When news about a new type of virus broke out, the world was not ready for what was to come. The Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 virus originated in Wuhan province of China. This is now established as the epicenter/epicentrum that quickly paralysed the entire Country, before the virus spread to other countries. Currently, the virus spread to almost every nation on the planet with Italy, Spain, America and Germany being some of the worst affected countries.
The virus seems to have finally subsided in Wuhan and life is slowly returning back to normal. However, when the virus was at its peak, ventilators were the need of the hour. The virus affects the respiratory system and symptoms include difficulty in breathing. Beside the lockdown which played a part in controlling the spread of the virus, ventilators supplied by Huber & Ranner, a German company played a vital role in combating the illness.
However, the technical team could not travel from Germany to Wuhan in order to install the ventilators and demonstrate how to use them. This is where a Bangalore based startup BlinkIn, stepped in to the rescue. According to reports, BlinkIn developed an augmented reality (AR) product named Scotty to provide visual guidance to the technicians in Wuhan. They did this based out of their office in Pocking,Germany. All that the technicians in Wuhan had to do was to click on a link to see a visual demonstration.
The idea behind Scotty was to use lightweight technology in order to provide just enough AR support to get the job done ‘then and there.’ Scotty requires minimal computational power unlike traditional AR, which relies heavily on heavy downloads, graphics processing units and figuring out how to use it.
It is truly wonderful to see how different technologies are adapting to these uncertain times and it will certainly be interesting to see how AR can be merged into other technologies as well in the future.
William H Gates Sr., The Father Of Bill Gates Passes Away
Bill Gates shared the news of the demise of his father William H. Gates Sr., in a blog post. Bill Gates announced the news in a blog post saying his father passed away peacefully on Monday at their family residence in Washington. William Gates was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and is the most likely cause of his death.
William Gates Sr.,was a well known civic leader, attorney and philanthropist and is also one of the key figures in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In an obituary the family credited the patriarch with a “deep commitment to social and economic equity,” noting that he was responsible for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s first efforts to improve global health as well as his advocacy for progressive taxation, especially unsuccessful efforts to pass a state income tax on the wealthy in Washington.
Bill Gates mentioned in his blog that his father always had the knack for taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Bill Gates also mentions how his father’s legal advice has helped him a lot and other famous personalities which include Howard Schultz of Starbucks.
My dad was the “real” Bill Gates. He was everything I try to be and I will miss him every day.https://t.co/OnAEsmosNb
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) September 15, 2020
Bill said his father wrote him a letter and one of the excerpts from it was “I have cautioned you and others about the overuse of the adjective ‘incredible’ to apply to facts that were short of meeting its high standard. This is a word with huge meaning to be used only in extraordinary settings. What I want to say, here, is simply that the experience of being your father has been… incredible (sic.)”
Bill Gates summed up William H. Gates’ life in the best way possible in his blog post. Bill said “I know he would not want me to overuse the word, but there is no danger of doing that now. The experience of being the son of Bill Gates was incredible. People used to ask my dad if he was the real Bill Gates. The truth is, he was everything I try to be. I will miss him every day (sic.)”
We at Startup Stories extend our deepest condolences to the Gates family as they mourn the death of William H. Gates Sr.
TikTok Ban Paves The Way For YouTube Shorts
Google is the latest entity to take advantage of the Indian Government’s ban of the viral application TikTok. Google plans to introduce a new feature on YouTube called YouTube Shorts. The feature for all intents and purposes mimics the same features TikTok used to provide. The new feature will mimic many of TikTok’s most popular features, allowing users to make and post 15 second videos with built in creative tools encouraging them to add licensed music and more.
The YouTube Shorts is being bundled into the main YouTube app for Indian users, where it will appear with a prominent “create” button. The videos can also be set to music, thanks to YouTube’s access to a large library of songs that it says will continue to grow over time. India will be the first country where YouTube Shorts will be launched. YouTube said “Music for these videos will be available through in-product music picker feature. The picker currently has 100,000s of tracks, and we’re working with music artists, labels, and publishers to make more of their content available to continue expanding our catalogue (sic.)”
