-form stories on websites like The Players’ Tribune.

While the athlete’s role as an individual content creator serves as a small complement to traditional media, this trend—buoyed by stars who were raised in the digital age—could become even more impactful and important in the coming years. This platform will enable further expansion and value of personal brands while also opening the door for the next generation of athletes to build their brands before they become household names.

————–

“The fewer barriers there are between athletes and fans, the more commercial opportunities that will materialize. The value in having fans relate to their favorite players is immeasurable.”

Brian Finkel, Deloitte Sports Research, Deloitte & Touche LLP

————–

 

virtual reality headset

Augmented and virtual reality

As technology advances, the challenge of keeping fans constantly engaged has become more and more difficult. Any lull in the game leads to fans diverting their attention to their phones and consuming content from other venues.

However, the growing integration of augmented and virtual reality is transforming the customer experience by giving fans the opportunity to get “closer” to athletes while having a single platform to access a wealth of data. While there are still some kinks that need to be worked out, this is a time where prioritization of customer experience is at an all-time high.

————–

“VR brings the best of the stadium into the home, while AR brings the best of home into the stadium.”

Allan Cook, digital reality leader, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP

————–

 

football plays on a chalkboard

The offensive revolution

Few ideas are as widely accepted among sports fans and players as the old adage that offense sells tickets, but defense wins games. As we watch shootout after shootout across professional sports, during the regular season and the playoffs, analysts are beginning to wonder whether times have officially changed.

While viewership numbers are up, purists question whether such a focus on offense has impacted the integrity of the games they love. This presents teams with a tough decision to make: Do they keep investing in offense and hope that’s enough? Or do they consider strategic defensive investments that will enable them to play a different game to compete in both the arena and in the market?

————–

“While increasing offense intends to sell more tickets, leagues will have to balance offense with maintaining the value of defensive skill and the historical backdrop of their sport.”

Lee Teller, specialist leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP

————–

 

sports betting app

Sports betting trends

What happens in Vegas no longer needs to stay in Vegas. With states now free to choose whether to legalize sports betting or not, many key stakeholders see opportunities to monetize, while others raise concerns about the impact legalized gambling could have on the integrity of the game, and federal and state governments consider their roles and legislative next steps.

Not only will betting impact the relationship between leagues, gambling institutions, data providers, and the government, it’s already changing the way fans can interact with games. The NBA recently announced an offering that allows fans to stream the fourth quarter of a game for $1.99. While convenient for the busy fan who is only able to watch part of a game, this is particularly notable for gamblers staking bets on real-time game lines who want to watch critical moments in the games they bet on.

————–

“September 2018 marked the first month of online sports betting dominance in New Jersey. With results from recent months, this trend has and will continue to be the dominant theme for the foreseeable future.”

Jamie Poster, manager, Deloitte & Touche LLP

————–

 

bubble map of sports icons

Tackling mental health

The past few years have seen an increasing number of high-profile athletes, storied franchises, and top programs publicly address a topic that affects both MVPs and weekend warriors: mental health. Many stars have offered a glimpse behind the curtain of endorsements and champion podiums into lives affected by symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.

With one in four people worldwide affected by mental or neurological disorders during their lives, the notion that handsomely paid and highly visible athletes are willing to shed light on a topic historically burdened with a negative stigma is both a positive movement and refreshingly relatable. With each athlete that comes forward, it becomes increasingly apparent that the sports world’s investment in mental wellness is only just the beginning.

————–

“Mental health is more than a hot-button societal issue, it has the opportunity to become a key long-term competitive advantage for the teams and countries that effectively engage, support, and work with their athletes.”

Ramya Murali, senior manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP

————–

 

soccer players and goalie

European soccer reaches America

Every two years, soccer’s popularity in America spikes as fervor surrounding the World Cup spreads throughout the nation. However, recent polling points not just to cyclical interest but long-term, sustained growth. Soccer is now the second-most-played youth sport in America and more Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 name soccer as their favorite sport over baseball.

European nations have taken note of this rise and are seeking to capitalize. The English Premier League inked a deal with NBC Sports in 2015 reportedly worth a billion dollars to stream its games to American households. And investments extend to human capital as well: European clubs are increasingly looking to young Americans to fill their rosters.

