Posts tagged with "tech"

Artwork by and for use by 360 Magazine

5 things you need to know about NFTs

5 things you need to know about NFTs

Non fungible tokens. You’ve probably heard about the latest internet phenomenon that is dominating headlines in the art world and beyond.

Little wonder. Digital artist Beeple sold his artwork for an incredible £69 million ($96 million) earlier this year, while even Twitter founder Jack Dorsey got in on the act by attracting $2.5 million for his first-ever tweet.

If you’re wondering how you can get in on the action on the technology that promises to revolutionise the way we trade, here are five things you should know first.

They’re unique digital certificates of ownership…

A non-fungible token, or NFT, derives its name from the idea of fungibility. Put simply, this is the idea that something can be replicated, or traded for something else of a like kind. A 10-dollar bill is a prime example of a fungible item: there are billions of them in existence thanks to the US Federal Reserve printing them out regularly, which means their value will always be kept to whatever 10 dollars is worth. It can also easily be traded to buy 10 dollars’ worth of goods or service.

A non-fungible item, on the other hand, is completely unique. Take a winning lottery ticket: yes, someone else might have the same numbers as you, but it’s impossible to replicate that ticket at will.

The Mona Lisa is another example. People can copy it, but they’ll never produce the original. This is why Da Vinci’s masterpiece is priceless – and non-fungible.

When somebody has something non-fungible, then it’s natural that they want to certify its validity. This is where an NFT comes in: it’s a unique virtual certificate that is verified by Blockchain. A Blockchain acts as a kind of independent secure public ledger, so that people can see the details of the transaction and who owns the item.

In short, it’s an assurance of authenticity – and people are prepared to pay big money for the NFTs of certain things.

… but people can still download digital copies of an item

It’s important to note that an NFT doesn’t prevent people from digitally copying the item in question. With a physical piece of art, you control where you keep it and who sees it, but people can still download an NFT artwork to their own collection if they want.

The value in an NFT, therefore, is proving that you own the original version of that work, rather than a copy.

So, while a digital copy might be a cool thing to have, its value will never actually increase. An NFT, on the other hand, ensures that a coveted work achieves its true value for being the original.

A good example is an NFT for an album. Fans can download digital copies, but the musician with its NFT is the only one who can claim to be the owner — and earn a percentage of the resales and royalties.

They’re collectibles

Anyone who likes to collect things knows that most of the fun comes from having something that other people don’t have. Whether it’s a rare type of stamp or football sticker, there’s a certain thrill in possessing something special.

NFTs are the ultimate collectible. In the NBA, some of the most memorable clips in the organisation’s history have been converted into the tokens so that fans can buy and trade them. While fans can still view any clip they want, some of the most wanted sell for thousands of dollars, simply so the owner can say they possess it — and potentially sell it later, of course.

The human need to collect things is something that runs deep, something that some theorists say harks back to our hunter-gatherer days when survival meant accumulating as many things as possible. It might explain why the NFT craze has taken off so rapidly and ensure that it continues to dominate the headlines for some time yet.

They could eliminate ticket fraud

Ever paid over the odds for concert passes or, even worse, unwittingly bought a forged ticket? NFTs may make this a thing of the past.

If an event organiser uses the token to sell tickets, they would have a cast-iron seal of authenticity and fraudulent sellers would be unable to replicate them. What’s more, because blockchain allows the NFT owner to verify which tickets are acceptable, they will have the control to reject those that are sold above their face value and prevent the transaction.

This promises to be a huge business with so many major artists expressing their dislike of ticket fraud in the past. Platforms such as Mintbase already allow organisers to easily produce tickets as NFTs and the process is likely to get even simpler over the next few years.

It has led to some bizarre ideas…and will continue to do so

Monochrome Bleu Numérique. It might sound like a French arthouse movie, but it’s just a blue rectangle. Or, to be more precise, a digital artwork of a blue rectangle.

It’s one of many unusual ideas that are being sold as a non-fungible token on Rarible, the website where people can trade NFTs. The artist behind it, Damien Thirst, admitted that it was ‘a bit of a joke’, but wanted it to challenge the concept of ownership in the digital world. It certainly has people talking, and its price was set a 0.3 Ether (the cryptocurrency for Blockchain platform Ethereum), or $1,173 at the time of writing.

