Google sign language AI turns hand gestures into speech

Google says it has made it possible for a smartphone to interpret and “read aloud” sign language.

The tech firm has not made an app of its own but has published algorithms which it hopes developers will use to make their own apps.

Until now, this type of software has only worked on PCs.

Campaigners from the hearing-impaired community have welcomed the move, but say the tech might struggle to fully grasp some conversations.

In an AI blog, Google research engineers Valentin Bazarevsky and Fan Zhang said the intention of the freely published technology was to serve as “the basis for sign language understanding”. It was created in partnership with image software company MediaPipe.

“We’re excited to see what people come up with. For our part, we will continue our research to make the technology more robust and to stabilise tracking, increasing the number of gestures we can reliably detect,” a spokeswoman for Google told the BBC.

Google acknowledges this is a first step. Campaigners say an app that produced audio from hand signals alone would miss any facial expressions or speed of signing and these can change the meaning of what is being discussed.

Also, any regionalisms which exist in a local area would not be included.

Jesal Vishnuram, Action on Hearing Loss’s technology manager, says the initiative is a good first step for hearing people, but that it needs to be paired with other capabilities.

“From a deaf person’s perspective, it’d be more beneficial for software to be developed which could provide automated translations of text or audio into British Sign Language (BSL) to help everyday conversations and reduce isolation in the hearing world,” he said.

Hidden fingers

Until now, when trying to track hands on video, finger-bending and flicks of the wrist have hidden other parts of the hand. This confused earlier versions of this kind of software.

Google imposes a graph on 21 points across the fingers, palm and back of the hand, making it easier to understand a hand signal if the hand and arm twist or two fingers touch.

Other large US software providers have developed technologies that have attempted to read aloud sign language on PCs.

Last year, Microsoft teamed up with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf to use desktop computers in classrooms that helped students with hearing disabilities via a presentation translator.

In a blog, students described having previously missed some of what their professors had said because they had to keep switching attention from human sign language interpreters to what was being written on the board.

But by having all the viewing information presented via a desktop, the problem was solved.

Elsewhere in the world, innovators have created their own home-grown tech.

One 25-year-old developer in Kenya has built a pair of haptic gloves that translate sign language to an Android application which reads the text aloud.

Roy Allela made the gloves for his hearing-impaired niece, and his innovation recently won an award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

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‘Fake’ Amazon ambassadors baited on Twitter

Amazon workers praising their working conditions on social media are being accused of lying by other users.

Twitter users are pointing to apparent inaccuracies and “robotic” or “scripted” language as evidence that employees are being “paid to lie”.

A number of parody accounts have been set up mocking the tweets by the staff, who are called Amazon ambassadors.

Amazon told BBC News their ambassadors are members of staff who post their personal experiences on social media.

In a statement to BBC News, the company said: “Fulfilment centre (FC) ambassadors are employees who work in our FCs and share facts based on their personal experience.

“It’s important that we do a good job educating people about the actual environment inside our fulfilment centres, and the FC ambassador programme is a big part of that, along with the FC tours we provide.”

The ambassadors praise working conditions in the retailer’s warehouses, and actively find and respond to tweets critical of the company’s practices.

One ambassador, known as @AmazonFCHannah on Twitter, posted on Thursday: “I suffer from depression too, and at one point I wanted to quit Amazon. But I realised it was my fault for the problems I was dealing with, and not Amazon’s.

“I’m allowed to talk to people, but sometimes I don’t want to. Now I have some great co-workers to pass the nights with.”

The same account also defended Amazon’s policy of not recognising trade unions in its US warehouses, saying its pay and conditions made them unnecessary.

Another account, @AmazonFCRafael, also responded: “It’s true that our managers don’t have the power to improve our wages, but they can help and look out for employees like me on doing the job that we do.

“The wages of the FC is $ 15-$ 17/hr, with good benefits and paid tuition for school.”

Earlier this month the same account holder said he was grateful to have been able to take a week of absence by using annual leave and sick days.

Sceptical Twitters users accused the accounts of posting scripted messages in the guise of real experiences.

“Every single tweet by one of those ‘Amazon FC Ambassadors’ has the exact same energy as someone answering the door with a gun to their head, and telling the cops that everything is fine,” wrote one critic.

