Chances are last Sunday you heard about or saw Felix Baumgartner’s incredible free fall to earth. This particular jump speaks volumes about how social media, and viral videos, have evolved. Felix Baumgartner, a former Austrian paratrooper, was watched by millions on many different mediums this week as he made history. He succeeded in performing the highest and fastest jump in history after ascending by a helium balloon to an altitude of 128,100 feet.
The jump was broadcast on live television and streamed live on a one-minute delay on YouTube, where it was watched by millions of viewers. The video now has more than ten million views currently and counting. You could have also watched the jump on a live feed through the Red Bull TV app on your iPhone or iPad. The amount of options we have now to view content is astonishing, and Felix demanding the jump be recorded on more than 30 different cameras certainly helped.
The increase in the amount of people viewing news and events such as the Olympics through apps for their iPad or smartphone is astonishing. There are reports that from 2006 to 2012 the percentage of Americans viewing media through online video and smart devices has grown from 23% to 56%.
Besides the fact that we are seeing more and more monumental historic events viewed through streams on YouTube, or smartphone applications, it also signifies the end of an era. The era of live TV is slowly coming to an end, with more and more people having access to the Internet. People are able to view fantastic events on the go from their smartphones or tablets, not to mention it is easier to spread video by sending the link from your iPhone or iPad. The Internet and mobile streaming apps aren’t just being used to view funny viral videos or music videos. You aren’t seeing too many people crowding around the TV in the den of their houses anymore, now that we are always “connected.”
Felix became the first human being to break the sound barrier under his own control. He stepped out from a capsule which was attached to a balloon, and free fell over Roswell, New Mexico, reaching speeds up to 833.9 miles per hour, or Mach 1.24. The ground recovery teams at four different locations heard the sonic boom that his entry through the sound barrier made. The jump was sponsored by energy drink Red Bull, and it gave an entirely new meaning to “gives you wings.”
It wasn’t just Baumgartner’s aspirations of breaking records that drove this project forward of course. The purpose was to also see the effects of such a jump on the human body. The Federal Aviation Administration is trying to decide if suits like the one Baumgartner wore should be mandatory for space tourists. The jump proves that if a space shuttle were to fall apart shortly after take off, a human would have a solid chance to survive re-entry through the sound barrier if equipped with one of these suits.