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  • Caspar James - Tech Journalist

Zoom has come a long way in a very short space of time

With the introduction of the stay-at-home and work-from-home ethic during early 2020, the face-to-face world, whether business or schooling, has had to quickly adapt to the reality of remote working and remote study. No other platform has been catapulted into action, faster by necessity, than Zoom.


Founded in 2011 and launched in 2013, Zoom had always been highly regarded for its ease of use, as videoconferencing software, and by December 2019, it had a respectable 10m daily participants logging on to chat face-to-face. At the start of the UK lockdown in March 2020, that number had grown globally to 200m daily participants and by April, 300m were logging on daily to the platform, with office workers jumping onto Zoom calls to stay in touch with colleagues and schools continuing with their lessons online.


It also became the platform of choice for the UK government, with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's first online cabinet meeting being held via Zoom. But with it, has come some headaches along the way. Initially a few concerns over security and privacy issues and even Boris Johnson's first Zoom call to his cabinet, had the meeting ID clearly displayed on a post of the meeting's snapshot.


Setting up a Zoom call requires three things; an account, a webcam and access to the internet. Also, the added consideration of the background you intend to make the Zoom call from. Stacked bookshelves and appropriately selected ornaments can easily give the appearance of a knowledgable participant, with a potted plant and modern art piece included for good measure; whether portraying a contemporary showhome environment or something much more minimalist (an empty room). And if your own broadcast studio's background isn't suitable, there is always a library of Zoom's own backgrounds to choose from. Once the call is set up and the appropriate background chosen if you need one, it's down to logging on and seeing all the faces of the others sitting in on the same call. Please note, backgrounds are always noticed.


But with anything new and unfamiliar, there will always be a few teething problems when making a Zoom call. On 9th February, during a court hearing Zoom call in Presidio, Texas, between Judge Roy Ferguson of Texas's 394th judicial district and lawyers, H. Gibbs Bauer, Rod Ponton and Jerry L. Phillips, Mr Ponton can clearly be seen represented by a Zoom filter, a cute kitten. The filter very cleverly replicating all head and eye movements of the lawyer, who reminds the judge "I'm not a cat" while his assistant is trying desperately to turn the kitten filter off, clearly to the bemusement of the other lawyers.


The 40 second case introduction video then going viral, with the judge posting a snippet from the proceedings saying "If a child used your computer before you join a virtual hearing, check the Zoom video options to be sure the filters are off."


Being virtual meeting software, there is practically no limit to the number of people who can sign into a single Zoom call, from 100 to 1,000, depending on whether you're using the free or paid version of the software. The free version being limited to 40 minutes. Clearly now, Zoom is the virtual meeting platform that will be part of the daily business ritual while the current global pandemic is ongoing and by the looks of things, the go-to platform for many to log onto, for a long period to come.




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