————–

“The US market provides a massive marketing, financing, and talent opportunity for European soccer—from traditional powerhouses to lower division teams looking to regain relevancy.”

Sam Ebb, senior consultant, Deloitte Consulting LLP

————–

 

phone and video game controller icon

eSports

With the vast audiences drawn to eSports and the increasing direct ties to professional leagues, we’ve seen players, executives, and owners jumping into the arena as team owners and avid gamers, as well as a way to continue to connect with teammates and fans off the court. As leagues look to continue building and expanding their fan bases, their eSports presence will be a major part of those interactions.

Over the coming year, we expect teams and leagues will continue to embrace eSports as a part of the existing major sports leagues, including efforts to integrate eSports opportunities into the existing sports experience, from eSports lounges in Topgolf facilities to an eSports arena in the Real Madrid’s new stadium.

————–

“The eSports landscape continues to stabilize around the maturation of teams and leagues and increasing sponsor engagement.”

Kat Harwood, senior manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP

————–

 

bar graph and pie chart

Personalizing fan engagement

While organizations have always collected data from season ticket holders, fan loyalty programs, and other fan engagement sources, many teams house this data in disparate databases and siloed customer-relationship management systems. These organizations, though, are starting to think about the fan holistically, requiring a centralization of these touchpoints into a single source of truth that can drive deeper, more personalized fan engagement—inside and outside of the stadium.

As sports teams and leagues build on and incorporate the successes of the e-commerce revolution, they’ll be able to connect all dots of a single fan’s journey, helping to sell additional tickets while also driving personalized connections and experiences that can increase the lifetime value of fans. Over the next year, we believe organizations will adapt their marketing functions to leverage fan data and become even more nimble and automated.

————–

“A key question for teams remains who is in each seat, but more importantly, focus is shifting to who engages with the brand inside and outside the venue?”

Chad Deweese, manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP

————–

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Download the full report to learn more

 

Take a look back at previous years’ reports:

2018 sports industry trends

2017 sports industry trends

2016 sports industry trends​

 

Let’s talk sports industry trends

We believe these topics are going to impact the business of sports, both on and off the field, over the next 12 months. But invariably new stories, trends, and themes will emerge that further disrupt the industry, derail the game plan for executives, and delight us as sports fans. Please tweet #DeloitteSports to share the sports trends or opportunities that are on your mind in 2019.

football field

Get in touch

Pete Giorgio

Pete Giorgio
US Leader | Sports

pgiorgio@deloitte.com

Pete, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, leads Deloitte’s US Sports practice, serving multiple sports clients including the United States Golf Association, NBA, United States Tennis Association… more

Best web browser: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera go head-to-head (Updated)


By Ian Paul, Independent Contributor, PCWorld | February 11, 2019 05:00 AM PT
 

We take a look at the performance and features of the big four internet browsers to see which one will serve you best.

The web browser is by far the most important piece of software on your PC—at least for most users. Unless you’re at a workstation crunching numbers or editing the next Star Wars you probably spend the majority of your computer time staring at a web app or a website.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you’ve always got the best tool for the job. In 2019 that does not include Internet Explorer. If you still want the built-in option for Windows, that would be Edge, though not for much longer as Microsoft plans to replace Edge (or at least its underlying technology) with a Chromium-based browser. Whatever happens with Edge there are so many other options out there including Google’s Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.

Let’s take a look at the four major browsers (including Edge) to see how they stack up in early 2019. You might be surprised to find that our favorite overall this year is Opera. Read on to find out why.

(If none of these internet browsers strike your fancy, head over to PCWorld’s roundup of 10 intriguing alternative browsers.)

Browsers in brief

Chrome

chromelogo
Google

A perennial favorite, Google Chrome tops the metrics charts of both StatCounter and NetMarketShare by a huge margin. Google’s browser has built a dedicated fan base thanks to its massive extensions library, and the fact that it just gets out of your way to put the focus on web content, not the browser’s trimmings.

Chrome isn’t quite as simplistic as it once was, but it’s still very easy to use. There isn’t much to Chrome except a huge URL bar—known as the OmniBar—plus a space for extensions, a bookmarking icon, tabs, and that’s it.