Other bizarre NFTs include buyers paying over half a million dollars for a picture of a New York Times column and a similar amount for a ‘digital house’ that is, naturally, impossible to live in.

It’s fitting for a concept that seeks to challenge the way we view ownership. While we can use NFTs to improve our lives, maybe we should accept that there are certain aspects of this technology that we’ll never fully understand.

Computer Illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Media’s New Currency

What Marketers Need to Know About Media’s New Currency

Source Digital, a leader in providing innovative video advertising, is helping marketers to stop wasting money

It’s estimated that digital advertising grew 12% over the last year, as many people were at home more during the pandemic. With billions being spent on trying to reach people as they watch videos, it only makes sense that marketers turn to new technology to advance key messaging to targeted consumers. Source Digital is leading the way in helping them maximize their revenue with media’s new currency: SAMs or Source Activated Moments. The innovative platform is helping companies stop wasting money and get more out of their video advertising efforts.

“Many marketers are frustrated because they are spending more and more on digital advertising but are not seeing the results they want,” explains Hank Frecon, the chief executive officer of Source Digital. “This is where we come in. We have helped many of these companies gain more control of their digital marketing efforts to get a result that justifies their expenditure. We are here to help to grow their business, and at the same time give consumers what they are looking for in a seamless way.”

Many advertising campaigns are being switched to Source Digital’s patented platform. The new platform gives businesses what they have needed all along, which is a way to offer their products or services to customers that have indicated interest, during videos. Here are five things to know about this new way to reach consumers through digital advertising with SAMs:

  1. New media currency (SAMs) focuses on not disrupting the viewer. People love to watch videos, but they have been turned off by the ads that interrupt what they are watching. Having a platform that will seamlessly allow you to watch a video without ad interruption but still allow the marketer to promote something without stopping their video makes a world of difference.
  2. Many businesses turning to the new media currency are able to greatly increase their revenue, because Source Digital is offering them an entirely new inventory to access to help grow their business.
  3. Rather than traditional advertising working with particular networks, the new method of advertising works across platforms. This makes it easier for marketers to reach more people without having to put in more effort.
  4. The more you know about the audience, the more you can tailor ads to them and improve engagement. The new media advertising platform helps advertisers get more insight into the audience, so they can use that to improve user experience and increase engagement.
  5. The new currency is completely changing how online video advertising is done, and it’s doing so for the better. We all learned a lot from the prior ways that video ads were done, and that information has helped to create a better experience for all moving forward.

“We see the way our platform is helping to transform the efforts put forth by marketing teams,” added Frecon. “We look forward to helping many others get on board. It’s a more efficient way of reaching your audience, increasing profits, and in getting the most from your investment.”

Source Digital’s platform quietly works in the background, gathering important data points about the person, so that it can provide a better user experience and increase engagement. Source Digital has worked with numerous Fortune 500 companies to help create a more engaging and effective video advertising experience. To learn more, visit Source Digital.

About Source Digital, Inc. 

Developed by seasoned technology leaders and inventors, Source Digital delivers a new era of contextual commerce and advertising. Offering the first in-video, contextually driven, frictionless acquisition experience, Source Digital’s technology allows content creators, owners, brands, and retailers to seamlessly engage with viewers across any device or screen in real time. An immersive approach to interactive video, Source Digital’s patented technology inspires brand loyalty organically through continuous, personalized engagement, reducing audience drift while yielding nuanced measurements and substantially increased avenues for monetization.

The Benefits of Using Online Casinos 

Are you new to online casinos and have no idea if they are actually worth playing at? Have you ever wondered why online casinos have become so incredibly popular when people still have access to good, old traditional casinos?

The benefits of using online casinos have been discussed at length by many people over the years. With hundreds of options to choose form, its easy to get lost in all the choices and feel quite over whelmed. It’s important to know why you should use an online casino, and what are the biggest benefits associated with them. 

