05 April 2020 01:05

MediAvataar's News Desk

MediAvataar's News Desk

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Kids Insights, the global leader in kids market intelligence, issued the first in a series – Kids Insights Global Toys & Games report 2020. The study reveals a comprehensive overview of key challenges, opportunities and trends which they are seeing from the results of surveying more than 105,000 children a year across the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and India.

As discussed in the Global Toys & Games report 2020, while the industry braced difficult trading conditions across a number of markets in 2019, there are still bright spots. In an ever fast- moving and evolving toy landscape, top trends and what influences purchase decision making can shift at a remarkably fast pace.

Key points from Kids Insights Global Toys & Games report 2020:

Children’s rising financial means and empowerment. In the US, children are receiving $3.76bn a year to spend as they wish, and with a growing number of children using Debit cards, they have more financial means, empowerment and freedom than any previous generation.

Children also have far greater choice when it comes to how they spend their money, with them spending £581m on INXP in the UK (in-experience purchasing such as apps and in-game), compared to £969m on toys and games.

In the UK, over a third of 6-9s play with classic board games such as Monopoly, Guess Who and Jenga monthly. Tweens who play board games as a hobby reported feeling frequently happy 51% more than average.

The impact of Generation Speak, as children move from controlling their devices by typing, swiping to voice. Over 20% of 10-12s in India prefer to control their device by their voice.

Demand for licensed properties continues to grow, driven by an increase in gaming and YouTube properties. Minecraft, Fortnite, Sonic, Ryan’s World and JoJo Siwa all performed well over the last 12 months.

The annual spend on advertising and marketing to children by companies is forecast to reach $4.6bn by 2021*. The biggest winners of kids digital ad spend expansion is projected to be kidtech-enabled content (compliant with children digital privacy laws), YouTube as well as VOD/OTT.

While action figures are boosted by TV & movie releases and Fortnite overall, it is argued that there is now more competition in relation to licensing as boys increasingly opt for video gaming over traditional toys. As consumers ask more inclusiveness/diversity in toys, dolls are the first category to embrace the initiative. When it comes to Arts & Crafts, it is one the least licensed toy category yet, LEGO’s entry with its new DOTS range may potentially rejuvenate it in this respect. In pocket money toys, kids’ rising financial empowerment drives sales. In the UK, 3-18 year olds receive £248m ($321.95m) per month (£2.9bn, $3.76bn a year) to spend as they wish. Debit cards are increasingly being used by more British children aided by new financial products such as pre-paid cards like GoHenry.

Utku Tansel LLB, MBA Head of Global Industry Reports Kids Insights commented:

“I have been working in this industry for 12 years and in my career, I have not witnessed such speed of change. The industry is increasingly embracing sustainability and inclusivity while AR & AI push limits on innovation-driven largely by ever rising smartphone/tablet penetration among children. Our study takes readers to an exciting journey shaped by key developments and opportunities showcased in a new world order. “

Nick Richardson, CEO Kids Insights adds:

“The report provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how much our industry has changed in recent years, months and weeks. Many of us will remember the tried and trusted formula for this industry over the years: “X” number of TVR’s, ensuring key retail stockists were on-board and on occasion utilising key licensed properties. But when it comes to this generation of children they are like no other, constantly connected, with very different attitudes, behaviour and consumption traits than previous generations.”

A variety of companies with MIT ties are working to address aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the world grapples with the public health crises and myriad disruptions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, many efforts to address its impact are underway.

Several of those initiatives are being led by companies that were founded by MIT alumni, professors, students, and researchers.

These companies’ efforts are as wide ranging and complex as the challenges brought on by Covid-19. They leverage expertise in biological engineering, mobile technology, data analytics, community engagement, and other fields MIT has long focused on.

The companies, a few of whom are featured here, are also at very different stages of deployment, but they are all driven by a desire to use science, engineering, and entrepreneurship to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Moderna Therapeutics

On Jan. 11, Chinese authorities shared the genetic sequence of Covid-19. Just two days later, members of a research team from Moderna Therapeutics, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, finalized the design of a vaccine they hope will prevent infection from the disease.

Moderna was founded by Institute Professor Robert Langer, who is also a faculty member at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Sciences (IMES), investor Noubar Afeyan PhD ’87, and researchers from Harvard Medical School in 2010. The company develops treatments that leverage specialized transporter molecules in cells known as messenger RNAs. Messenger RNAs bring instructions from genes to the cellular machinery that makes proteins. By creating specially modified mRNA, Moderna believes it can develop therapies to treat and prevent a number of diseases in humans.

Following its design of a potential Covid-19 vaccine, the company quickly moved to manufacture the mRNA vaccine for clinical trials. On March 16, just 65 days after Covid-19 was sequenced, Moderna began human trials, according to the company.