When asked why she tweeted, @AmazonFCHannah replied: “I get to do this two days out of the week so I get a break from work. Last group of Ambassadors got a gift card, so I might get one of those too.”

One widely-circulated tweet accused the accounts of being fake, and shared a post from 2018 by @AmazonFCRafael about being excited that her grandchildren were coming to visit, but the account profile picture is of a young man.

In response @AmazonFCRafael claimed those tweets were by the previous ambassador and that the accounts are used in rotation.

What are Amazon fulfilment centres?

In 2018, Amazon changed the name of its warehouses to fulfilment centres and launched the ambassador programme, as well as inviting the public to visit its centres.

It said the centres educate the public about the retailer, but critics claimed the opportunities were a bid to improve the company’s public image.

Amazon is routinely criticised for poor working practices and in July thousands of workers staged protests about pay and conditions on Prime Day – a day of special offers for subscribers.

One worker at Shakopee in Minnesota told the BBC that he has to handle an item about every eight seconds during a 10-hour day.

In response, Amazon said it “provided great employment opportunities with excellent pay” and encouraged people to compare its operations in Shakopee with other employees in the area.

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Data regulator probes King’s Cross facial recognition tech

The facial-recognition system at King’s Cross is to be investigated by the UK’s data-protection watchdog.

Media exposure of live facial recognition at the site prompted the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to look into how it was being used.

The ICO will inspect the technology in place and how it is operated to ensure it does not break data protection laws.

The regulator said it was “deeply concerned” about the growing use of facial-recognition technology.

Fair and transparent

The Financial Times was the first to report a live face-scanning system was being used across the 67-acre (0.3-sq-km) site around King’s Cross station in London.

Developer Argent said it used the technology to “ensure public safety” and it was just one of “a number of detection and tracking methods” in place at the site.

But the use of cameras and databases to work out who is passing through and using the site has proved controversial.

So far, Argent has not said how long it has been using facial-recognition cameras, what is the legal basis for their use, or what systems it has in place to protect the data it collects.

In its statement, the ICO said: “Scanning people’s faces as they lawfully go about their daily lives, in order to identify them, is a potential threat to privacy that should concern us all.”

The regulator said it was keen to ensure that King’s Cross developer was using the technology in accordance with UK laws governing the use of data.

“Put simply, any organisations wanting to use facial recognition technology must comply with the law – and they must do so in a fair, transparent and accountable way,” said the ICO.

It must have documented how and why it believed its use of the technology was legal, proportionate and justified, it added.

Argent has not yet responded to a request for comment by BBC News.

The mayor of London is also quizzing developer Argent about its use of facial-recognition systems.

Sadiq Khan wrote to the company and said there was “serious and widespread concern” about the legality of facial recognition.

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King’s Cross developer defends use of facial recognition

The developer behind a 67-acre site in the King’s Cross area of central London has defended its use of facial recognition technology.

Under data protection laws, firms must provide clear evidence that there is a need to record and use people’s images.

A spokeswoman said the tool was used to “ensure public safety” and was one of “a number of detection and tracking methods”.

The local council said it was unaware that the system was in place.

It was first reported by the Financial Times.

In a statement, developer Argent said it used cameras “in the interest of public safety” and likened the area to other public spaces.

“These cameras use a number of detection and tracking methods, including facial recognition, but also have sophisticated systems in place to protect the privacy of the general public,” it said.

A spokeswoman declined to say what those systems were, how long the facial recognition had been in operation or what the legal basis was for its use, as is required under European data protection law.

Potential for inappropriate use

In addition to the National Rail, London Underground and Eurostar stations, King’s Cross is home to a number of restaurants, shops and cafes, as well as offices occupied by Google and Central Saint Martins college.

The college told the BBC it had “not been made specifically aware” that the tech was in use in the area and added that it does not use it inside its own buildings.

According to the King’s Cross website, planning permission for new additions to the site, granted in 2006, included:

  • 50 buildings
  • 1,900 homes
  • 20 streets
  • 10 public parks

The BBC has confirmed that London’s Canary Wharf is also seeking to trial facial recognition tools, as reported in the Financial Times.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it had general concerns about the potential for inappropriate use of the technology.