TikTok was enjoying an unrivalled popularity in India as it became a means to keep boredom at bay during the nationwide lockdown which was imposed in light of the COVID-19 virus. TikTok amassed more than 200 million users in India and this is mostly due to the cheap internet plans rolled out by Jio Telecommunications, which made the internet accessible to every person even in the remote corners of India.
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However, the Indian government announced that it would ban 59 Chinese applications in which TikTok was one, along with WeChat, Helo, Cam Scanner and many others. The ban was imposed citing data security and concerns about data being shared with the Chinese Government. This left a huge void in the instant video sharing space and Facebook was the first to cash in on it by releasing Instagram Reels. Even Instagram Reels does not have any standalone application but is instead a feature in the Instagram app where it is promoted heavily.
Neither Instagram nor YouTube have tried to clone TikTok’s patented search algorithm and are instead relying on their own discovery algorithms to push content to the users. As TikTok continues to be banned more and more players will look to cash in on the massive void left by the viral app. Facebook and Google are the first major players to try to take a chunk of TikTok’s user base. It will be interesting to see how YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels will perform in the future.
Vodafone Idea Gets Rebranded To Vi
Vodafone Idea is one of India’s largest telecommunications companies along with Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio. Vodafone Idea has a market share of 23% in India and Reliance Jio leads the market with a share of 34%. Indian telecom companies have been hurt badly by the Supreme Court verdict on the Adjusted Gross Revenues (AGR) case. The AGR is a fee sharing mechanism between the telcos and the government who shifted to the ‘revenue-sharing fee’ model in 1999, from the ‘fixed license fee’ model. In this course, telcos are supposed to share a percentage of their AGR with the government.
Following the Supreme Court verdict which came against the favour of telcos, the verdict directs the telcos to pay the due payments to the government over a course of ten years. The total amount due as per the Department of Telecom’s submission to the Supreme Court is Rs. 119,292 crores. Out of its total dues of Rs. 43,980 crores, Bharti Airtel has paid Rs. 18,004 crores so far while Rs. 25,976 crores are still remaining. Vodafone Idea’s dues are the highest at Rs. 58,254 crores, of which the company has paid Rs. 6,354 crores and the balance due is Rs. 51,400 crores.
This has hurt both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea as they have to raise enough capital to pay the dues. Failure to pay the dues means the telcos are looking at bankruptcy. According to a report by Jefferies Equity Research, dated September 1st, Vodafone Idea could require up to ₹18,800 crores by the end of March 2023. To do so, it will need to raise money since its existing operating profit is less than annual payments that will be due. Vodafone Idea on Friday said it will raise up to ₹ 25,000 crores. The fundraising will be through the sale of shares or non convertible debentures (NCDs.) Both routes of fundraising have a limit of ₹ 15,000 crores each. The proposed fundraising is subject to regulatory and shareholders approvals. Vodafone Idea will take up the proposal at its annual general meeting on 30 September.
Vodafone Idea has therefore announced a rebranding as part of its fundraising efforts and going forward Vodafone Idea will be called Vi. This is because Idea is now integrated with Vodafone. Launching the new brand, Ravinder Takkar, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Idea Limited, said “the brand integration not only marks the completion of the largest telecom merger in the world but also sets us on our future journey to offer world class digital experiences to one billion indians on our strong 4G network. VIL is now leaner and agile and the deployment of many principles of 5G architecture has helped us transform into a future-fit, digital network for the changing customer needs (sic.)”
The future of Vi is still uncertain and more updates will be revealed in the following weeks and a new updated tariff plan will also be rolled out. Vi looks to earn back its customers and get back to being a strong market leader which it once was and only time will tell what is in store for Vi and its customers.
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