The world is changing dramatically due to COVID-19. From work to learning to our personal lives, no area has remained unimpacted by the global pandemic. Many of the effects are negative — how long must we stay away from our friends and family and wear masks everywhere we go? — but others have the potential to be positive.
Technology is one area that is, in fact, thriving — and has the potential to change the world for the better. Just which innovations are proving successful during the pandemic and will reach unprecedented heights even after our lives return to normal, or at least some semblance of normal? Here are a few to have on your radar.
#1 Telehealth Tech
Telehealth technology has certainly proven to be indispensable during the pandemic, with platforms like Doxy.me, WebEx for Healthcare, and many others allowing providers and patients to connect virtually and safely without risking their health. But even before COVID wreaked havoc on the world, telehealth was growing. According to an American Medical Association (AMA) study of national insurance claims, telehealth increased 53% between 2016 and 2017.
Many in-person medical visits can be handled virtually or over the phone — and telehealth saves both patients and providers a lot of wasted time. Moreover, telehealth helps accommodate numerous populations, including those with limited or no access to in-person care such as individuals living in rural locations.
Thanks to the pandemic, people are realizing that telemedicine is a viable and in some ways superior alternative to in-person care in many cases.
#2 Artificial Intelligence (AI)
This may seem like a no-brainer. After all, hasn’t AI become a central part of our lives even without the pandemic to lend a helping hand? But COVID has given AI new significance.
For one, because many employees are feeling overworked and stressed beyond normal limits, employers are increasingly relying on AI to pick up the slack. For example, chatbots can respond to basic customer queries without human intervention.
Additionally, AI is not subject to the same errors and mistakes that humans are. It doesn’t take sick days or require a salary. It can’t get COVID, either. And, it can speed up, as well as improve, operations — making it a technology employers will be embracing more and more now and in the future.
You’re probably familiar with fitness trackers like Fitbits and smartwatches like the Apple Watch. But wearable technology extends far beyond these devices. They offer easy, simple ways of measuring, tracking, and analyzing aspects of your life, such as your health.
Smart jewelry like the Oura ring, for example, allows you to see data about your health, including your sleep, heart rate, and activity. Implantables, such as pills individuals can swallow, can go a step beyond and monitor your blood pressure from inside your body, rather than outside.
These technologies were popular before COVID, but now, the horizon for wearables is looking great. For example, some governments are already leveraging contact-tracing apps to monitor the spread of COVID in their regions. While there are some notable privacy concerns, we could see wearable technology be used to track the virus and those who come in contact with it in the future.
Chances are, you’re leaving your house a lot less frequently than you used to. But with technology, this is all the more possible — primarily thanks to the magic of eCommerce. You can buy all your essentials, from soap and shampoo to clothing to furniture. You can even have your groceries delivered to you.
eCommerce has seen rapid, global growth because of COVID-19. For example, in Brazil, online sales rose 66% in 2020. Brazil is not unique in this respect. eCommerce has surged across the world, and it’s showing no evidence of slowing down. This market will reach new heights even after the pandemic, now that we’ve seen the convenience — and, of course, the measure of safety — this alternative has over brick-and-mortar storefronts.
#5 Home Entertainment and Streaming Apps
During the pandemic, in-person entertainment has largely taken a hiatus. Broadway went dark for the longest period in its illustrious history. Many movie theaters remain closed. Concerts are limited to online forums.
What comes as bad news for the in-person entertainment industry is good news for at-home entertainment. Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, Hulu, YouTube, and other streaming apps have seen tremendous growth as people are relying on their televisions, laptops, tablets, and even mobile devices for their TV and movie consumption needs. And that’s unlikely to go away anytime soon.
#6 Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is not a new innovation, relatively speaking. The force behind smart homes, smart cities, and more, this interconnected network of technology, appliances, and devices exchanging data over the internet is becoming a staple in the COVID landscape.
Smart factories and manufacturing are making it possible to limit the number of people who need to work on-site, thus reducing the risk of contagion. Instead, employees can power equipment remotely, using their devices.
The IoT is also making it possible to keep track of vulnerable populations — again, without requiring in-person contact. For example, BeClose monitors the activity of people over the age of 65 who live alone through sensors and can notify caregivers about potential problems.
#7 Augmented Reality (AR)
AR has implications across industries, from education to hospitality. By simulating reality, the technology allows people to experience situations without actually being there.
After the pandemic, AR will prove indispensable as businesses of all types consider how to safely transition their employees back to the in-person workplace or choose to stay remote. For example, AR will be essential for helping train workers in a range of scenarios and operations.
These aren’t the only technologies that are set to explode in a post-pandemic world — or have already. Every day, for instance, we leverage telecommuting and remote work platforms like Zoom to complete our jobs. While some of these technological booms may be short-lived once life achieves some semblance of normalcy again, innovations like telehealth, wearable technology, AR, and others are definitely here to stay for the long haul.