Future Inventions

Zoom videoconferencing application reached 200 million daily users

Zoom reached 200 million daily users during March 2020. It is a record increase for this videoconferencing application, which had only 10 million users in December 2019. However, the American company is stuck in numerous cases related to the lack of security of its product. To improve its image, it announces various measures such as the publication of a transparency report, webinars, and an improvement of its bounty bug program.

In a blog post published on April 1, 2020, Zoom’s founder, Eric S.Yuan, announced that the video conferencing application reached 200 million daily users in March 2020. By way of comparison, in December 2019, the maximum number of participants in “free or paid daily meetings” was around 10 million.

This explosion is due to containment, a measure necessary to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. We will see if this situation will continue in the long term, especially once the health crisis has passed. The consequence of this sustained use is the emergence of numerous problems related to the safety of the application. “We now have a much more users who are using our product in a myriad of unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges that we did not foresee when we designed the platform,” writes Eric S. Yuan.

A strategy to regain user confidence

Data leaks, lies about encryption, machine vulnerabilities… One problem after another for the start-up. The latest: disclosure of personal data caused by poor contact management. Faced with these concerns that undermine Zoom’s reputation, Eric S.Yuan announces a series of measures. “For the next 90 days, we are committed to devoting the necessary resources to identify, address, and resolve the issues proactively,” he says in his blog post.

It includes preparing a “transparency report” detailing information related to “data, folder or content queries,” a weekly webinar on Wednesday at 10:00 am to explain upcoming updates, conducting a comprehensive “comprehension review” with independent experts and representative users. Besides, Zoom is committed to improving its bounty bug program and mobilizing “all its technical resources” to strengthen its security.

On paper, Zoom seems to want to improve the privacy and security of its users. In practice, what means will it be implemented? It should be noted that incidents are not necessarily due to purely technical concerns. The American company openly lied about the security protocol used to encrypt audio and video streams. This seductive operation came a few days after the Attorney General of the State of New York sent a letter to the company asking it to explain its privacy policy.

Stadia: unable to provide 4K at 60 as promised, Google responds to criticism

Now available, the Cloud Gaming service is struggling to keep its promises. And among these, one, in particular, is the subject of intense criticism from subscribers and specialists: that of a catalog fully available in 4K 60fps.

Display resolution and framerate sometimes lower than consoles

Stadia may have bragged by announcing a theoretical power of 10.7 teraflops at the official presentation of its product, but in reality, this striking power is far from being properly used.

In any case, this is the observation of the specialists at Digital Foundry who, after weeks of testing the Google stamped product, affirm that out of the 22 titles currently in the catalog, few are running in 4K, and even less at 60 frames per second. Some games like Destiny 2 run in 1080p60 – which is a lower framerate than on PS4 Pro, for example.

Red Dead Redemption 2, a real product seller of Google technology, is also far below what the Xbox One X offers. Rockstar’s game never reaches 60 frames per second and seems to be capped at 1440p. A stinging setback, which directly contradicts what Stadia proudly announced on her Twitter account just a few months ago (a tweet deleted since).

Google blames the developers

Google then went to the front to clarify the situation with 9to5Google. According to Google, Stadia streams 4K at 60 frames per second, and this includes all aspects of our graphics pipeline from the game to the screen: GPU, encoder and Chromecast Ultra, everything comes out in 4K on 4K TVs, if the Internet connection is powerful enough.

Developers working on Stadia games work hard to provide the best streaming experience. As you can see on a variety of platforms, this includes a wide range of techniques to achieve the best overall quality. According to Google, it gives developers complete freedom in how to get this best quality, as much image as framerate. Google expects developers to continue to improve their games on Stadia.

Google states that while its infrastructure is theoretically capable of producing 4K at 60 fps on all games, it is only up to developers to appropriate this technology and rework the sauce in their way, whether it involves violent upscaling, or even capping at 30 frames per second.

It is also worth recalling that the games offered on Stadia are not PC versions, nor console versions of the games. These are versions developed for Google’s Cloud Gaming service. The recency of this one, and the probably frantic pace at which development teams had to adapt to this new platform, undoubtedly explain the wanderings of the launch.

The 100% Google driverless car takes to the road

For the past few days, a strange vehicle has been spotted in the streets of Mountain View, right in the heart of Silicon Valley. With its small size, rounded shapes and natural looks, it seems straight out of a cartoon. It also has another particularity: it is autonomous. It is the first prototype of a driverless car entirely designed by Google.

The company has already been conducting experiments in California and Nevada for five years. However, until now, it had only used commercial models, Toyota and then Lexus. These cars are equipped with a sophisticated radar and camera system. This makes it possible to map the environment and detect cars, pedestrians, red lights, white lines…

The new “Google car” prototype was developed in-house. About twenty units were produced by a small equipment manufacturer in Detroit, the American automobile fiefdom. Initially, these cars were not to include a steering wheel or pedals. Google, however, had to revise its plans to comply with California regulations, which require the presence of a driver who can regain control.


Unveiled in May 2014, the prototype – which officially has no name – has already accumulated the kilometers of tests on private tracks. The second phase of testing is now taking place on public roads near the search engine’s headquarters, at a maximum speed of 40 km/h. These tests should improve performance in the city, a sophisticated environment for driverless cars.

Nestled in Google X, the in-house laboratory that imagines the most futuristic concepts, the project is still far from successful. Its director, Chris Urmson, talks about a possible commercial launch within five years. Many challenges remain to be resolved, he explains. For example, “where should the car stop when its destination is inaccessible because of work? »

Since their first laps, Google cars have driven about 1.5 million kilometers independently. Without a single accident, the company explained last year. At the beginning of May, however, it had to admit that eleven skirmishes had taken place since the start of the tests. “The unmanned vehicle was never the cause of the accident,” Urmson says.


Google is not the only company interested in vehicles without drivers. On Tuesday, June 23, Ford formalized its ambitions in the field. “Many manufacturers are working on driverless cars,” says Thilo Koslowski of Gartner. However, development will take place in stages. The analyst estimates that it will be another ten years before a fully autonomous model becomes widely available.

In the meantime, an increasing number of vehicles will drive themselves under certain conditions. For example, when parking or on the highway, where the data to be analyzed is less complicated than in the city. Tesla, the American manufacturer of electric cars, even promises the arrival of an autopilot function this year. General Motors plans a semi-autonomous model for 2017.

“By 2035, unmanned cars will represent 9% of the world fleet. Moreover, almost 100% by 2050,” predicts Egil Juliussen of IHS Automotive. Google could become a major player in the sector. “The software aspect will be an essential element to ensure the reliability of the vehicles,” continues the analyst. High-tech companies have expertise in this area that car manufacturers do not have.