Yet Google still finds a way to hide all kinds of features inside the browser, including deep integration with Google’s services. This allows you to sync your bookmarks, passwords, open tabs, and more across devices. Chrome also has multi-account support if you need it on a family machine, a built-in PDF viewer, built-in Google Translate functionality, a task manager, and the always handy Paste and go context menu item.

If there’s one complaint people have about Chrome it’s that the browser eats up available memory. Our browser testing in 2015 showed that Chrome was definitely a memory beast, but a few years later it fared pretty well in our tests.

Firefox

mozilla firefox logo
Mozilla

For users who love extensibility but want greater privacy than a Google-made browser can provide, the open-source Mozilla Firefox is a great choice. Firefox paved the way for other browsers to become extensible, and Firefox’s relatively new extensions architecture will hopefully help its catalog match Chrome’s Web Store one day. Firefox also has a sync feature to see your open and recent tabs, browsing history, and bookmarks across all your devices.

Firefox 64 continues the strong efforts to update Mozilla’s browser that we saw with Firefox 57, which brought a new and updated design with refreshed icons, and a new library section that houses your history, pocket reading list, downloads, and synced tabs. Firefox 64 adds to that with a new task manager, and the ability to use Windows 10’s native sharing tool—personally, I think the old copy-and-paste method is still superior.

Where Firefox has really stood out in recent years is with the browser’s incognito mode. All browsers have a private mode that lets you browse without any of your activity being logged in your saved history. But most of the time these private modes still allow websites to track your activity for that specific session. Firefox does away with this by including ad and tracker blockers when using incognito mode.

Opera

operabrowser
Opera

Before Chrome, Opera was a popular choice among power users—a position former Opera CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner is trying to take back with Vivaldi. Opera today is really one of the more under-rated browsers around. It’s based on the same core technologies as Chrome (the Blink rendering engine and the JavaScript V8 engine), which means it can run many Chrome extensions—there’s even an extension for installing extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

Opera’s also got a few unusual features like Turbo, which saves on load times and bandwidth by compressing webpages on Opera’s servers. It’s also got a nice security feature called domain highlighting that hides most of the URL so that users can see easily and clearly if they’re on Google.com or google.com.scam.com—with scam.com being the actual website.

More recently, Opera introduced its own take on the social sidebar with one-click access to services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram. Like Chrome and Firefox, Opera also has its own cross-device syncing feature.

Microsoft Edge

microsotedge
Microsoft

Microsoft Edge has always been a work in progress and is about to be abandoned in its current form. Microsoft announced in December that Edge would become a Chromium-based browser. Once the switch happens, Edge will have similar underpinnings to Chrome and Opera. It’s not clear exactly when this transition will occur, but it’s expected before the end of 2019 or perhaps early 2020.

You’ll see below that performance for the current version of Edge is pretty good in some respects, but speed is just one important factor for a browser in 2019. The Edge extensions library is small and will likely stagnate now that its underlying technology is going away. Edge’s sync functionality is still restricted to favorites and the reading list, and the browser doesn’t get updates nearly fast enough. All of these issues should improve once Edge becomes a Chromium-based browser.

Despite its current shortcomings, Edge has several helpful features that will appeal to some users. Edge is deeply integrated with Windows 10’s inking capabilities, as well as with OneNote, making it easy to clip a webpage, annotate it, and save it to a notebook. Cortana is also a big part of Edge. You can use Microsoft’s digital assistant to quickly search for information, compare prices, or get a quick calculation.

Like Chrome, Edge has a casting feature. It also has a nifty set-aside tabs feature to stash a collection of websites. Other plusses included the ability to read and annotate ebooks (great for tablets) and PDFs, easily pin websites to the taskbar, edit URLs in your favorites list, browse in full screen, see and manage website permissions, and “read aloud” web content. Perhaps the best recent feature, however, is the “Continue on PC” option that lets you push webpages to your PC from your phone with the appropriate apps installed.

In the April 2018 Update, Edge got some small but significant feature boosts including the ability to mute tabs and automatic form fill, an updated flyout menu, and clutter-free printing that carves out all the web ads and other detritus you really don’t need on the printed page. Edge also boosted the ebook reading experience with support for narration in EPUB files and improved note taking.