The first stage of the trials is expected to last six weeks and will focus on the safety of the vaccine as well as the immune response it provokes in participants. The company has said that while a commercially available vaccine is not likely to be available for at least 12-18 months, it is possible that under emergency use, a vaccine could be available to some people sooner.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

On March 5, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced that its partnership with Vir Biotechnology, which focuses on treating infectious diseases, would extend to developing therapeutics for coronavirus infections, including Covid-19.

Alnylam was founded in 2002 by Institute Professor Phil Sharp, who is also a faculty member at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Sciences (IMES), Professor David Bartel, former MIT professor Paul Schimmel, MIT postdocs Tom Tuschl and Phil Zamore, and investors.

The company is already approved to treat patients with certain rare genetic diseases using its patented RNA interference technology. RNA interference, or RNAi, is a method of stopping the expression of specific genes through the manipulation of existing regulatory processes in the human body.

“[RNAi] technology is now strongly validated in a variety of ways and the promise of it is really remarkable,” says Sharp, who currently sits on Alnylam’s scientific advisory board with Bartel and Schimmel. “It’s the creation of a whole new therapeutic modality that I think we’ll be using 100 years from now.”

Under the terms of the extended collaboration, the companies will use Alnylam’s recent advances in delivering its RNAi technology to the lungs, in addition to Vir’s infectious disease capabilities, to identify and advance drug candidates.

Sharp says that even if the collaboration doesn’t lead to a treatment for the current Covid-19 outbreak, it holds tremendous potential for helping victims of infectious diseases down the line.


Dimagi, which provides a platform for creating mobile apps that can be used offline by cell phones of all types, recently began freely offering its mobile tool to organizations responding to the Covid-19 outbreak around the world.

The company’s platform is currently being used by hundreds of thousands of front-line health care workers globally. By enabling people with no coding experience to create mobile apps that work in environments with no cellular service, the company has transformed health care treatment for millions of people in low- and middle-income countries.

The company has already seen governments adopt its platform for Covid-19 response, including the Ogun state government of Nigeria, and it is also exploring use cases with officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in California.

The company was formed in 2002 when Jonathan Jackson’03 SM ’05 met co-founder Vikram Kumar, who was then a graduate research assistant in MIT’s Media Lab and on his way to earning his MD in the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

Since then, Dimagi’s solutions have been used for a variety of large health care initiatives, including the Ebola crisis in West Africa, where the company worked directly with health organizations to give them mobile applications that helped provide critical care during their Ebola response.

Jackson believes Dimagi can help health care workers with tracking person-to-person contact, data collection, decision support, and spreading useful information. The company is also compiling a library of free, open-source templated Covid-19 mobile applications for quick deploymnent.

“Think of it as a free app store where health organizations working on the front lines can go, download their Covid-19 applications and quickly equip their health workforces with Covid-19 apps,” Jackson says.

Biobot Analytics

Biobot Analytics, a startup that analyzes wastewater to gain insights into public health, has begun requesting sewage samples from wastewater treatment facilities across the U.S. to test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19.

The company’s technology, developed by CEO Mariana Matus PhD ’18 during her time at MIT in partnership with Newsha Ghaeli, then a research fellow in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, has been geared toward estimating drug consumption in communities since its founding in 2017.

Biobot uses a proprietary device to gather representative samples of sewage, then ships those samples to its scientists for near-real time testing. Samples can be used to track opioid use, nutrition, environmental contaminants, antibiotic resistance, and the spread of infectious diseases. The resulting insights can be used to understand the health and well-being of small communities or large cities.

In the company’s Covid-19 testing program, which it launched pro bono in collaboration with researchers at MIT, Harvard, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the teams will process sewage samples from treatment facilities across the U.S., then use a laboratory technique known as a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2.

The collaborators believe the program could complement existing testing methods in addition to helping guide community reponses, measure the effectiveness of interventions, and provide an early warning for re-emergence of the outbreak.

“There is an incredible opportunity to use this technology to get ahead of and monitor the Covid-19 epidemic,” the company wrote in a recent Medium post announcing the program. “A wastewater epidemiology system that aggregates samples from wastewater treatment plants across the U.S. would provide a dynamic map of Covid-19 as it spreads to new places. [This will be a tracker for the outbreak complementary to individual testing]. Government officials, school administrators, and employers would no longer need to rely on confirmed cases or hospital reporting to make tough decisions like enforcing work from home policies.”


Soofa, a startup that creates solar-powered digital signs in public spaces, has begun offering its city partners templates to quickly post emergency announcements regarding Covid-19. In Massachusetts, the templates have been used in Brookline to post updates about school and playground closures, in Somerville to redirect people to the town’s coronavirus webpage, and in Everett, which has posted their updates in both English and Spanish to reach more people.

