The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated 10 key technology trends, including digital payments, telehealth and robotics. Technologies can help make society more resilient in the face of pandemic and are playing a crucial role in keeping our society functional in a time of lockdowns and quarantine. These technologies can help reduce the spread of the coronavirus while helping businesses stay open.
Here are the top 10 tech trends to watch out for during the pandemic!
1. Online Shopping and Robot Deliveries
COVID-19 has transformed online shopping from a nice-to-have to a must-have around the world. Online shopping needs to be supported by a robust logistics system. In-person delivery is not virus-proof.
Many delivery companies and restaurants in the US and China are launching contactless delivery services and the Chinese e-commerce giants are also ramping up their development of robot deliveries.
However, even with the robot deliveries, companies must establish clear protocols to safeguard the sanitary condition of delivered goods.
2. Digital and Contactless Payments
Contactless digital payments, either in the form of cards or e-wallets, are the recommended payment method to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
However, according to the World Bank, there are more than 1.7 billion unbanked people, who may not have easy access to digital payments. The availability of digital payments also relies on internet availability, devices and a network to convert cash into a digitized format. That’s Problematic, isn’t it?
3. Remote Work
Remote Working has become the new normal. It is enabled by technologies including virtual private networks (VPNs), voice over internet protocols (VoIPs), virtual meetings, cloud technology, work collaboration tools and even facial recognition technologies that enable a person to appear before a virtual background to preserve the privacy of the home. Cheers to flexible timings and pyjamas for days!
4. Distance Learning
As of mid-April, 191 countries have announced school or university closures, impacting 1.57 billion students. Many educational institutions started offering courses online to ensure education was not disrupted by quarantine measures. Technologies involved in distant learning are similar to those for remote work and also include virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing and artificial-intelligence-enabled robot teachers.
Telehealth can be an effective way to contain the spread of COVID-19 while still providing essential primary care. Wearable personal IoT devices can track vital signs. Chatbots can make initial diagnoses based on symptoms identified by patients.
6. Online Entertainment
Although quarantine measures have reduced in-person interactions significantly, human creativity has brought the party online. Cloud raves and online streaming of concerts have gained traction around the world. Chinese film production companies also released films online. Museums and international heritage sites offer virtual tours. There has also been a surge of online gaming traffic since the outbreak.
7. Supply Chain 4.0
Core technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as Big Data, cloud computing, Internet-of-Things (“IoT”) and blockchain are building a more resilient supply chain management system for the future by enhancing the accuracy of data and encouraging data sharing.
8. 3-D Printing
3D printing technology has been deployed to mitigate shocks to the supply chain and export bans on personal protective equipment. 3D printing offers flexibility in production: the same printer can produce different products based on different design files and materials, and simple parts can be made onsite quickly without requiring a lengthy procurement process and a long wait for the shipment to arrive.
9. Robotics and Drones
COVID-19 provided a strong push to roll out the usage of robots and research on robotics. In recent weeks, robots have been used to disinfect areas and to deliver food to those in quarantine. Drones have walked dogs and delivered items.
10. 5G and Information and Communications Technology(ICT)
All the aforementioned technology trends rely on a stable, high-speed and affordable internet. While 5G has demonstrated its importance in remote monitoring and healthcare consultation, the rollout of 5G is delayed in Europe at the time when the technology may be needed the most. The adoption of 5G will increase the cost of compatible devices and the cost of data plans. Addressing these issues to ensure inclusive access to the internet will continue to be a challenge as the 5G network expands globally.