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Esports growth amid the pandemic

Karim Hussami

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Esports growth amid the pandemic

Esports is a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers. People who love sports and games would love to see this industry grow.

Esports has turned into a very broad industry with companies competing to reach greater audiences around the world. Sports entertainment has been the source of great innovation as well as lucrative brand partnerships. The industry has been transformed into a central form of entertainment worldwide, assembling one billion US Dollars in revenue for the first time in 2019.

Media businesses are contributing significantly to the esports industry with companies like NBC or ESPN engaging and enhancing the sports business model.  According to Forbes, some of the top Esports companies include Cloud9, Team SoloMid, Team Liquid, Echo Fox, OpTic Gaming, Fnatic.

While this industry has witnessed exponential growth, Covid-19 has disrupted events with most companies cancelling their games such as TJ Sports’ League of Legends Pro (LPL).

An unlimited pause for LCK‘s spring split was also announced by Riot Games. Riot Korea said: “Due to the on-growing Corona19, and to ensure the members of the league’s safety, we have decided to have the LCK and Challengers Korea go on an indefinite hiatus. Currently, we do not have a set return date, and will keep a close eye on the epidemic to choose the appropriate date of return.”

However, companies have succeeded in turning games to virtual mode. TJ Sports continued matches online after players went into quarantine. If they are not under quarantine, the players attend matches at their club headquarters, and on-site referees will ensure fair play.

In addition, major sporting events were cancelled such as Formula 1, NASCAR, NFL and the NBA, and they all went virtual. Before Formula 1 resumed its activities, it was replaced by a Virtual Grand Prix Series with F1 drivers together with celebrities and special guests from the Esports and gaming platforms, competing on the F1 2019 game.

The Esports segment has undoubtedly experienced rapid growth because of the cancellation of sporting events around the world which has led to an increase in the industries’ popularity and fan base.

One of the countries taking advantage of this unique entertainment alternative is Malta who launched its ‘Vision for Video Game Development and Esports’ in May 2019. This move aims to transform the country into a central European hub for esports and game development.

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Journalist for 7 years in print media, with a bachelor degree in Political Science and International Affairs. Masters in Media communications.

MedTech

Five 2021 trends that will carry on into the future

Adnan Kayyali

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Five 2021 trends

The year 2020 hit us pretty hard and fast, with most of the year spent adapting and adjusting to new realities. But in 2021, people will be looking beyond just living through the pandemic, but to take back their lives in some manner.

Here are five things we learned in 2020 on a path of refinement in the coming year that will carry on into the future.

Last mile drone delivery

Drone delivery has been seeing application beyond just delivering Amazon packages and chasing curfew breakers back into their homes. Last mile drone delivery is looking to be a viable option for transporting vaccines and other light wight cargo sooner than we think.

Drone company Wingcopter is currently in the trial stages of deploying drones to deliver vaccines to remote communities where road infrastructure is inadequate or nonexistent in dire and eminent time.

Building such roads would take time which nobody currently has, and drones are viewed as an ideal method for bypassing rugged mountains and large bodies of water quickly and without risking cargo damage and deformities.

Digital health

Remote and digital healthcare will not slow down in the slightest going into 2021. On the contrary, virtual, and remote care is now seen as a better way to do many things previously done person-to-person.

In truth, just as many meetings could have been emails, many doctors’ visits could have been phone calls, and with the spread of monitoring and sensory technology, the time is ripe.

Health information technology:

CEO of Medicomp Systems, David Lareau, predicts a major shift in Health Information Technology payment methods from transaction-based to condition-based reimbursement.

New and emerging innovations such as price transparency tools, remote monitoring, and patient engagement apps can help transform healthcare reimbursement. This will not only compensate doctors properly for their services but help funnel scarce resources to where they are needed the most.

Working from Home

There is little surprise in seeing the work from home lifestyle flourish in the coming year.

Businesses have already begun incorporating remote work policies into their regular employment plans, with full or partial ‘WFH’ now a possibility depending on the job in question.

Ideas of such as XR technology, or Extended Reality, a mixture of AR and VR, are already being entertained as the idea of a virtual office slowly becomes the norm.  