In recent years, the online casino industry has grown massively and it is all down to the fact that we are now living in a digital age where people are constantly online on their phones or laptops. People are not going to physical casinos as often as they used to anymore. If you want to start playing at an online casino but are not sure what the benefits might be, here are a few reasons. 

A Lot of Games

One of the biggest perks of playing at an online casino is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of games available for you to play. When it comes to traditional, physical casinos, there are a limited to the number of games available due to limited space. This is not the case when it comes to online casinos. There is no constraint when it comes to space, meaning that online casinos can have many more games available to players.

Online casinos offer all the regular games that traditional casinos have, and more. An average online casino has around 400-600 games, but most of the casinos that Japan-101 recommends here have much more than that. Not only do they have many games, but also have a bunch of different themes to suite anyone. There are even casino games, similar to video games, in which you have to go on missions and complete levels. There is no chance that players will get bored with this variety. 

Many Bonuses to Choose From

One of the most innovative marketing techniques to come from online casinos is the bonuses. Bonuses are essentially free gameplay that encourages players to start or continue playing at a casino. The most popular bonus at the various different casinos is the welcome bonus. This is how casinos attract masses of new players–by offering them free gameplay. Everyone loves getting things for free. 

Welcome bonuses can come in the form of free spins on the slots, free rounds at tables games, free money to bet on a game of your choice, or even a combination of these. Other bonuses are available for people who are part of a more exclusive of VIP package as a way to encourage them to keep playing; or as incentive for those who are considering upgrading their casino account. These bonuses are a great way for players to play for free and discover the games they like, without having to waste their own money. 

Convenience

One of the best parts about playing at an online casino is how convenient it is. Going to a regular physical casino can take a lot out of your day. You have to dress up fancy, travel to the destination, wait in lines to play, and end up spending a lot of time waiting around for a few minutes of fun.

Online casinos make it so much more convenient to play all the casino games you love with just the click of a button. You can play anywhere, anytime you want because these casinos are available 24/7. All you need is to have a decent internet connection. You can play on your commute to work or even while in bed, if you are trying to pass the time.  

Easy to Get Started

For those new to gambling or casino games, it can be a bit daunting trying to figure out how all of the different games work. At online casinos, all of this worry disappears as there are tutorials on how to play the different games. Online casinos sometimes even offer different tips and tricks to help you win. 

If you need more help, you can easily search for solutions to any problems you may have or look up tutorials for further clarity. 

Anta Al Batal illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Riot Games × VALORANT

Riot Games MENA breaks cultural barriers to unite gamers with the launch of Anta Al Batal a new music beat for VALORANT

Listen Here

Anta Al Batal serves as an anthem for MENA teams vying for the ultimate prize at VALORANT’s professional and semi-pro tournaments

Anta Al Batal reinforces Riot Games’ commitment to regional gamers with first-of-its-kind Arabic music video; Creative Partnership with Dubai based Regional Record Label Sony Music Entertainment Middle East.

Riot Games MENA today unveiled a first-of-its-kind Arabic music video and track for gamers across the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, uniting its VALORANT fanbase under a common language, love of music and passion for gaming.

The VALORANT Music Beat ‘Anta Al Batal’ (You Are The Champion), produced and conceptualized by RIOT Games MENA and Sony Music Entertainment Middle East, brings together some of the Arab world’s biggest and emerging music stars; Moroccan rap sensation, Issam Harris; Egypt’s Trap Legend, Marwan Moussa; and female vocalist, Fafa, a rising star from the UAE and regional music scene.

Celebrating the passion of MENA gamers for VALORANT, which has quickly established itself as a fan-favorite in the first-person shooter community, Anta Al Batal is the latest milestone in Riot Games’ growing commitment to its Arab-speaking fanbase and follows the launch of the Bahraini servers, localization of VALORANT into Arabic and Strike Arabia.

Riot Games worked in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment Middle East to conceptualize the unique audio and video style of Anta Al Batal, that merged languages, melodies and cultural themes from Egypt, Morocco, UAE and beyond. The project took inspiration from the many cultural banners that exist across MENA, to unite gamers under their common passion for VALORANT and music.