The more recent October 2018 Update brought a minor improvement with the addition of blocking autoplaying videos on websites. For more on the current state of Edge check out our Windows 10 April 2018 Update Review and our look at the October 2018 Update.

Read on for our benchmark results and our pick for best browser.

Benchmarks

With the overview of our four contestants out of the way, let’s get down to business. To see which browser is worthy of your bandwidth in 2019 we used a variety of testing

tools. For judging JavaScript we used JetStream and the now-unsupported Octane 2.0 and SunSpider 1.0.2 benchmarking tools. Then we turned to WebXPRT 2015 and Speedometer to test the browsers under simulated web app workloads.

Finally, we took a look at CPU and RAM usage by loading a set of 20 websites in a single window in quick succession. Once all tabs began loading, we waited 45 seconds, and then checked the CPU and RAM usage. The idea was to see the amount of system resources the browser would use during a heavy workload.

For this test we ignored the Flash settings and left each browser in its default state. In recent years, most browser makers have de-emphasized Flash, enabling it as “click-to-play” and blocking nonessential website elements that use Flash. Since Flash is on its way out (and most users are unlikely to mess with Flash settings in the first place) we decided to leave everything as is. During the tests there are no extensions running, account sign-ups, or deliberate tinkering with settings: Just raw browser action.

Our test rig was an Acer Aspire E 15-575-33BM laptop loaded with Windows 10 Home. The October 2018 update hadn’t rolled out to this machine yet so it’s still rocking the April 2018 Update. The laptop also has a 1TB hard drive, 4GB RAM, and an Intel Core i3-7100U. Each browser was tested over an ethernet connection.

The performance picture

Looking at both JetStream and SunSpider, Edge 17 won top marks again just like in May 2018, and again by a wide margin. SunSpider has been deprecated for some time and is no longer supported, but the result was expected based on previous tests.

sunspider

Katherine Stevenson / IDG

Firefox’s JetStream score (higher is better) keeps getting worse, dropping from 125.43 in November 2017 to 120.31 in May 2018 to 112.39 in January 2019. Its SunSpider score stayed within the margin of error at 331 in January compared to 330.4 last May. Lower is better for SunSpider, and Firefox’s recent scores are much worse compared to the 290 it scored in November 2017.

jetstream
Katherine Stevenson / IDG

For Octane 2.0, which is also no longer supported, Firefox won the top spot this go-round, followed closely by Chrome and and then Opera, with Edge coming in at the bottom. That’s quite a difference from May 2018 when Opera was in the top spot with Firefox taking third place.

octane

Katherine Stevenson / IDG

Moving on to the more modern Speedometer test, which quickly iterates through a bunch of HTML 5-based to-do lists, Chrome came out on top, with Google’s Blink-based cousin Opera a close second, the same as we saw in May 2018; however, the numbers were noticeably worse in this test for all browsers. Last time Chrome and Opera scored 110 and 106.7, respectively, while this time around the scores were 51.5 and 50.2. Firefox took third place at 42.8 and Edge was in the bottom at 30.2.

speedometer

Katherine Stevenson / IDG

The numbers were much closer for WebXPRT 2015, and once again things stayed about the same as May 2018. WebXPRT 2015 uses a wide number of web apps, from photo collections to online note-taking to data sets. This test is kind of like a PCMark for browsers, and to my mind, one of the most significant tests. Firefox came out on top here, with Chrome and Opera quite close to each other, followed by a trailing Edge. Again, higher is better.

webxprt

Katherine Stevenson / IDG

Finally, we come to the memory and CPU tests. Slamming an average PC with 20 tabs of mostly media-rich sites all at once is going to chew up a good chunk of CPU and memory. Most of these browsers did not disappoint in that respect. That said, most of the browsers scored better than just a few months ago in terms of CPU usage, and memory use was about the same. The exception to memory would be Chrome, which had an unusually low memory score in May 2018 but returned to its memory-munching antics in January.