“Organisations wishing to automatically capture and use images of individuals going about their business in public spaces need to provide clear evidence to demonstrate it is strictly necessary and proportionate for the circumstances, and that there is a legal basis for that use,” it said in a statement.

“The ICO is currently looking at the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement in public spaces and by private sector organisations, including where they are partnering with police forces.

“We’ll consider taking action where we find non-compliance with the law.”

South Wales Police faced a legal challenge to its use of facial recognition in 2018.

Despite this it is currently undergoing a three-month trial of a new app.

Chancellor Sajid Javid gave his backing to the police in their trials of facial recognition cameras last month, while he was home secretary.

However, privacy groups have also voiced concerns about the implications of facial recognition on privacy rights.

“Facial recognition is nothing like CCTV – it’s not an accurate comparison,” said Stephanie Hare, an independent researcher and tech commentator.

“It allows us to be identified and tracked in real time, without our knowledge or our informed consent.

“We recognise the power of DNA and fingerprints as biometrics and their use is governed very strictly under UK law. We do not apply the same protections and restrictions to face, yet it is arguably even more powerful precisely because it can be taken without our knowledge.”

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Amazon Echo devices made by Chinese teens ‘working through night’ – reports

Amazon has pledged to investigate allegations that hundreds of teenagers are working illegal hours at a Chinese factory producing its Echo devices.

A new report by China Labor Watch claims more than 1,500 “interns” were manufacturing the smart assistants at a factory run by supplier Foxconn.

The teenagers, aged between 16 and 18, were reportedly pressured into work 60 hours a week and night shifts.

Foxconn has blamed local managers and vowed to improve monitoring of staff.

The company, which makes products for a number of technology giants, has allegedly fired two senior staff members at the site in Hengyang, Bloomberg reports.

It is the latest in a string of controversies surrounding working conditions at the manufacturer, which is headquartered in Taiwan.

In 2017, it emerged some students were working illegal overtime at another Foxconn facility making Apple iPhone Xs.

What does the report say?

The latest report into Foxconn, first detailed in the Guardian, alleges hundreds of school students have been drafted in from local vocational schools to help fulfil orders.

The report alleges the so-called interns are paid as little as $ 1.42 (£1.18) an hour, or about $ 248 (£205) a month, for their time. The teenagers were reportedly expected to work 10 hour shifts, including two hours overtime, six times a week.

China Labor Watch say many students sleep in shared dormitories and face pressure from teachers, who are also recruited, to work hours that violate labour regulation.

“If interns were unwilling to work overtime or night shifts, the factory would arrange for teachers to pressure workers,” the report says. “For interns who refuse to work overtime and night shifts, the factory requests teachers from their schools to fire them.”

Activists also make allegations of physical and verbal abuse by teachers at the site. The intern’s schools are compensated financially for their time, the report adds.

One student, a 17-year-old named as Xiao Fang, was quoted by China Labor Watch describing her role putting protective film over about 3,000 Echo Dot devices a day.

The report says she found working in the “very bright” and “hot” factory very tiring and she did not want to work overtime.

“The teacher went to speak to Xiao Fang and said that if she doesn’t work overtime, she can’t intern at Foxconn and this will affect her graduation and scholarship applications at the school etc,” the report says.

“With no choice, Xiao Fang could only endure this.”

What has the response been?

Amazon, owned by the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, said in a statement to the BBC it does not tolerate violations to its supplier code of conduct.

“We are urgently investigating these allegations and addressing this with Foxconn at the most senior level,” the statement said. “Additional teams of specialists arrived on-site this wee k to investigate, and we’ve initiated weekly audits of this issue.”

The BBC has approached Foxconn for comment. In a statement to the Guardian newspaper, the company said it had “doubled the oversight and monitoring” of its school programme.

“There have been instances in the past where lax oversight on the part of the local management team has allowed this to happen and, while the impacted interns were paid the additional wages associated with these shifts, this is not acceptable and we have taken immediate steps to ensure it will not be repeated,” they said.

Foxconn also reportedly pledged to review salaries and increase regular worker levels.

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Microsoft workers ‘listen’ to some translated Skype calls

Microsoft workers occasionally listen to real Skype conversations that have been processed by translation software, it has been revealed.