Anta Al Batal serves as an anthem for MENA teams vying for the ultimate prize at VALORANT’s professional and semi-pro tournaments. Teams across MENA are gearing up for the second season of the Strike Arabia Championship in June and July for a spot in the Grand Finals. Winners of the regional tournament will earn the right to take part in VALORANT Last Chance Qualifier in Europe and potentially the global showdown that pits the world’s best teams and players against each other.

Anas al Hakim, Content Manager at Riot Games MENA, who masterminded creative direction of the music video, said: “Prior to online multiplayer games, music was the number one thing that transcended the MENA region. Now, with music and gaming we have a winning combination to unite our players through unique experiences that they can all enjoy. Our hope is that the bridges we build are not only between us but also with players from all around the world.”

Mike Fairburn, General Manager at Sony Music Entertainment Middle East commented ‘Music is a global connector – it binds us all and reflects the varied cultural narratives of our region. Our company culture is built around this positive force and with the Riot Games team, we found a perfect partnership focused on collaboration, as well as an openness to use music and gaming to make deep connections. We are incredibly excited and proud to share our collective creative efforts with the world”.

The vision behind Anta Al Batal was to create a celebratory moment in the region’s history of gaming, give VALORANT players a soundtrack that is truly theirs, and mark another significant milestone of Riot Games’ commitment to Arabic gamers.

About VALORANT:
VALORANT is a competitive 5v5 character-based tactical shooter for the PC developed by Riot Games. VALORANT is a precise and lethal multiplayer game with high-fidelity gunplay, a diverse arsenal of guns, agents with unique abilities, and competitively tuned maps for thousands of hours of play.

VALORANT is a free-to-play game and optimized to perform on a wide variety of PC hardware, allowing for a global audience to compete. Demonstrated by the game’s best-in-class game server quality, global infrastructure, and proprietary anti-cheat technology, Riot Games is committed to preserving the core tenets of the tactical shooter genre and upholding the competitive integrity of the gameplay experience.

VALORANT quickly established itself as a fan-favorite among the global first-person shooter community after launching its closed beta in April 2020. The game made history on its first day, breaking viewership records with 34 million hours-watched in a single day, and surpassing 1.7 million peak concurrent viewers, a peak concurrent record second only to Riot Games’ 2019 League of Legends World Championship Finals. Over the course of VALORANT’s two-month beta testing period, an average of nearly 3 million players logged on each day to play. Fans also demonstrated their enthusiasm for the shooter by watching more than 470 million hours of VALORANT closed beta streams on Twitch, the world’s leading service and community for multiplayer entertainment, and Korean video-streaming service AfreecaTV.

About Riot Games:
Riot Games was founded in 2006 to develop, publish, and support the most player-focused games in the world. In 2009, Riot released its debut title, League of Legends, to worldwide acclaim. League has gone on to be the most-played PC game in the world and a key driver of the explosive growth of esports.

As League enters its second decade, Riot continues to evolve the game while delivering new experiences to players with VALORANT, Legends of Runeterra, Teamfight Tactics, League of Legends: Wild Rift, and multiple work-in-progress titles, while exploring the world of Runeterra through multimedia projects across music, comic books, TV, and more. Founded by Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill, Riot is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, and has 2,500+ Rioters in 20+ offices worldwide.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Riot Games.

Art by Nicole of 360 for use by 360 Magazine

Electric Car Popularity In Europe

15 European Countries Had Highest Share of EVs in New Car Sales in 2020; Norway Highest – 75% Share

European nations are leading the way in new Electric Vehicle (EV) sales despite the emergence of Mainland China as the biggest market for EVs. According to data presented by Trading Platforms, 15 European countries had the highest share of plug-in EVs in new passenger car sales in 2020 – Norway had the highest at 75%

Norway A Positive Outlier In New EV Sales

Electric Vehicles have become more popular in recent times, accounting for 4.2% of the world’s total light-vehicle sales in 2020 compared to just 2.5% in 2019. Only eight countries achieved an EV share of 5% or higher in 2019, but in 2020 13 countries were able to cross the 10% mark of new light-vehicle sales.