Opera was the best performer in terms of CPU usage by quite a bit, with Chrome coming in second, followed by Edge, while Firefox was the biggest hog of them all this time around. That’s not to say that Firefox got worse. In fact, its CPU percentage isn’t that far off from the 86 percent it had in June 2018. All the other browsers, however, made noticeable improvements over their previous scores.

cpu

Katherine Stevenson / IDG

Second place went to Chrome, followed by Edge, and Firefox a little further out in the CPU stratosphere.

The results were a little different for memory. This time around Edge was kicking butt with the lowest score yet for Microsoft’s browser of death. Don’t get too excited, however, as Edge’s scores are always a little tricky to get. We had similar problems to last time, where the PC often froze from overloaded system resources once the tabs were loading. We managed to get the task manager front and center quick enough to jot down the scores, but the screenshot we took didn’t go off for a noticeably long time. The bottom line here is that power users with multiple tabs open in Edge are still going to feel some serious pain trying to get work done. The next lowest memory hog was Opera, followed closely by Chrome, with Firefox at the back, but with results not that far off from Opera and Chrome.

memory2

Katherine Stevenson / IDG

And the winner is…

So who wins? Here’s the way we see it.

Opera wins our top spot for a good showing in the stress test and winning out in a few other key measures.

Chrome earns second place this time. It performed well in the live stress test, and was close to Opera in many respects. Many people love Chrome, and don’t get us wrong, it’s a great browser. But if you want to get away from Chrome without losing all of its advantages, Opera is a great choice since it can support nearly all the same conveniences Chrome can. Plus the social sidebar is a unique feature that you won’t find in the other browsers.

As in May 2018, we had to give Mozilla’s browser the bronze. Performance scores for Firefox 64 weren’t all that different from last time, while the others had noticeable improvements. The new Quantum versions of Firefox are dramatically better than their predecessors, but the goods just weren’t there to move up in the rankings. The fact that Firefox is a top performer in WebXPRT is a great sign, and if the stress test had gone better it might have taken the top spot or at least second place.

As for Microsoft’s browser…well, this time around Edge doesn’t even get an honorable mention. These days Edge is more of a “well, who cares?” It has always been the lesser browser and while we’ve seen some performance improvements, they’re really unimportant at this point. Edge is serviceable at best as a day-to-day browser, and it’s doubtful anything will change now that Edge as we know it is headed for the dustbin. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Microsoft Edge (assuming the name stays the same) should be a dramatically different beast before the end of the year.

To sum up: Give Opera a try and see if it performs as well for you as it did for us. If you love Chrome too much to give it up, then stick with it. Firefox, meanwhile, is still a solid option if you want something that isn’t built with Chrome DNA. That’s no small matter either, because once Edge gets its overhaul in the coming months, a non-Chromium browser will be a rare thing to find.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.

Deepfakes may try to ruin the world. But they can come for you too


Getty Images

Joan E. Solsman

By Joan E. Solsman, Senior Reporter for CNET | April 4, 2019 6:00 AM PDT

But — bright side! — videos with your face on somebody else’s body usually aren’t as tantalizing to bad guys as, say, creating political chaos.

Thinking about deepfakes tends to lead to philosophical head-scratchers. Here’s one: Should you worry about your face being grafted into hardcore pornography if deepfakes are bent on sabotaging global power?

Deepfakes are video forgeries that make people appear to be doing or saying things they never did. Similar to the way Photoshop made doctoring images a breeze, deepfake software has made this kind of manipulated video not only accessible but also harder and harder to detect as fake.

And chances are, unless you’ve scrupulously kept your image off the internet, a deepfake starring you is possible today.

“All of those images that you put of yourself online have exposed you,” said Hany Farid, a Dartmouth researcher who specializes in media forensics to root out things like deepfakes.  “And you gave it up freely. Nobody forced you to do it, it wasn’t even stolen from you — you gave it up.”

Facial recognition: Your face, your password
This is part of a CNET special report exploring the benefits and pitfalls of facial recognition.
CNET

Deepfakes represent a different, more malicious kind of facial recognition. Traditional facial recognition already plays a growing role in your life: It’s the technology that helps you find all the snapshots of a specific friend in Google Photos. But it also could scan your face at an airport or concert without your knowledge.