According to tech site Motherboard, some contractors for Microsoft review such conversations to check the quality of translations.

However, the fact that humans may listen in to calls is not explicitly stated in Skype’s terms and conditions.

Microsoft said it had users’ permission to collect and process their data.

Skype’s Translator service translates dialogue during live audio and video calls.

Motherboard said it obtained audio from translated Skype conversations in which users “spoke intimately to loved ones” and discussed personal matters, including weight loss and relationship problems.

The tech site also said it had evidence that human contractors could hear voice commands spoken to Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual voice-activated assistant.

“Microsoft gets customers’ permission before collecting and using their voice data,” a spokeswoman for the firm said in a statement.

“We also put in place several procedures designed to prioritise users’ privacy before sharing this data with our vendors, including de-identifying data, requiring non-disclosure agreements with vendors and their employees, and requiring that vendors meet the high privacy standards set out in European law.”

The company’s privacy statement says data may be shared “with vendors working on our behalf” – but it does not explicitly state that this may include human workers besides, for example, artificial intelligence systems.

Recordings under review

The practice of using human contractors to assess recordings of customers using tech products has faced increasing scrutiny lately.

Last week, Apple and Google decided to suspend their use of human contractors for reviewing voice recordings made by the firms’ virtual assistants and smart speakers, including Apple’s Siri.

A few days later, Luxembourg’s data protection watchdog said that it had opened discussions with Amazon about how the firm processed voice recordings made of people using its smart assistant Alexa.

Microsoft’s lead supervisory authority on data protection within the EU is Ireland’s Data Protection Commission.

The BBC has asked the commission for comment.

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8chan far-right forum set to be pushed offline

The far-right web forum 8chan, used to celebrate mass shootings and spread suspects’ so-called “manifestos”, is likely to be forced offline after losing its cybersecurity protection.

Cloudflare, a San Francisco-based firm that provides added security for websites to prevent cyber-attacks, has said it will stop protecting 8chan at midnight Pacific Time (08:00 BST) on Monday.

The 21-year-old suspect in this weekend’s shooting in El Paso, Texas, is understood to have used 8chan to spread his manifesto.

Previously, the site was also used by the suspect in March’s shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, as well as the suspect in April’s synagogue shooting in Poway, California.

Losing Cloudflare’s protection will mean 8chan is expected to become the target of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, whereby a website is bombarded with traffic that overwhelms its servers, rendering it inaccessible.

Cloudflare chief executive Matthew Prince had said, in the wake of Saturday’s shootings, that his firm would continue to support 8chan as its policy was to remain neutral over the type of content the service protected.

However on Sunday evening Mr Prince wrote in a blog post that “8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate” and would lose Cloudflare’s services.

“They have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” Mr Prince wrote.

“Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.”

Mr Prince warned that while 8chan would be disrupted by Cloudflare’s decision, it would likely be able to rebuild itself – as was the case when Cloudflare stopped providing protection for neo-Nazi site, the Daily Stormer, in 2017.

“They quickly came back online using a Cloudflare competitor,” Mr Prince wrote.

“That competitor at the time promoted as a feature the fact that they didn’t respond to legal process.

He added: “I have little doubt we’ll see the same happen with 8chan. While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online. It does nothing to address why mass shootings occur. It does nothing to address why portions of the population feel so disenchanted they turn to hate.

“In taking this action we’ve solved our own problem, but we haven’t solved the Internet’s.”

8chan is a forum created in 2013 by Fredrick Brennan as an alternative to 4chan, a message board popular with gamers. 8chan promised less moderation of controversial topics and images that were being removed from 4chan. As such, 8chan has hosted far-right extremist views and imagery.

Mr Brennan gave up ownership of 8chan in 2015 and has since called for it to be shut down. Following Cloudflare’s announcement, he wrote on Twitter: “Thank you so much @CloudFlare Finally this nightmare might have an end.”

8chan is now owned and run by Jim Watkins, a former US army veteran, believed to be living in the Philippines.

What is Cloudflare?

The San Francisco-based company protects websites from attacks, as well as making websites load more quickly for legitimate users.

