Technology is changing the way people all over the world work, learn and socialize. Especially during the global COVID-19 pandemic, people have found countless new ways to connect with each other, no matter what stood between them.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
These technology innovations are helping people live healthier, experience new things, and foster relationships with friends and family in new and exciting ways.
Between esports and the popularity of live streaming, the gaming community is quickly becoming one of the world’s most vibrant, active, and connected online communities. Esports, where professional gamers play popular multiplayer titles competitively, would have been unthinkable not too long ago. Today, revenue in the esports industry is projected to hit $1.6 billion by 2024 and has already surpassed $1 billion in 2021.
Meanwhile, the video game streaming platform Twitch has become massively popular for the way it connects millions of fans with a thriving community of gaming “streamers,” some of whom make millions of dollars a year solely through Twitch earnings. These gaming communities are known for being extremely passionate and connected, often taking over Twitter’s trending page.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, people worldwide were suddenly wholly cut off from social interaction, with the possible exception of family members or roommates. Luckily, we had the technology to meet unprecedented challenges and create new ways of socializing. Platforms like Zoom and Google Meet have become famous for facilitating much more than virtual work meetings.
People have set up active social groups and rosters of Zoom trivia and game nights online, accessible to anyone who wants to play, even from hundreds of miles away. People all over the world can effectively use video conferencing software to host virtual parties. With today’s video conferencing capabilities, families can have dinner together from opposite sides of the planet, and friends can connect with each other without ever meeting in person.
Live streaming isn’t just popular for gamers. The world’s most famous musicians and bands are transforming the concert experience by streaming live performances online. These concerts aren’t just video recordings of the musician on an empty stage. Many artists are creating highly technical, cinematic concert experiences that could never be pulled off in a traditional concert setting.
For example, the popular band AJR put on a virtual concert, “One Spectacular Night,” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when they were forced to cancel in-person shows. The event went where no in-person concert could go, with the artists directly interacting with fans through the concert’s chat function and using their “stage” in unique ways. Everyone had the best seat in the house, too. The level of interactivity AJR displayed wouldn’t be possible in a normal concert setting, and tickets would not be nearly so accessible.
In the past, watching a movie with someone in another room, house, or city usually required pulling up the video together and carefully syncing up the two over the phone. Now, though, streaming services are making movie nights from afar as easy as watching in the same living room.
For example, Disney+ recently added a feature called “GroupWatch,” which allows users to watch Disney+ content with friends and family members in perfect sync (although everyone will need to have access to a paid Disney+ account, of course). Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service has a similar function called “Watch Party.”
Fitness is crucial for a healthy lifestyle, but going to the gym can be intimidating for many people and difficult to afford. Virtual reality is becoming the next big thing in fitness, revolutionizing how people work out and helping people live healthier lives without fear.
Numerous VR fitness games have become extremely popular, all accessible through the $300 entry-level Oculus Quest gaming system. The community of one game in particular, “Supernatural,” is known for being incredibly supportive and inclusive. One player and active community member even got to become a coach in the game after inspiring the developers.
Similar to fitness, therapy is vital for a healthy lifestyle and relationships. People can be hesitant to try therapy, though, due to the stigma surrounding mental health as well as the often pricey cost of therapy sessions and the limited availability of counselors.
Virtual therapy apps, which have gained popularity due to their accessibility and welcoming nature, have been proven just as effective as in-person counseling. Users can talk to their therapist from the comfort and privacy of their own homes or message their therapist on the go from their phone. While virtual therapy isn’t free, it is significantly less expensive than in-person therapy and may even be covered by the users’ health insurance.
Technology is creating new opportunities that would have been unthinkable only a decade or two ago. From virtual fitness that fosters confidence to game nights from around the globe, technology is breaking down barriers to bring people together.
Kids can play games with pen pals in other countries and families can have holiday dinners from different states. Work, school, and play are no longer limited to where a person lives, only where the internet can take them.
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