Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
Crisis is the new mother of Invention
COVID-19 is causing some paradigmatic shifts. Here are 7 tech solutions that will trend because of it.
Not long ago, China faced a deadly SARS pandemic. The flipside was that it boosted the online retail business. During the SARS outbreak, Online retail firms like Alibaba profited from the internet becoming increasingly crucial for doing business, as businesses and consumers were bound to transact and shop online to maintain social distancing. Likewise, not all companies will bleed during this CoVID19 pandemic either, with a potential for pioneering innovators to come out victorious.
Throughout this ongoing pandemic, some tech industries would leverage the ‘no physical contact’ and ‘live away from the crowd’ mindset. Enthralling innovative technologies would ride a cresting wave throughout the lockdown season.
7 tech trends that are here to stay
Drones and RPAs
Drone technology, which is now dubbed as ‘Pandemic Drones’ are widely used for surveillance and contact tracking in some areas where individuals are not complying with the lockdown restrictions. In some pockets, the health authorities are deploying agriculture spray drones for disinfecting potentially affected areas which can cover much more ground in less time and 50 times faster than traditional methods. Also, Drones are used by doctors and hospitals as they are the safest and fastest means of delivering medical supplies and transporting samples from hospitals to laboratories.
Apart from medical supplies, drones are also being used as delivering groceries in some parts of China, the US, and Australia. These become particularly useful in red zones where physical contact with outsiders should be minimum.
The other COVID boosted technology is autonomous Robots where they are used to serve food to patients in Corona isolation ward and squirts hand sanitiser if both hands are put in front of it. Robots are also becoming increasingly useful in hospitals for screening visitors for COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough and cold using facial, speech recognition and contextual data like navigation to cover for the manpower shortage of healthcare workers.
COVID-19 has pushed forth the demand for surveillance in a host of contexts, starting from public healthcare. Personal devices like cell phones were deployed in the fight against Covid-19 and contact tracing apps like Aarogya Setu app in India, Trace Together in Singapore or COVIDSafe in Australia were introduced. Geo-fencing technology, that creates a virtual geographic boundary, setting off alarms anytime a mobile device leaves a particular area is deployed to ensure quarantine. Besides geo-fencing, authorities have also used call records and GPS to track primary and secondary contacts of coronavirus patients.
As educational institutes are closed, education technology or ed-tech, turned into a bare essential overnight. The upskilling platforms such as Coursera and Udemy saw a boost in their average time spent and a huge number of schools in urban India have shifted to online classrooms.
Suddenly now, this sector is exploding, the OTA platforms like Amazon Prime, Netflix have seen the surge in the traffic and even reduced the streaming quality to help the telecom infrastructure around the globe.
3D Printing, an alternative
This nascent technology is being adopted for rapid production of an essential and life-saving medical equipment like masks, shields, testing swabs and also a ventilator part called “Venturi valve”, a component required to connect an oxygen mask to a respirator.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought telemedicine back into light. As medical professionals need to stay healthy and disease-free, the need for remote technologies skyrocketed. This is essential when there is a persistent shortage of doctors, health workers and hospital beds. AI platforms are predicting the outbreak of the virus, going through piles of information about news reports, airline data, and reports of animal disease outbreaks. Some researchers developed AI- run diagnostics that can predict whether someone is likely to have COVID-19 based on their symptoms and cough– sound recordings.
This trend of using Tech products would be followed by the rise of the back end cloud-based technologies, database management systems and affiliated ancillaries.
Even after the pandemic, there would be a continuous upthrust in sectors which would replace humans with autonomous robots such as reception and hospitality, primary health care centers etc. The other avenues which would see a huge rise will be commercial self-driven/driver-less vehicles. COVID has already affected commercial aviation industry which will see a slow bounce-back amid the increasing concern for safety and sharing an enclosed space with strangers.
Will COVID push us faster into an automated, digitial world?
In the Post Corona world, the focus ought to be shifted to cost optimisation, with the domains companies would be willing to invest in will be technology, automation and digitalisation. As there would be a massive requirement of resources to engage workmen, while continuously screening personnel for body temperature, meeting social distancing norms, providing them with protective gear, additional medical insurance and other government-imposed compulsions, it will be preferable to replace humans with machines. Automation and digitisation is the road ahead for manufacturing companies, supply chain optimization, infrastructure cost optimization and the likes to help them deal with the impending slowdowns and losses of this lockdown as well as to counter any future outbreaks.
The lessons the companies have learnt is that technology, digitalisation, and automation have more than an inventive role; they are going to be the new workhorses not only for optimisation but also to handle any future contingencies that the world is going to face.
Jagannadh Mellacheruvu is an engineer turned policy zealot. He has discovered his niche after traversing through varied domains like marketing, strategy and campaign management.