Soofa was founded in 2014 by Jutta Friedrichs and Sandra Richter, a former researcher in MIT’s Media Lab. The founders refer to their signs as “neighborhood news feeds” because they offer an easy, inclusive way for community members to view and post messages.

The company’s digital signage has also proven useful for its partners outside of government. Boston Architectural College, for example, now gives viewers instructions to attend their spring virtual open house.


Pathr is a startup that uses data analytics and machine learning to understand how people move through environments. The company, which has primarily used its technology to help retailers, casino operators, and owners of public spaces gain insights into customer behavior, recently launched a new product called SocialDistance.ai.

SocialDistance.ai will use Pathr’s “spatial intelligence” platform to give operators of large spaces information on how infectious diseases might spread in different scenarios.

SocialDistance.ai was formed when Pathr’s team got locked down in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the company is based, and began thinking about how their technology could help address disruptions related to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“There’s a spatial component to disease outbreak in general, and we’ve been hearing a lot about that with this coronavirus, so that was the spark, just thinking about what we could do to help,” says Pathr founder and CEO George Shaw SM ’11.

Shaw says his team has been in touch with officials who run malls, casinos, retail stores, and various public spaces to help them make more informed decisions about allowing people to use their spaces in the time periods surrounding an outbreak.

“Nobody who operates a big space wants to limit the number of people [in that space], so this would be a way to strike that balance, to get the right social distance, the right density of crowds; it could also help owners reconfigure a space so the flow of people is more conducive to social distancing,” Shaw says.

Shaw developed the spatial intelligence platform as a graduate student in the lab of Professor Deb Roy while working on a project in the Media Lab.


Source:MIT News

Who knew merely sitting at home could be so difficult? In times of quarantine lockdown and social distancing, we could all use some compelling distractions. Now that everything is on a lockdown, and rightly so, it is perhaps time to catch up on some essential viewing list. Thankfully, with the growing rise of online streaming platforms, one will seldom run out of options to watch. To help ease out the quarantine woes, here’s a quick list of platforms with amazing content for your liking.

1. Some spectacular regional gems & original content at YuppTV

As the global leader in South-Asian content, YuppTV packs a lot of surprises for users, especially the ones looking for quality entertainment in regional languages. Extremely popular amongst the Indian and South Asian diaspora community spread across the globe, YuppTV has an equally stunning line-up of original content starring some of the stalwarts from the South Indian film fraternity. Whether you wish to catch up on the shows that you missed, view some sporting action or watch popular movies and shows, there is a right mix for your every content need.

Recommendations: Endukila, Mana Mugguri Love Story

2. Netflix and chill!

No talk about online streaming platforms is complete without the mention of Netflix. Its library for original programming is just as fascinating as the collection of shows and movies available. From Thriller to Adventure, Rom-Com, Drama, Horror, Documentaries and more, there is a lot to be viewed on Netflix and just not enough time!

Recommendations: You, Sense8, Lucifer

3. Cummunity Commerce - Trell

Trell is India’s fastest-growing lifestyle-community-commerce platform. A mobile application that enables Indian users to share and discover personalized recommendations and product reviews across lifestyle interests such as- skincare & personal grooming, fashion, cooking, wellness, movie & web-show reviews, home decor, and travel. Trell is looking to penetrate deeper into new Tier 2, Tier 3 markets in India by adding content in ten regional languages by the end of 2020. .Trell has grown 20X in the last 12 months and has emerged as one of the biggest lifestyle platforms in India with over 15 Million downloads and 5 Million monthly active users on its app.

4. Entrepreneurs at Home

Shopmatic has been driving game-changing strategies in the eCommerce space and has engineered itself to stay focused on helping its customers succeed. With its recent acquisitions of CombineSell and Octopus, Shopmatic is driving an omnichannel play for individual entrepreneurs and businesses in emerging markets, by enabling the entire eCommerce-&-retail-management ecosystems for them to succeed. In this lockdown, it gives you an opportunity to take your business from offline to online in just 3 minutes and continue to make money.

5. Prime Videos may surprise you

Amazon has been constantly growing its content offering on Prime Videos through some strategic partnerships and of course, original content. Looking for popular movies and recent releases? Or would like to have a series grow on you? Prime Videos come bearing sweet surprises for you.

Recommendation: Made in Heaven, Man in the High Castle

6. What’s hot on Hotstar?

One of India’s very own online streaming platforms, Hotstar offers an intriguing mix of content for your viewing. There is, in fact, a lot to watch on the app, even if you would like to steer clear off the daily soaps. Catch up on the previous seasons of friendly banter amongst celebrities at Koffee with Karan or binge watch Doctor Who. There is something to be found for your very own preferences.