Norway leads all nations by a wide margin with an incredible 74.8% plug-in EV share of new passenger car sales in 2020. Iceland was a distant second at 45% making them the only other country to have an EV share that accounted for more than a third of its total new light-vehicle sales in 2020.

Europe Leading The Way In New EV Sales

The top 15 countries with the highest EV share of new light-vehicle sales in 2020 were all European. China is the first country outside of Europe to feature on the rankings with 6.2%, for the 16th highest share in the world, despite being the largest market for EVs in terms of unit sales. Notably, the USA is well below the top nations at just 2.3%

Rex Pascual, Editor at Trading Platforms , commented on the rise of Europe’’s EV market;

“EV had a strong 2020 despite the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Many rich European nations effectively use policies such as tax exemptions and subsidies to encourage the purchase of EVs, making the continent a robust emerging market in the ever going EV industry.”

You can read more about the story with more statistics and information here 

Art by 360 Magazine for use by 360 Magazine

Dogecoin Interest Spikes

Interest in Dogecoin on Google spikes by 3,000% in 2021 led by the US and Turkey

Data acquired by cryptocurrency trading simulator Crypto Parrot indicates that the global interest in Dogecoin had surged by 3,233% between January and May 9, 2021, when it peaked with a popularity score of 100. During the same period, Dogecoin’s price has spiked by a whopping 12,650%.

The United States has recorded the highest interest in the meme-coin on Google Search with a peak score of 100, followed by Turkey at 86. Canada ranks third with a popularity score of 76. The asset has a popularity score of 62 in Singapore, followed by the Netherlands with 61.

Other countries recording a high volume of interest in Dogecoin include Australia (50), Austria (44), Nigeria (42), Ireland (41), and Slovenia (39)

Dogecoin emerges as the emblem of meme investing 

The rise in Dogecoin began in early 2021, and the report explores the trigger for the spike in interest. According to the research report:

In general, Dogecoin’s momentum began building after investors were eager to find out the next big hit after the excitement around GameStop and other stocks faltered. GameStop stock surged after members of the famous WallStreetBets subreddit rallied the price to new levels. Dogecoin has, therefore, emerged as an emblem of meme investing, a trend that has helped drive up the stocks of GameStop. These stocks have flipped the traditional concept of value on its head.

The rise in Dogecoin culminated in the asset hitting a new all-time high of $0.73. Notably, the interest was also sparked by celebrities. However, Tesla founder Elon Musk has been at the center of the asset’s extraordinary price movement. He regularly tweets in support of the asset.

Read the full story with statistics here!

Why More Young People Are Turning to Online Therapy

Therapy can help with a huge range of mental health complaints from stress and anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and more. There are many reasons to consider therapy, and with the internet now creating new avenues for accessing mental health treatment, it’s no surprise that online therapy has become a popular choice for young people who are seeking mental health support. Due to the COVID19 crisis, online therapy has become an even more popular option over the past year in order to help ensure that people who need additional support for their mental health and wellbeing are able to access it safely when needed. So, why is online therapy becoming a more popular option?

Added Convenience:

Online therapy is usually done from home, meaning that the client has the additional convenience of getting therapy from the comfort of their own place without having to go and visit the therapist at their office. This can be a better option for people who have busy lives or commitments like kids that might be difficult for them to work around when they get professional help. Online therapy can be done from your kitchen or living room, meaning that there’s no need to rush after finishing work for the day or find a sitter for your kids while you go for your appointment. 

Find a Suitable Therapist:

For people who live in remote areas where the choice of therapists available is not always the best, online therapy can be an ideal alternative. Online therapy offers more choice to people who live in remote or rural areas where there are limited mental health resources available to them in the local area. It provides clients with the option of finding a therapist that might be a better fit for them without being confined to the local area only or faced with the need to travel long distances to visit a therapist on a regular basis. 

More Accessible:

Another reason why online therapy is becoming more popular among young people is that it provides more access to these services for people who have physical limitations. People who are housebound or disabled might find it difficult or even impossible to go out and visit a therapist in person, while online therapy can be done from wherever is most comfortable for them. 