Unlike most facial recognition, which essentially turns the features of your face into a unique code for computers, deepfake software aims to mash up identity so well you don’t even question its truth. It poses a nightmare scenario not just of ruining your life, but also of manipulating the public’s perception of heads of states, powerful CEOs or political candidates.

That’s why media forensics experts like Farid, and even researchers for the Pentagon, are racing to find methods to detect deepfakes. But Matt Turek, the manager of Pentagon’s deepfakes program at DARPA, has said that its much easier to make a convincing deepfake today than it is to detect one.

Deepfake technology figures out how various points of a human face interact on camera to convincingly fabricate a moving, speaking human — think a photorealistic digital puppet. Artificial intelligence has fueled the rapid development of deepfakes, but it’s a technology that must also be fed a diet of facial images to produce a video.

Unfortunately, the rise of deepfakes has arrived after more than a decade of online social sharing put almost everyone’s face on the internet. But staying out of the public eye doesn’t inoculate anyone from deepfakes, because in today’s world, almost everyone is exposed.

Face swap

Here’s another fun deepfake headscratcher: How bad does something have to be for Reddit and Pornhub both to ban it?

Deepfakes come in different shapes, sizes and degrees of stomach-sinking monstrosity. There are three main types, but the simplest and most widely known is a face swap.

Face-swapping deepfakes can be harmless fun. One meme plasters actor Nicolas Cage‘s face into a potpourri of movies and shows he’s never starred in, with him as Indiana Jones or every actor on Friends. Tweets sticking Steve Buscemi’s mug on Jennifer Lawrence go viral for their weirdness.

But they can be insidious too, like the face of an unwitting victim grafted onto graphic pornography. This weaponized form of face swap has violated famous women, like Scarlett Johansson and Gal Gadot. But it’s also made victims of others who aren’t celebrities. This involuntary pornography is what’s prohibited by both Reddit and Pornhub.

The main asset that somebody needs to create a deepfake of you is a collection of a few hundred images of your face. Because deepfake software uses machine learning, it needs data sets of your face and another face in a destination video in order to swap them convincingly. That’s one reason celebrities and public figures are such easy targets: The internet is packed with source photos and videos to build these image stockpiles.

Your best protection against becoming the star of a deepfake depends on the lengths to which you’re willing to go to keep your image out of anyone else’s hands — including keeping it off the internet. (So, yeah, good luck with that.)

Scarlett Johansson
Actress Scarlett Johansson has characterized her fight against malicious deepfakes as a “lost cause,” telling the Washington Post: “Nothing can stop someone from cutting and pasting my image or anyone else’s onto a different body and making it look as eerily realistic as desired.”
Jay Maidment/Marvel

 

A few hundred images of you may sound like a lot to gather, but these don’t need to be individual still shots or selfies. Multiple frames pulled from one or more videos can fill in the gaps. Everytime an iPhone shot a video of you, it was capturing at least 30 frames per second.

And quality trumps quantity in a deepfake dataset. The ideal is a wide selection of facial images without blurring or obstructions, from a variety of angles and with a range of facial expressions. The quantity needed can decrease if the angles and facial expressions are well coordinated with the desired destination video.

These quirks of the data sets can yield bizarre advice about how to reduce your exposure. Wearing heavy makeup is good protection, especially if you change it up a lot.

Obstructions in front of a face, even brief ones, are particularly tricky for deepfake technology to work around. But the defenses that exploit that weakness aren’t necessarily helpful. Farid once joked about a potential defensive strategy with a politician. “When you’re talking with everyone around, every once and a while just wave your hand in front of your face to protect yourself,” he recounted telling him. The politician indicated that wasn’t a helpful idea.

Grim horizons

Deepfake programs for face-swapping are readily available free online, making the technology relatively accessible for anyone with motivation, some simple technological know-how and a powerful computer.

Other types of deepfake are more sophisticated. Thankfully, that means you’re less exposed to being a victim. Unfortunately, these are the ones that harbor more dangerous possibilities.

Comedian and filmmaker Jordan Peele publicized one of these kinds of deepfakes, called an impersonation or “puppet master” fake, by posing as President Barack Obama in a deepfake video a year ago. Peele impersonates Obama’s voice, but the deepfake video synthesized a new Obama mouth and jaw to be consistent with the audio track.