Recommendations: Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Chernobyl,

7. Shows and movies across different languages on Zee5

One of India’s popular online streaming app, Zee5 brings you a collection of popular TV shows, movies, and original content to pick from. Whether you wish to consume the daily soaps or watch some of the popular recent releases or book your date with an original series, Zee5 has some of the most intriguing solutions for you.

Recommendations: Laila Majnu, Dream Girl, Mentalhood

Most of these platforms also have a dedicated section for kids. The lockdown could be particularly challenging for the little ones. Thus, explore the kids section to keep the youngsters engaged and inspired. More importantly, stay home and stay safe!

· Wins in ‘2020 India HQ Top 10 Overall Publishers by Downloads’ category

· Ranks Number 1 in the 2020 Indonesia Top 10 Entertainment Applications by MAU

MX Player has emerged as a force to reckon with in the Indian entertainment landscape, with its vision of offering users a holistic entertainment platform. Be it offline video playing capabilities, India's largest library of over 1,50,000 hrs of premium video content, audio music and games, all for FREE, the brand aims at answering every entertainment need of our huge and growing user base.

Reflecting its ubiquitous acceptance and usage across iOS and Google Play, MX has emerged as one of the ‘2020 India HQ Top 10 Overall Publishers by Downloads’ Category at the App Annie Top Publisher Awards. It also topped the list in the ‘2020 Indonesia Top 10 Entertainment Applications by MAU’ (the only country for which entertainment as a category was announced).

Speaking about this accolade, Karan Bedi – CEO, MX Player said, “This award by App Annie is a great recognition for our team and will inspire us to continue scaling new heights, especially in such challenging times as our users around the world are quarantined in their homes during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. In the last 14 months, we’ve tried to push the envelope across verticals – be it with content, marketing or product innovations, and we are committed to our vision of ‘Everytainment’ as we are expanding rapidly across the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Nepal and Bangladesh to help serve premium free digital entertainment to a wider global audience.”

Operating at scale in India with an advertising led model for premium content, this platform has 280 million MAUs globally and 175 million MAUs in India.

Global study of 25,000 consumers gives brands clearest direction on how to stay connected in a pandemic world.

Kantar, the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company today releases the results of the largest global study into consumer attitudes, media habits and expectations during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Surveying more than 25,000 consumers across 30 markets, the first wave of COVID-19 Barometer research provides brand owners with clear direction on how to ensure their brands stay connected to their customers during the pandemic crisis. Findings from the first wave include:

Media habits

As countries move deeper in to the pandemic so media consumption increases across all in-home channels. In later stages of the pandemic web browsing increases by 70%, followed by (traditional) TV viewing increasing by 63% and social media engagement increasing by 61% over normal usage rates.

Across all stages of the pandemic, Whatsapp is the social media app experiencing the greatest gains in usage as people look to stay connected. Overall Whatsapp has seen a 40% increase in usage; in the early phase of the pandemic usage increases 27%, in mid-phase 41% and countries in the late phase of the pandemic see an increase of 51%. Spain experienced a 76% increase in time spent on WhatsApp. Overall Facebook usage has increased 37%. China experienced a 58% increase in usage of local social media apps including Wechat and Weibo.

Increased usage across all messaging platforms has been biggest in the 18-34 age group. Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram have all experienced a 40%+ increase in usage from under 35-year olds.

There is a crisis in trust. Traditional nationwide news channels (broadcast and newspaper) are the most trusted sources of information with 52% of people identifying them as a ‘trustworthy’ source. Government agency websites are regarded as trustworthy by only 48% of people, suggesting that government measures are not providing citizens around the world with assurances and security Also reflecting the loss of trust from recent election cycles, social media platforms are regarded by only 11% of people as a source of trustworthy information

Expectations of Brands

Consumers expect the brands they choose to look after their employees first and foremost with 78% saying take care of employees’ health and 62% saying implement flexible working.

Supporting hospitals (41%) and being helpful to government (35%) is an expectation of significant minority of consumers.

There is very little expectation that brands should stop advertising with only 8% of respondents identifying it as a priority for brands. As many brands consider ‘going dark’ to save costs Kantar estimates that a six-month absence from TV will result in a 39% reduction in total brand communication awareness, potentially delaying recovery in the post-pandemic world.

For those that do continue advertising a clear majority of consumers expect advertising to make a positive contribution to society;

‘Talk about how the brand is helpful in the new everyday life’: 77%

‘Inform about their efforts to face the situation’: 75%

‘Offer a reassuring tone’: 70%

There are clear pitfalls to be avoided in advertising during the pandemic

‘Should not exploit coronavirus situation to promote the brand’: 75%

‘Should avoid humorous tones’: 40%

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