Less Overwhelming:

Going to therapy can be a huge step to take for somebody who has been struggling with mental health issues that they struggle to talk about. Often, the internet makes getting therapy easier and more accessible for people in this situation who might feel comfortable talking about physical health issues with family and friends but will struggle to open up about their mental health. Since online therapy can be done from home, or another environment that the client is comfortable and familiar with, it can be easier for clients to overcome the stigma that has long been attached to mental health issues and feel more comfortable asking for help. 

Familiarity:

Today, young people have been born into a world where the internet is used for pretty much anything. From applying for jobs to online grocery shopping, many young people are used to tapping into their phones or laptops when they want to get something done, so it’s no surprise that getting online therapy tends to come naturally to them. In a world where a lot of communication with friends and family is done online and there are more online services than ever before available, it makes sense that young people who are used to this way of doing things would prefer to get mental health support online too. 

What to Consider When Choosing an Online Therapist:

There are several apps that have made finding an online therapist easier, and many therapists that will typically practice from an office or their own home have also started offering online services, many as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. If you are considering online therapy as an option for yourself, there are several things to consider before you start including:

  • The type of therapy that you want – do some research into different types of therapy such as CBT, DBT, and holistic therapy to find one that seems suitable for you. If you are not sure, a good therapist can help by talking through your options and providing you with more information on what might be suitable. 
  • Insurance coverage: Bear in mind that many states don’t allow out-of-state therapists when it comes to insurance coverage, so check the location of the online therapist before you begin since they will need to be licensed in your home state. 
  • Therapist experience: It is important to choose a therapist that is experienced in and knowledgeable about the specific issue that you are looking to get help with. 

Today, online therapy has become a popular and viable way for people to access mental health services more easily and from the comfort and safety of their own home. 

'Homme 277' NFT illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

HOFA Gallery NFT Artworks

HOFA Gallery NFT artworks will appear alongside corresponding physical artworks at London exhibition this week

Press preview in gallery and virtually: Thursday 13 May 2021, 10.00 – 18.00 (BST)  

As the NFT artwork phenomenon continues to expand the boundaries of collectible art, HOFA Gallery is boldly reprising their role as pioneers with the upcoming release 15 May release of NFT artworks as digital complements to physical works currently on display in the ‘Matter & Form’ exhibition. 

The planned press preview will take place at HOFA Gallery, Mayfair on Thursday 13 May 10.00 – 18.00 (BST) in gallery or virtually by appointment (photographers and videographers welcome).  

Jan KalabLoribelle SpirovskiGregory Siff and Darian Mederos, four widely celebrated feature artists in HOFA’s latest group exhibition, will release their crypto artworks on via a special collaboration with MakersPlace – the world’s largest art NFTs marketplace.  This move bridges the perceived gap between conventional art and digital art and is part of HOFA’s ongoing effort to put contemporary art within reach of today’s younger, tech-savvy art collectors. 

HOFA Co-founder Elio D’Anna says “Traditional, conventional art has always struggled with the problem of accessibility, which meant that many people were excluded from enjoying and investing in art. Furthermore, it has meant that artists could only reach a fraction of their potential audience.” 

He continues Finally, the world of digital is steadily levelling the field, and today we are seeing the NFT phenomenon address this problem of accessibility in a new way by giving legitimacy and currency to digitally subsisting art.

In 2018, HOFA made headlines when it became the first to embrace the possibilities of blockchain-powered cryptocurrency by making their entire art holdings available for purchase using Bitcoin and Ethereum. Along with innovative partners, HOFA also helped established the world’s first digital asset-based art investment platform which enables full and partial investments in blue-chip contemporary artworks using secure blockchain technology to authenticate and record transactions.  

HOFA Co-founder Elio D’Anna sums up “By embracing the world of collectible NFT art, both the gallery and our emerging and established contemporary artists can exponentially expand their reaches.  We are finding these new audiences, consisting mainly of Millennials and Gen Zs, are enthusiastic about art and keen to have digital-first art experiences that are easily personalized and conveniently accessible via smart devices.”