However, the creation of that video actually required a reassuring degree of practiced skill. Peele’s script was designed so his speech would match the ebbs and flow of Obama’s original head movements and gestures. And the success of the vocals was rooted in Peele’s well-honed Obama impersonation.

But a higher level of sophistication, termed deep video portraits, are like deepfakes on steroids. While most manipulation in deepfake videos is limited to facial expressions, an international team of researchers transferred three-dimensional head position and rotation, eye gaze and eye blinking from one source actor to another target actor.

Click

The result is a bit like a motion-capture sequence, without actually needing to capture motions when the videos were shot. With two ordinary videos, the researchers’ program synchronized the movements, blinks and eye direction onto somebody else’s face.

But the ultimate threat of deepfakes isn’t how sophisticated they can get. It’s how willingly the public will accept what’s fake for the truth — or believe somebody’s false denial because who even knows what’s true anymore?

“The public has to be aware that this stuff exists … but understand where we are with technology, what can and cannot be faked —  and just slow the hell down,” Farid said. “People get outraged in a nanosecond and start going crazy. Everybody’s got to just slow the f**k down.”

Originally published April 3.
Update, April 4: Adds background about DARPA.

Virtual Reality and Subliminal Marketing

March 20, 2019  – By Daniel Burrus, Futurist Speaker, Business Strategist, Author and Advisor

Virtual reality (VR) has become a reality, as nearly every tech company has created a product that features it, and it is now seen by many as mainstream. Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive are just a few examples of household names that have launched us into the future of the immersive experience.

There is little doubt that VR has the potential to revolutionize the entire entertainment, tourism and even learning industries if audiences adopt the concept of strapping a device to their heads. At the same time, there will be those who feel instantly compelled to compare the technology to such fads as the first 3D television.

However, if the masses embrace VR as predicted, should we be concerned that this completely immersive experience could lead us once again down the dark road of sinister subliminal advertising?

Applied to VR equipment and other, similar technology, subliminal advertising has the increasing capability of wielding a much deeper impact on the unknowing user. Given the vast, immersive characteristics of the VR environment. Consider one concept we’ve seen, where music apps and a smartwatch claim to play subliminal messages at a frequency overlaying music that cannot be detected by the ear, but only by the subconscious brain. This seemingly harmless idea could be incredibly valuable to savvy advertising agencies, as well as to candidates running for office.

Removing the everyday distractions of modern life and locking consumers away in an entirely immersive experience is every marketer’s dream — so before “plugging in,” we should all consider the potential implications of the use of this unregulated technology  to manipulate us.

When we take a closer look at the advertising that surrounds us, it’s obvious that subliminal messages are real and powerful, as seen in one 2015 example created by a Brazilian advertising agency. The advertisers placed a billboard of people yawning at a busy metro station in Sao Paulo. This “contagious billboard” was fitted with a motion sensor that automatically detected when commuters were passing by and then displayed a video of somebody yawning.

The campaign aimed to convince passers-by that they were tired by using infectious yawning.  The billboard followed the yawning video with this message: “Did you yawn, too? Time for coffee!” If it is possible to convince busy commuters to buy coffee by broadcasting a subliminal message, can you imagine the power potentially wielded within an immersive virtual reality experience that is completely free from distraction?

The gathering of data from our online purchases already allows subtle messaging for influential purposes, so the adverts that pop up and the messages we receive are certainly no accident or coincidence. Everywhere we turn, we are unwittingly subjected to product placements in video games and movies, but we congratulate ourselves on being able to see the messages and resist their pull. However, would we be as resistant to such messages if they appeared while we were completely immersed in virtual reality?

There is an enormous responsibility for any advertising agency considering bringing any form of advertising or marketing to virtual reality. If the consumer experience is in any way tainted by the out-of-date and detested marketing messages from our past, consumers will fail even to adopt the medium.

The main problem is that the current method of advertising is broken, and billions of dollars are wasted on ads that are either not seen or deemed irrelevant to a consumer’s lifestyle. This change in customer behavior is ushering in a new era of marketing called “targeted display advertising” (TDA) that uses consumers’ own data to deliver personalized ads that resonate with them.

