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It’s news to us: tech stories that caught our eye in May

Posted by Ella Delancey on 4th June 2014

Google/YouTube prepping to buy Twitch – 18th May

Twitch, the world’s leading video platform and community for gamers, is on the cusp of being bought by YouTube for around $1bn.

More than 45 million gamers gather every month to broadcast, watch and chat via the Twitch platform. While YouTube relies largely on uploaded videos, Twitch is more akin to live television. If the deal goes through, YouTube would become the place for both on-demand and live video – certainly the model for the future of internet video entertainment.

In the past, Twitch has had issues with reliable streaming – a problem YouTube could be in a position to solve.

Apart from the fact that the takeover may incur the need for a Google Account to access Twitch, many hardcore gamers are unhappy, wondering if the platform will stay the same. The main worries are about YouTube mishandling Twitch or potentially alienating users through unpopular changes to the existing service (akin to when Google acquired YouTube and began forcing comments through Google+).

One user suggests that Twitch will ‘die as we know it’, if YouTube take over.  Personally however, I think it’s just a simple case of the fact that YouTube couldn’t face not being the best at something, so they bought it. In your face, small-time video platform.

Wearing medicine inside your body? – 21st May

This month saw the introduction of the newest medical wonder: ‘electroceuticals’. This is the idea of probing electric bits deep into your heart, brain, or other vital organs, and treating diseases via radio waves.

Powered wirelessly, these waves are as strong as a mobile phone signal, and have been proven to be well below the safety levels for a human. This technology would curb the need for large, bulky batteries usually needed for treatment.

These devices, called a ‘mid-field wireless transfer’ could have the potential to ‘instantaneously’ cure diseases such as depression, heart failure and Parkinson’s, which usually require lengthy drug treatments.

So far, the technology has succeeded in powering a tiny pacemaker using just these waves. Through this technique, scientists were able to charge the device via a credit card-sized remote placed externally on (weirdly) a pig’s body.

Research leader Ana Poon and the rest of The Poon Lab are currently testing its capability for human use. Terrifying.

The internet scrambles our kids’ brains – 20th May

Since the birth of the internet, there has always been a fear that the naughty radio waves will sneak out of the computer and into our heads, giving us all brain damage. However, ‘new’ science has suggested that Wi-Fi and mobile signals could be affecting children’s brains. How better to test this theory than by grabbing a bunch of 11-14 year olds and pumping waves into their heads over a three-year study?

The kids will be asked to install an app on their phones, which will capture the duration of calls, texts and internet use. Their brain function will then be measured in Year 7, and again in Year 9.

Seventy per cent of 11-12 year olds in the UK now own a mobile phone, rising to 90 per cent at age 14. It is feared that their developing nervous system may put them at greater risk of damage from the absorption of energy.

Although research to date suggests no association between exposure to radio frequency in phones and brain cancer in the short term: “Evidence available regarding long-term heavy use and children’s use is limited and less clear,” says Paul Elliott, director of Medical Research Council Centre for Environment and Health at Imperial College. (what a mouthful!)

I’m sure the parents of these kids are going to be really pleased that they let them take part in this study if these fears turn out to be true.

Ella Delancey

A trained journalist, with a degree in English Language and Journalism from Kingston University, Ella began her career writing for local newspapers such as The River, followed by several internships within the media industry, including stints in fashion PR and social media agencies. These experiences fuelled her transition from journalism to PR, allowing Ella to combine her writing and creative skills with a deeply instilled ‘news sense’ to ensure she maximises coverage for her clients at every opportunity.