Press preview: ‘Matter & Form’ at HOFA Gallery, Mayfair on Thursday 13 May 2021, 10.00 – 18.00 (BST), in gallery and virtually by appointment only.  

In compliance with Covid-19 safety protocols, all visits to the gallery will be strictly on RSVP basis.

Matter & Form video

HOFA Gallery Website

HOFA Gallery Instagram

‘Homme 277’ NFT by Loribelle Spirovski drops on MakersPlace 15 May 2021
‘Breathing Turkis Lagoon’ NFT by Jan Kalab drops on MakersPlace 15 May 2021
 ‘Games of Youth & Legend’ NFT by Gregory Siff drops on MakersPlace 15 May 2021
Art by Mina Tocalini for use by 360 Magazine

COVID-19 Wastewater Testing

COVID-19 Wastewater Testing Proves Effective in New Study, Research Offers Needed Guidance for Early Detection in Nursing Homes, Dorms

Wastewater testing is an effective way to identify new cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes and other congregate living settings, and it may be particularly useful for preventing outbreaks in college dormitories, a new University of Virginia study finds.

The research, a collaboration of UVA’s School of Medicine and School of Engineering, was led by UVA Health’s Amy Mathers, MD. It offers some of the first clear guidance on the most effective methods to perform testing to detect COVID-19 in wastewater.

The researchers evaluated and compared sampling and analysis techniques by testing them within buildings with known numbers of positive cases. They were then able to determine wastewater testing’s strengths and limitations as a tool for monitoring COVID-19 in a building population. For example, the technique proved better at detecting initial infections than determining the number of occupants infected or how long they had been infected. 

One important answer revealed by the research: Wastewater testing can detect even small numbers of asymptomatic cases, something not previously documented.

“This work could be applied to surveillance in buildings where people live in groups, where transmission may be hard to control but the risk of spread could be high,” said Mathers, an infectious disease expert in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology. “Since we can identify new infections with high sensitivity, it provides an early warning signal of when to test everyone in the building to find and isolate the newly infected persons before an outbreak becomes large.”

Wastewater Testing for COVID-19

To evaluate the effectiveness of wastewater testing for detecting COVID-19, Mathers collaborated with Lisa Colosi-Peterson, PhD, an associate professor in UVA Engineering’s Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, who connected with Mathers through UVA’s Center for Engineering in Medicine. They and their colleagues monitored wastewater from two student dormitory complexes for eight weeks. They then compared their findings to the results of periodic student testing UVA had implemented to prevent COVID-19 transmission. The researchers found that the wastewater testing caught more than 96% of cases.

One limitation of wastewater testing: It could not distinguish between new infections and virus found in stool from those who had recovered and were no longer contagious. That means the wastewater testing detected both active and former cases. “The inability to distinguish recently infected but no longer contagious persons from new contagious infections within a building is an important finding, as it means that wastewater testing would be best for identifying new cases and isolating individuals in groups without recent infections,” Mathers said.

UVA’s new research also establishes useful protocols for wastewater testing. In a scientific paper outlining their findings, the researchers describe how they collected and tested the samples, noting that refrigerating the samples on ice adequately preserved them for testing that same day. Institutions that plan to send their samples elsewhere for testing, however, may need to take additional steps to preserve the samples for longer, the researchers note. Cleansers and disinfectants used in the facilities could also degrade the viral RNA over time, they caution.

While the researchers are urging further study, they conclude that wastewater testing holds great promise for detecting and controlling COVID-19 in places where people live in close quarters. “Passive pooled surveillance of wastewater is now serving as an early warning system in many dormitories, barracks and prisons to identify new cases in situations where transmission risk is high,” Mathers said. “Applications for wastewater surveillance to inform and control infectious disease transmission will continue to evolve, but it is hard to believe how far and how fast we have come in the last year.”

Findings Published

The project was a collaborative effort of UVA’s School of Medicine, School of Engineering, School of Data Science and UVA Health’s Facilities Management. The research team consisted of Colosi-Peterson, Katie E. Barry, Shireen M. Kotay, Michael D. Porter, Melinda D. Poulter, Cameron Ratliff, William Simmons, Limor I. Steinberg, D. Derek Wilson, Rena Morse, Paul Zmick and Mathers.

