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Pandemic propels mobile gaming

Mounir Jamil

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mobile gaming

As the pandemic continues to spread, we may start to think about all the time we spend between the four walls amid lockdown and quarantine; the countless swipes, scrolls and clicks that help us get through the days, and when the day comes to an end, the one mobile game we turn to.

Whether you’re into Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Among Us, PUBG, or Call of Duty, it’s rather easy to see that mobile games have grown to become an integral part of our smartphone experience. To the extent that some smartphones are being specifically manufactured and designed as gaming smartphones.

With developments in tech and gaming such as Cloud Gaming, AR/VR, and miraculous connectivity speeds, it seems inevitable that the mobile gaming industry will present its fair share of next generation gaming platforms.

While it may seem that the pandemic has put brakes on the industry, the reality is somewhat different; with smartphone penetration on the rise and increasing demands for connectivity, the mobile gaming industry is booming.

The latest worldwide smartphone penetration rate is at an all-time high of 41.5 percent with 3.2 billion smartphone users worldwide, and when it comes to playing games on your phone, studies unsurprisingly reveal that there are 2.51 billion mobile gamers worldwide.

But lets back-track for a bit. Prior to 2020, the industry was undoubtedly experiencing higher demand, however it wasn’t of this magnitude. As the BusinessofApps indicated in its report, mobile gamers grew from 1.2 billion people to 1.75 billion per month, scoring a 46 percent increase throughout the months of February to March.

But wait! What caused the spike in this period? Most obviously, the Coronavirus.

Following the global outbreak, nations were forced into lockdowns, leaving people with even more time to spend looking at screens in search of entertainment. The pandemic has certainly propelled the growth of the gaming industry in general, and on a macro level, gaming with your smartphone.

Right now, more than 50 percent of mobile gamers are older than 34. Yes, anyone can be a gamer today. What is also a shock to learn is that right now, 63 percent of mobile gamers are women, another report indicated.

With advancements in smartphones and the introduction of mobile game engines, we have witnessed an increase of mobile gamers that are oriented towards people of any age. Take popular Call of Duty, or PUBG mobile as a case.

Prior to them being available on mobile phones, gamers had to invest in a gaming console, gaming screen and controllers, if they wanted to enjoy a shooter game. Not to mention the challenges older people face when it comes to setting it all up and playing – it’s just not as simple for them as it is for the younger generations.

Right now, all it takes is a maximum of 10 clicks, a keyword search for the game of your choice, a small download waiting time – and you’re ready to shoot em up while kicking back on the couch with your smartphone in hand.

The pandemic has certainly propelled the mobile gaming industry several steps ahead. The wait now is for 5G to be fully introduced – opening up new avenues for gaming and a plethora of features that will change the way we game with our phones.

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Junior social media strategist with a degree in business. Passionate about technology, film, music and video games.

MedTech

Wearable tech start-up aims to tackle head injuries in sport

Karim Hussami

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Wearable tech start-up

An Edinburgh-based business recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help move into production of a technology to safeguard athletes against head injuries.

Based at the Edinburgh Business School (EBS) Incubator within Heriot-Watt University, the technology has been developed by start-up company HIT. The concept is wearable tech which measures and tracks head impact force in sport and recreational activities and is set to aid research and support informed decisions on the risk of brain injury.

Founder Euan Bowen, an avid rugby player, was inspired to develop the technology a teammate was injured. With brain injuries rarely reported, Bowen spotted a gap in the market for sportspeople to track brain health.

Bowen explained: “I found little technology available to monitor head impact, despite the severity of the issue across different sports.

“As a member of a rugby club in Edinburgh, I began researching and developing a project, working closely with the team to develop an initial prototype.”

Featuring a unique impact sensor, wearable across multiple sporting and activity applications, the device universally clips onto any helmet or halo headband, detecting g-force and recording impact via a companion app.

Using a traffic light system, the app records data and acts as an early warning notification for the user regarding the level of impact force recorded – highlighting the caution required in continued exercise.

“High impact sports are focusing increasingly on concussion mitigation with the Field – ‘Football’s Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk’ – study recently finding that former professionals are three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than the general population,” Bowen noted.

Kallum Russell, manager of the EBS Incubator said: “HIT Impact is a much-needed technology to track and support the current efforts to increase sports safety at a time when governing bodies across high impact sports are increasingly focused on minimizing head trauma.”

The current parliamentary inquiry into concussion recently heard evidence about the long-term implications of repetitive head trauma on sports people with MPs asking how sports could be made safer.

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MedTech

Official: EU agency to confirm AstraZeneca blood clot link

Associated Press

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AstraZeneca blood clot

A top official at the European Medicines Agency says there’s a causal link between AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine and rare blood clots, but that it’s unclear what the connection is and that the benefits of taking the shot still outweigh the risks of getting COVID-19.

Marco Cavaleri, head of health threats and vaccine strategy at the Amsterdam-based agency, told Rome’s Il Messaggero newspaper on Tuesday that the European Union’s medicines regulator is preparing to make a more definitive statement on the topic this week.

Asked about Cavaleri’s comments, the EMA press office said its evaluation “has not yet reached a conclusion and the review is currently ongoing.” It said it planned a press conference as soon as the review is finalized, possibly Wednesday or Thursday.

Based on the evidence so far, Cavaleri said there’s a clear association between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the dozens of rare blood clots that have been reported worldwide amid the tens of millions of AstraZeneca shots that have been given out.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to affirm that there isn’t a cause-and-effect relationship between AstraZeneca vaccines and the very rare cases of blood clots associated with a low level of platelets,” Cavaleri was quoted as saying.

AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Late in the day, however, the pharmaceutical company and Oxford University, which developed the vaccine, announced they were pausing the trial of their jabs in children while British regulators investigate the potential blood clot link in adults.

“Whilst there are no safety concerns in the pediatric clinical trial, we await additional information” from the British regulator, an Oxford spokesperson said in a statement.

In Geneva, the World Health Organization said its experts were also evaluating a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots — and that it might have a “fresh, conclusive assessment” before Thursday.

In March, more than a dozen countries, including Germany, suspended using AstraZeneca over the blood clot issue. Most EU nations restarted on March 19 — some with age restrictions — after the EMA said the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks of not inoculating people against COVID-19. At the time, the EMA recommended the vaccine’s leaflet be updated with information about the rare clots.

Any further doubts about the AstraZeneca vaccine would be a setback for the shot, which is critical to Europe’s immunization campaign and a linchpin in the global strategy to get vaccines to poorer countries. The AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper and easier to use than rival vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna and has been endorsed for use in over 50 countries, including by the 27-nation EU and the World Health Organization. U.S. authorities are still evaluating the vaccine.

Cavaleri said while EMA was prepared to declare a link, further study was still needed to understand why and how the phenomenon occurs.

He said the rare blood clots, including some in the brain, coupled with a low level of blood platelets that may make people at risk of serious bleeding, “seem to be the key event to study further.” Cavaleri promised more details soon, adding: “In the coming hours, we will say that the link is there, how this happens we still haven’t figured out.”

Cavaleri said the biological mechanism for how the vaccine might be causing the rare clots was still unknown and if it was linked to how the shot is made, other vaccines with similar technologies might also need to be evaluated.

He stressed the risk-benefit analysis remained positive for the AstraZeneca jab, even for young women who appear to be more affected by the clots.

“Let’s not forget that young women also end up in intensive care with COVID. So we need to do very meticulous work to understand if the risk-benefit analysis remains for all ages,” he was quoted as saying.

He ruled out a preventive therapy to address the rare blood clots, saying there is still too much unknown about the phenomenon.

Even after the March 19 restart, the Dutch and German governments suspended the jabs for people under 60 and some Europeans have been shying away from getting a shot.

Romania’s national vaccination committee’s chief, Valeriu Gheorghita, said Tuesday that since March, 207,000 people in Romania had canceled their AstraZeneca vaccine appointments and another 92,000 simply didn’t show up.

“It is a high percentage, a third of people scheduled who did not show up,” Gheorghita told reporters.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declined to be drawn directly into the latest warnings about the vaccine but urged people to look at the advice from Britain’s independent Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency.

“Their advice to people is to keep going out there, get your jab, get your second jab,” he said during a visit Tuesday to an AstraZeneca facility in Macclesfield, in northwest England.

Last week, Britain’s MHRA said seven people had died in the U.K. due to blood clots after getting the AstraZeneca jab. It said it wasn’t clear if the shots are causing the clot and that it was undertaking a “rigorous review” into the reports. The agency said it had identified 30 blood clot cases out of 18.1 million AstraZeneca jabs given by March 24.

Adam Finn, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Bristol, said the latest surge of COVID-19 cases that is filling up hospitals across Europe should prompt people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“If you are currently being offered a dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, your chances of remaining alive and well will go up if you take the vaccine and will go down if you don’t,” he said.


ROME (AP) — By NICOLE WINFIELD and PAN PYLAS

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MedTech

AUB starts U.S.-based company for research on cardiovascular disease

Inside Telecom Staff

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cardiovascular disease

In a MedTech first for the Mediterranean country of Lebanon, a team from the American University of Beirut (AUB) has established a biotech corporation in the U.S. devoted research on biomarkers for cardiovascular disease.

The school told Inside Telecom that team physicians and scientists from AUB have founded the first US-based biotech S-Corporation, Teucer Biotech Inc., centered on an AUB-generated original invention.

Teucer Biotech Inc. is founded around U.S. Patent 10,801,066 issued for the “Determination of risk for development of cardiovascular disease by measuring urinary levels of podocin and nephrin messenger RNA,” with patent positions also issued in Canada, Europe, and Australia.

“We believe we have uncovered a novel clinical biomarker which predicts the development of adverse cardiovascular outcomes (hypertension, acute coronary syndrome, stroke, dementia, peripheral vascular disease, and others) much earlier and with substantially greater prediction power than the earlier currently employed risk predictor, namely “moderate albuminuria (increase albumin in urine),” said Dr. Kamal Badr, AUB professor of internal medicine.

An S-Corporation is akin to a limited liability company or partnership. In general, the corporation itself does not pay any income tax but rather any gain or losses are divided among the partners or shareholders who are then responsible for payment as an individual income tax.

Along with AUB, the company is owned by co-founders Kamal Badr; Assaad Eid, associate professor of anatomy and molecular medicine; Robert Habib, former AUB faculty member and current director of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Research Center, Chicago, IL, USA; and Joao Lima, professor of cardiology, radiology, and epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University.

Additionally, Dr. Yousif Asfour, chief innovation and transformation officer, represents AUB on Teucer’s Board of Directors, which is chaired by Professor Badr.

“We contend that our findings, once validated across large populations and disease states, will significantly reduce the global burden of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the world, by providing a more robust and reliable indicator for pre-clinical systemic vascular injury many years prior to overt cardiovascular events, thereby triggering much earlier behavioral and pharmacological interventions,” added Dr. Badr.

On March 31, 2021, Drs. Kamal Badr, Assaad Eid, and Yousif Asfour presented AUB President Fadlo Khuri with the stock certificate representing AUB’s part ownership of Teucer Biotech Inc.

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