It can be thought of as a kind of bouncer or security guard for websites that get a large amount of traffic, or may be a likely target of cyberattacks.

Cloudflare’s technology is able to verify where internet traffic is coming from, i.e. distinguishing whether the visitor is a genuine person, or a network of automated bots that is being used to flood a website. It is meant to block any attempts from “bad” traffic getting through.

Cloudflare provides protection for more than 12 million websites, and is expected to float on the stock market later this year.

Chief executive Matthew Prince has expressed concern at the power his company has to decide whether or not a website is able to exist on the open internet.


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Pentagon: Major Amazon or Microsoft Jedi deal delayed

The Pentagon has signalled a delay to a decision on whether to award a lucrative cloud-computing contract to Amazon or Microsoft.

The two companies are the last ones in the running to provide artificial intelligence-based analysis and host classified military secrets among other services over a 10-year period.

The deal could be worth more than $ 10bn (£8.2bn).

The delay follows concerns raised by President Donald Trump last month.

He told reporters: “I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon.”

The president added that Oracle and IBM – two companies previously knocked out of the bidding process – had been among those raising concerns.

And he said he intended to ask for the matter to be looked at “very closely” – despite the fact that the president’s former spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, had said in 2018 that he was “not involved in the process”.

Last month, Republican Senator Marco Rubio also claimed the Department of Defense (DoD) had used “arbitrary criteria” to narrow down the field, which he said could “result in wasted taxpayer dollars”.

Mr Rubio had previously benefited from millions of dollars-worth of campaign support from Oracle’s chief Larry Ellison.

The contract was initially due to be awarded before the end of this month, and in a statement to the Politico news site. a DoD spokeswoman did not provide specifics about why the new Defense Secretary – who was appointed on 23 July – had decided to review the process.

“Secretary Esper is committed to ensuring our warfighters have the best capabilities, including artificial intelligence, to remain the most lethal force in the world, while safeguarding taxpayer dollars,” she said.

“Keeping his promise to members of Congress and the American public, Secretary Esper is looking at the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (Jedi) programme. No decision will be made on the programme until he has completed his examination.”

Dr Esper was previously the US Secretary of the Army, so would have been familiar with the Jedi contract before taking on the new role.

The DoD had previously signalled that it might also consider Google as a third alternative.

But the search giant dropped out of the process in October, saying that it “couldn’t be assured that [the work] would align with our AI principles”.

Neither Amazon nor Microsoft has commented.

Big money

As the world’s biggest provider of cloud-computing services, Amazon had been the favourite to win Jedi.

The company’s Amazon Web Services division secured a contract with the CIA in 2013 to allow the spy agency to offload work to its computer servers.

That success helped it gain other public-sector work and it now says that more than 2,000 government agencies use its cloud technologies.

Microsoft’s Azure division also provides cloud services to the US intelligence community, and it is the favourite to win a second Pentagon cloud-computing contract out for tender.

The Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (Deos) contract involves providing email, calendar, video-calling and other productivity tools to the US military and is expected to be worth about $ 8bn.

There had been speculation that the DoD might not want to award both Deos and Jedi to the same provider to avoid becoming over-reliant on a single company.

Complicated relationships

President Trump has repeatedly criticised Amazon and its chief, Jeff Bezos, in the past.

Mr Bezos has acknowledged that his ownership of the Washington Post – which is often critical of the current administration – has been a “complexifier”, but has said that the president is wrong to consider him an “enemy”.

Mr Bezos has, however, been clear that he believes Amazon should provide services to the US authorities, even if its causes controversy.

This has included supplying facial-recognition technologies to the police as well as pursuing the Jedi contract.

“If big tech companies are going to turn their back on US Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble,” Mr Bezos told a conference in October 2018, following Google’s pull-out.

One factor that could act in Mr Bezos’s favour is that he has resisted pressure from some of Amazon’s own employees to drop the surveillance software firm Palantir as a client of Amazon Web Services because of its reported links to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Palantir’s co-founder is Peter Thiel – a billionaire tech investor who advises President Trump.

Mr Thiel has previously complimented both Mr Bezos and Amazon’s impact on the wider tech sector in public comments.

However, his view on Jedi is unknown.