Organizations finally have a handle on big data, and they will be able to leverage our mobile devices to learn what we’re interested in even before we clearly know ourselves, based solely on our browsing histories.

As we drift between devices and screens, we have surrounded ourselves with wave of white noise that has become a frustrating obstacle for any advertiser striving to stand out amongst  all the distractions. However, a headset that removes any form of outside interruption by pumping sound into a consumer’s ears and preventing his or her eyes from wandering could make subliminal messaging hard to avoid.

Before becoming paranoid about what’s to come, it is important to understand how this technology can also be used for the greater good, too.

Virtual reality can make a positive difference in our lives by opening up fantastic opportunities for learning, rehabilitation, teaching and tourism. But I would like to see more conversations and debates about how subliminal marketing messages should be used in that environment, to help solve any problems before they occur.

What are your thoughts on the immersive experience virtual reality delivers to audiences, and about the benefits and downsides of its being leveraged to deliver subliminal messaging?

To better determine and understand the Hard Trend opportunities the immersive experience virtual reality delivers to audiences, get my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Pick up your copy today at www.TheAOBook.com

5G will impact these 10 industries the most (Video)

Video

By Alison DeNisco Rayome, Senior Editor for TechRepublic on March 20, 2019, 6:36 AM PST

Major 5G network deployments are expected by 2020, and the technology will create opportunities across many industries, according to CB Insights.

Highly-anticipated major 5G networks are expected to be deployed by 2020, and will transform a number of industries due to the technology’s ability to provide wider network coverage, more stable internet connections, and faster data transfer speeds, according to a recent report from CB Insights.

5G will also enable the rise in the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, along with the amount of data they generate, the report noted.

While 5G sets the stage for new opportunities across many fields, it also will bring disruption to those industries, the report said.

CB Insights identified the 20 industries that 5G will impact the most. Here are the top 10:

1. Manufacturing

5G is poised to help manufacturing production operations become more flexible and efficient, while also improving safety and lowering maintenance costs.

2. Energy and utilities

Critical infrastructure like energy and utilities will benefit from 5G technologies, which could create more innovative solutions in energy production, transmission, distribution, and usage, as well as the next wave of smart grid features and efficiency.

3. Agriculture

Farmers worldwide are using IoT technology to optimize agricultural processes including water management, fertigation, livestock safety, and crop monitoring, the report noted. 5G could enable real-time data collection, allowing farmers to monitor, track, and automate agricultural systems to increase profitability, efficiency, and safety.

4. Retail

More than 100 million Americans made a purchase on their smartphone in 2018, the report noted, and the move to mobile shopping is largely due to the rise of 4G/LTE. The faster speeds 5G will bring will enable new retail experiences like virtual reality (VR) dressing rooms.

5. Financial services

5G will accelerated the digitization of financial institutions, including from internal operations to customer service, the report said. Increased security and speed will allow users to increasingly make transactions instantly on their devices, and make remote tellers a possibility.

6. Media and entertainment

5G will bring about new opportunities in mobile media, mobile advertising, home broadband, and TV, as well as interactive technologies like VR and augmented reality (AR).

7. Healthcare

In the healthcare industry, 5G could increase efficiencies and revenue, helping health systems create faster, more efficient networks to keep up with the large amounts of data involved. The technology could also enable the use of remote monitoring devices to improve health outcomes.

8. Transportation

Transportation systems ranging from public buses to private logistic fleets will gain increased visibility and control thanks to 5G, the report said. 5G will allow improved vehicle-to-vehicle communications, enabling more self-driving car testing. These networks will also help cities gain access to more data around their transportation systems.

9. AR/VR

The future of AR and VR depends on reliable 5G networks, according to the report. These technologies require a less expensive, wider network with lower latency to continue developing and reaching widespread adoption, as they require massive amounts of data processing.

10. Insurance

5G will help insurance agents make more effective decisions, as they will have access to more accurate data, the report said.

You can see the full report here.

For more 5G coverage, check out this TechRepublic/ZDNet special feature: How 5G will transform business.

« Older Entries