The researchers have published their findings in the scientific journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

The work was supported by a UVA Engineering in Medicine Seed Grant and support from the University Reopening Committee.

To keep up with the latest medical research news from UVA, subscribe to the Making of Medicine blog at http://makingofmedicine.virginia.edu.

Art by Heather Skovlund for use by 360 Magazine

Microsoft Partners with UHHM

MICROSOFT EXPANDS PARTNERSHIP WITH THE UNIVERSAL HIP HOP MUSEUM THROUGH A $5 MILLION GIFT AS PART OF ITS AI FOR CULTURAL HERITAGE PROGRAM

MICROSOFT WILL CELEBRATE THE PARTNERSHIP AT THE OFFICIAL GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY FOR THE UHHM ON MAY 20th

Today, the Universal Hip Hop Museum (UHHM) is excited to announce their expanded partnership with Microsoft, as the leading global technology company gifts the museum $5,000,000 on behalf of their AI for Cultural Heritage program. Microsoft’s AI for Cultural Heritage program leverages the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to empower people and organizations dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of cultural heritage. Through this partnership, Microsoft will become the Official Technology Partner of the UHHM to help empower the museum’s mission of celebrating and preserving the history of local and global Hip Hop music and culture to inspire, empower, and promote understanding.

“Preserving the history of Hip Hop, celebrating the cultural contributions of the pioneers who paved the way for today’s Hip Hop generation to thrive and flourish, and promoting the positive economic and social aspects of Hip Hop have been the sole focus of the UHHM for the past decade,” said Universal Hip Hop Museum Executive Director, Rocky Bucano.

With the use of advanced technology, such as AI, Microsoft will work together with the UHHM to ensure the museum has the resources and platforms it needs to become the state-of-the-art institution they have envisioned. This partnership will allow the UHHM to design immersive experiences which will engage global audiences both today and well into the future.

“Since its birth in the Bronx almost fifty years ago, innovators have harnessed creativity and technology to evolve and grow Hip Hop into one of today’s most celebrated musical, artistic, and cultural influences,” said Brad Smith, President of Microsoft. “As a proud supporter and official technology partner of the Universal Hip Hop Museum, we’re incredibly excited about the role that Microsoft technology will play to help document, preserve, and tell this uniquely American story to the world.” 

This donation builds on a long-standing relationship between Microsoft and the UHHM who initially partnered together in 2016 to co-host envisioning sessions that helped shape the museum’s future vision. In 2019, Microsoft and the UHHM collaborated with MIT Professor Dr. Fox Harrell, to bring to life “Breakbeat Narratives” – an experience using artificial intelligence to explore the rich history of Hip Hop music – which is currently on display at the [R]Evolution of Hip Hop, an exhibition designed to give Hip Hop lovers a sneak peek of the Universal Hip Hop Museum. 

The Microsoft partnership will be celebrated on Thursday, May 20, 2021, during the official groundbreaking ceremony at Bronx Point, the future home of the Universal Hip Hop Museum. 

About the Universal Hip Hop Museum

Anchored in the birthplace of Hip Hop culture, the Universal Hip Hop Museum will break ground in the Bronx in 2021. Built as a space for audiences, artists, and technology to converge and create unparalleled educational and entertainment experiences, the museum is slated to open in Bronx Point in 2024. The UHHM will celebrate and preserve the history of local and global Hip Hop music and culture past, present, and future. 

About Microsoft AI Cultural Heritage

Microsoft’s AI for Cultural Heritage program leverages the power of AI to empower people and organizations dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of cultural heritage. Microsoft has committed $10 million over five years to expand access to Microsoft Azure and AI resources, focused on celebrating the people who have made a significant impact throughout history, using digital tools to preserve important monuments and sites for future generations to explore, engaging with communities around the world for language preservation, and creating ways for collections and archives to be more easily accessed and enjoyed. By harnessing the latest tools in ways that support an environment rich in diversity, perspectives, and learnings from the past, and sharing that knowledge and experience to be shared with the rest of the world, every society benefits.