Subscription-based and paywall content

Even before the pandemic, we have been seeing a slow rise of subscription-based services in everything from home entertainment to daily food delivery. As mainstream search engines and content sites fill up with all kinds of clutter, people who can afford them are putting their money into a monthly fee for special content.

Aside from the well-known Amazon, Netflix, and Disney+, online documentary sites and search engines are retreating behind subscription fees as well. Some more affordable than others.

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MedTech

Google CEO pledges $150 million in COVID-19 Fight

Mounir Jamil

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced early last week on Twitter that the U.S.-based tech mammoth Google will be “providing more than $150 million to promote vaccine education and equitable distribution and making it easier to find locally relevant information.”

Pichai also added that Google spaces were to serve as vaccination sites.

The search engine exec poured out a detailed blog post in which he highlighted one of Google’s fundamental roles throughout the pandemic – providing trusted information to all matters COVID related and how Google will be making a difference.

Of the $150 million, two-thirds will be allocated in add grants to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and non-profits around the globe. While the other $50 million will be channeled into partnerships with public health agencies that work with underserved communities.

When the pandemic first broke out, Google rolled up their sleeves and began crafting pandemic tech solutions; starting with the $170 million Grow with Google Small Business Fund where more than $53 million have been granted to help struggling and underserved small businesses owned by women or minorities.

Add to that the all the efforts that the Google CEO and his fleet are doing when it comes to helping people make informed and safer decisions.

By taking a micro-solution approach, they added COVID-19 Layer – a feature that reveals critical information of a specific area and how it is trending. And for the macro-solution; COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports – a nifty report created with aggregated, anonymized sets of data from users that have enabled the location history that displays the change in visits to places such as grocery stores and parks.

Tech rivals Apple also collaborated with Google on the Exposure Notification technology, an API that can enable apps created by public health agencies to work seamlessly between iPhone and Android ecosystems.

The news comes following rival tech giant’s move in working with the U.S. on dispatching vaccine treatments; this should come as no surprise as the Google CEO and other tech leaders have a tremendous responsibility to bear when it comes to treating the pandemic with technology.

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MedTech

Yelp users can now review COVID-19 safety measures for establishments

Adnan Kayyali

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review COVID-19 safety measures

Crowd-source business review platform, Yelp, has added a new feature that allows users the ability to review COVID-19 safety measures for various establishments.

The addition of this new feature reflects the company’s attempt at adapting to current health circumstances as well as acknowledging people’s highest concern in terms of visiting eateries and establishments.

Initially, Yelp had aimed at becoming the go-to restaurant advertising hub in the U.S., but later failed to hit the mark in terms of profitability, which has pushed it to transform over the years to diversify its features and offers.

Similar to how users recommend places as “good for groups,” “romantic,” or “good for kids,” users will soon be able to review COVID-19 safety measures with options such as “heated outdoor seating,” “1:1 session available,” and “disposable or contactless menu.”

Currently, the only option to share feedback regarding social distancing measures and mask wearing.

Yelp’s business model consisted of monetizing the business of restaurant recommendations, as it sought to become the make or breaker of a restaurant’s reputation, and for a while, it was just that.

However, competitors would use Yelp’s large customers base to sabotage their opponents with fake reviews, and in turn, flood their own review pages with unearned positive feedback.

Yelp responded to this with a software that detects fake or malicious comments and reviews and deletes them as many social platforms do with their comments.

According to Yelp, the platform enacts a filtering software that worms out fake or targeted reviews, based on reliability, user activity, and the overall quality of the review as a whole.

No rants or raves allowed, and if the user has recently installed Yelp and has very few active reviews, it could be flagged. clarify

It is worth mentioning that the problem of fake reviews could become even more dangerous with the addition of their new “review COVID-19 safety measures” feature, since customers are becoming increasingly cautious, especially during outings.

Similarly, precautions have been taken to assure that no establishment’s reputation is destroyed by a bad health and safety review.

These include:

  • The review is restricted to one branch of the franchise
  • Only users with a verified Yelp account may leave a review
  • Feedback is displayed on the app based on recent activity (within the previous 28 days)

With the world still gripped by the pandemic, people keenly search for safer places while avoiding high risk and density locations. This kind of review system seems like the logical next step during the pandemic, as technology aims to answer those very same questions.

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