Bloomberg reported last month that Mr Thiel met Mr Trump and Oracle’s co-chief executive, Safra Catz, at the White House last year when Oracle was still seen as a contender.

The news agency said the possibility of Amazon winning the Jedi contract was one topic discussed, but did not report the detail of what was said.

A a spokeswoman for Oracle told the BBC: “Thank you for reaching out. We decline comment.”

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Pregnant Jemma Lucy’s ‘irresponsible’ Instagram post banned

An Instagram post by reality star Jemma Lucy has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA said the image and text broke several rules, including encouraging unsafe practices during pregnancy and making claims about weight loss.

The post was also not properly identified as an advert, it said.

The ASA recently teamed up with ITV to create a checklist to encourage Love Island contestants to be “upfront” about their own social media ads.

Skinny Caffe, the weight-loss brand promoted by Lucy, said she had posted the message as a favour to a friend and had not been paid for it.

The firm was seeking to create brand awareness ahead of the model giving birth, and had planned a larger follow-up campaign later in the year.

Skinny Caffe said it did not believe Lucy had implied that she had used its products while pregnant.

Lucy concurred with Skinny Caffe’s comments but acknowledged the text contained in her message had been provided by the brand.

The ASA said it had investigated the matter after receiving 25 complaints from the public.

Unsafe act

Lucy rose to fame via a succession of reality TV series, including Signed by Katie Price, Ex on the Beach, and Celebrity Big Brother.

She uploaded the offending post on 5 May.

It showed the glamour model sitting by a table wearing underwear and socks, cradling a mug next to the products.

The ASA noted that although this post did not refer to her pregnancy, comments under many of her other Instagram posts did. Moreover, it said that her pregnancy had been widely covered in the press.

In light of this, the regulator said her fans might take the text’s claim that she had used the products to stay “in shape” to imply she had consumed them recently. And, it added, this could encourage other mothers-to-be to do likewise.

The ASA noted that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence does not recommend dieting during pregnancy as it can harm the health of the unborn child.

“We concluded that the ad encouraged an unsafe practice and was irresponsible,” the watchdog concluded.

It also highlighted the fact that the text also claimed the products featured could help users “lose up to 7lbs [3.2kg] in seven days”.

According to the regulator, any health claims that refer to specific amounts of weight loss are not permitted in ads.

The ASA does not have the power to penalise people who break its rules, but it can ask platforms to remove them.

In serious instances, the authority can also refer incidents to Trading Standards, which does have the power to impose fines and prosecute offenders.

The BBC has contacted Jemma Lucy for comment.

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Fortnite: UK player finishes second in e-sports World Cup

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A British teenager has won nearly a million pounds after coming second alongside his teammate in the Fortnite World Cup finals.

Jaden Ashman, from Essex will split $ 2.25m (£1.8m) with his Dutch partner.

The 15-year-old, competing under the name Wolfiez, told the BBC he was “stunned” to have finished so high.

Popular online shooter game Fortnite has 250 million users worldwide, and the event’s prize pool of $ 30m is the biggest ever at an esports event.

Jaden and his team-mate Dave Jong (Rojo) came second in the duos event.

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Norwegian Emil Bergquist Pedersen and Austrian David W – Nyhrox and Aqua – took first place, winning by 51 points to Ashman and Jong’s 47.

The singles final takes place on Sunday.

Jaden has played the game since it came out around two years ago, but unlike many of the finalists, he is relatively unknown with only a few thousand followers and fans on gaming social media.

His mother, Lisa Dallman, said she and her son used to have rows because his grades suffered at school.

She said she once threw out an Xbox after an argument – but now accepts Jaden’s career choice as a professional esports player.

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The Fortnite finals conclude on Sunday with 100 players battling on giant computer screens in the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.

Forty million players attempted to qualify over 10 weeks of online competition.

The winner will take home $ 3m and become the first Fortnite World Champion.

With $ 30m to be awarded in total, the prize pool will be the biggest given away at an esports event so far – until the annual Dota 2 tournament in August.

More than 30 nations are represented with 70 players coming from the US, 14 from France and 11 from the UK.

Fortnite is arguably the world’s most popular game and involves 100 players being dropped onto an island where they have to find weapons, build structures and eliminate each other until one player comes out on top.

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