With the COVID-19 pandemic taking the world by storm, various sectors – from governments to businesses and organisations – turned to technology as a viable solution to the many hurdles they were facing. By leveraging technology, it became possible to provide better care to those impacted by the pandemic, and also to ensure seamless business operations.
Thanks to the widespread adoption of technology during the pandemic, several technological trends have emerged that are likely to become standard within the industry even after the outbreak has ended. Various technological advancements were achieved during the COVID-19 crisis, and most will continue to be relevant beyond the epidemic. To provide an overview of the most significant innovations, I have singled out five of them for discussion.
1. Artificial Intelligence and Other Technologies in Healthcare
The Coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on healthcare, particularly in the accelerated adoption of technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Although the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare facilities were already increasingly exploring AI before the outbreak, the pandemic has certainly expedited its implementation worldwide. Therefore, it’s crucial to grasp how this has been integrated into healthcare systems to improve patient care and outcomes.
Several real-world examples demonstrate the effectiveness of artificial intelligence systems. For instance, several AI systems were able to anticipate the onset of the viral pandemic by analysing vast quantities of data from various sources, identifying a link that indicated the emergence of the virus and its ability to spread.
In addition, Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are being utilised to study the pathogen and create a vaccine. Although these algorithms are not yet sophisticated enough to provide a complete solution, they have proven useful in data processing, which could aid researchers in identifying potential vaccine candidates or other valuable insights.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in the use of telehealth technologies, which enable remote diagnosis and treatment of patients. This trend is expected to continue even as countries ease their lockdown restrictions. With people largely staying indoors, they have become more cognisant of the fact that they can receive medical assessments through their smartphones, hence are less likely to visit a clinic.
2. The Changing Definition of Shipping Due to New Technologies
The retail industry has undergone significant changes in recent times, primarily due to the advent of delivery applications and business software for management purposes. This was further accentuated in the past year, with lockdowns triggering a significant growth in online sales and app-based delivery services for essential items like groceries, clothing, and medicines. Additionally, the distribution industry has seen several technological advancements during the pandemic, reinforcing the importance of technology in the retail sector.
Initially, the rise in online sales brought about the development of autonomous and contactless shipping. To safeguard all stages of the supply chain, businesses had to find a means to adhere to safety protocols and hence adopted these latest delivery methods. With minimal interaction between drivers and customers, contactless delivery swiftly gained popularity.
Despite the difficulties presented by the ongoing health crisis, technical innovations have enabled the creation of autonomous cars and drones for secure package delivery. It’s envisaged that these new delivery modes will continue to attract attention even after the aftermath of the pandemic due to their hygienic and dependable service. As a result, both businesses and consumers will place greater importance on this area to ensure prompt and secure delivery of goods.
3. The Ubiquitous Application of Remote-Accessible Tools
As the Coronavirus pandemic posed a risk to public health, governments worldwide ordered people to stay at home. This proved to be a daunting task for businesses of all sizes across various industries, as they had to shut down without any indication of when they might reopen. To deal with this situation, many businesses started to adopt the idea of remote work, which was once considered with scepticism.
As the pandemic persisted, businesses increasingly explored the possibility of shifting to a permanent remote working model. This required the integration of various traditional and modern tools and technologies. Popular new programmes like Zoom saw a boost in users, while existing applications like Slack and the Google Suite also witnessed a substantial rise in user numbers.
Undoubtedly, once the pandemic recedes, there will be a surge of competition among corporate software providers eager to establish themselves as the new standard for telecommuting. However, the most significant development in the aftermath of the crisis is the broad acceptance of remote working practices by numerous businesses. Several organisations, including retailers and banks, have already been leveraging remote capabilities at their disposal, and during this time of need, such resources became more widely used, providing feasible alternatives to conventional methodologies.
4. The World of Virtual Reality
The workplace felt the impact of stay-at-home orders, but they also presented a chance to experiment with new forms of recreation and engage ourselves. While some of us relied on conventional pastimes like watching TV or napping, a considerable number of people opted to embrace a new trend during the pandemic – the emergence of virtual reality.
With restrictions stopping physical entry, museums were among the first institutions to leverage virtual opportunities. The British Museum, Guggenheim, Rijksmuseum, and many others have all introduced digital versions, giving people stuck at home an entertaining diversion. This has also been extended to other attractions such as zoos, landmarks, and theme parks, enabling people to explore them virtually and acquaint themselves with the experience before actually visiting in person. Consequently, ‘virtual travel’ has gained increasing traction.
The saga continued, and an array of events ranging from seminars to concerts began to take place online. As a result, fans of a particular band or artist can now attend a concert virtually or listen to a presentation by one of their role models using their phones or computers. Furthermore, Fortnite offered artists like Travis Scott and Diplo the opportunity to directly promote their newest albums within the game, showing how video gaming has also played a significant part in this trend.
It’s clear that the impact of the ongoing pandemic will persist long after it’s over. There are many events and activities that present an array of one-of-a-kind experiences, which people have grown used to, and these will probably become more sought-after forms of entertainment worldwide in the aftermath of the pandemic.
5. The Emergence of Monitoring Software
Last but not least, it’s crucial to examine the most controversial technological innovation: the use of pandemic-tracking programs. Several nations have been advocating for the implementation of smartphone apps with monitoring features to obtain a better understanding of the population’s actions and thus prevent the illness from spreading further.
To efficiently monitor the movements of their populace and prevent potential outbreaks, some governments (including Russia and China) have urged their citizens to willingly install the required programs. If we intend to follow the lead of these countries without imposing such an app on the public (which could have authoritarian connotations), we can certainly take cues from those nations that have encouraged their citizens to do so voluntarily.
The study results were mixed, showing that countries with authoritarian regimes saw more effective outcomes when multiple data sources were combined, including the use of facial recognition cameras in public spaces along with app-based surveillance. If monitoring is more effective in regions where individual privacy rights are not as protected, it seems that the technology would be most valuable in areas where it is most controversial.
Despite the contentiousness surrounding it, the utilization of facial recognition and monitoring software for security reasons is probable to continue, owing to its potential in helping to fight crime in underprivileged regions and in assisting in the prevention of terrorism.
Technology Is Already Transforming the Post-Pandemic World
The occurrence of the Coronavirus pandemic offered a distinctive chance to try out various new technological solutions. With the unparalleled challenges presented by the virus, we turned to established technologies to help us overcome them, eventually expediting the development of various niche and experimental technologies.
It’s apparent that technologies have been crucial in navigating the pandemic, and it’s logical to assume that they’ll remain integral in the post-pandemic world. The worth that these technologies have delivered during this challenging time indicates that they’re already playing a key role in shaping a new normal. In reality, they’re already impacting the creation of a world that will be substantially distinct from the one we’re familiar with, a technologically advanced planet.