The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the implementation of wide-scale social-distancing measures in order to limit the spread of the virus. The need to stay at home has undoubtedly shifted our approaches to daily life, potentially for good.
How will the world of tech evolve through this health crisis?
Here are 10 notable tech trends that will achieve significant acceleration by the COVID-19.
1. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)
By 2030, AI products will contribute more than $15.7 trillion to the global economy. A number of technological innovations such as intelligent data processing, and face and speech recognition have become possible due to AI.
Post-COVID-19, consumer behaviors won’t go back to pre-pandemic norms. Consumers will purchase more goods and services online, and increasing numbers of people will work remotely. As companies begin to navigate the post-COVID-19 world as economies slowly begin to reopen, the application of AI will be extremely valuable in helping them adapt to these new trends.
AI will be particularly useful for those within retail and supply chain industries. Through machine learning and advanced data analytics, AI will help these companies detect new purchasing patterns and deliver a greater personalized experience to online customers.
AI tools analyze large amounts of data to learn underlying patterns, enabling computer systems to make decisions, predict human behavior, and recognize images and human speech, among many other things. AI-enabled systems also continuously learn and adapt. These capabilities will be extremely valuable as companies confront and adapt to the next normal once this pandemic subsides.
AI will increasingly contribute to the forecasting of consumers’ behavior, which became hardly predictable and to help businesses organize effective logistics. Chatbots may provide clients’ support 24/7, one of the ‘must-have’ during the lockdown.
2. CLOUD COMPUTING
Fortunately, cloud companies are weathering the pandemic stress-test caused by the sudden spike in workloads and waves of new, inexperienced users. Microsoft reports a 775% spike in cloud services demand from COVID-19.
In post-COVID-19 world, cloud technology is likely to receive a surge in implementation across all types of apps. As the virus spread, people were forced to work from home and online learning models were implemented, the demand for cloud-based video conferencing and teaching has skyrocketed. Various cloud service vendors have actively upgraded their functions and provided resources to meet this demand. Moving forward, businesses and educational institutions are likely to continue to make use of this technology. As demand for this technology continues to grow, implementation of this technology into mobile applications for easier access will be the key, hence we are allowed to be positive about further development of this technology in a near future.
3. VIRTUAL REALITY (VR)
This pandemic increased the number of people using VR headsets to play video games, explore virtual travel destinations and partake in online entertainment, as they isolate at home, they’re also using this technology to seek human interaction through social VR platforms.
Businesses have also been experimenting with VR platforms to train employees, hold conferences, collaborate on projects, and connect employees virtually. For example, scientists worldwide have turned to VR platforms for molecular design, to collaborate on coronavirus research and potential treatments. Now that businesses and consumers know the extent to which this technology can be used, we are likely to see more virtual conferences and human interactions as our new normal sets in.
4. 5G NETWORKS
5G is acknowledged as the future of communication and the cutting edge for the entire mobile industry. Deployment of 5G networks will emerge between 2020 and 2030, making possible zero-distance connectivity between people and connected machines. This type of mobile internet connectivity will provide us super-fast download and upload speeds (five times faster than 4G capabilities) as well as more stable connections.
The industry buzz surrounding 5G technology and its impact on the next-generation of connectivity and services has been circulating over the last year or so. Yet, the technology still isn’t widely available and it holds the potential to revolutionize the way mobile networks function, because of COVID-19, the 5G market may materialize sooner than expected. As large numbers of people have been forced to isolate, an increase in working and studying from home has been stressing networks and creating higher demand for bandwidth. People have now realized the need for faster data sharing with increased connectivity speeds, an acceleration in the rollout of 5G technology to ensure the bandwidth and capacity challenges of existing infrastructure is more real than ever.
As consumers are becoming increasingly concerned that their mobile devices (which are touched more than 2,600 times per day) can spread coronavirus. As the fear of spreading germs grows, so will the use of voice tech in forms of voice user interface (VUI) , which can reduce the number of times one touches any surface, including our mobile devices. Almost 80% of our communications are done using verbal communication, that’s why voice usage will continue to increase and extend to other smart-home components implicated as major germ hubs. As more TVs and entertainment components, light switches, appliances, plumbing fixtures, and alarm systems incorporate voice control functionality, there will be less need to touch them.
5. INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT)
IoT will enable us to predict and treat health issues in people even before any symptoms appear, with smart medication containers, IP for every vital part of your body for the doctor to hack to smart forks that tell us if the food is healthy or not. Personalized approaches concerning prescribing medicines and applying treatments will appear (also referred to as precision medicine). In 2019 there were about 26 billion IoT devices and it’s estimated by statista.com that their number will increase to 30.73 billion in 2020 and to 75.44 billion in 2025. The market value is about $ 150 billion with estimated 15 IoT devices for a person in the US by 2030.
IoT also fuels edge computing, thus data storage and computation become closer to the points of action, enabling saves in bandwidth and low latency. IoT will transform the user experience profoundly, providing opportunities that weren’t possible before. Gaining this experience may be forced by the pandemic, when people are spending almost all their time at home. IoT devices that make life quality better and daily life more comfortable can become quite trendy. For example, telemedicine and IoT devices helping to monitor people’s health indicators may increase their popularity.
Cybersecurity is one of the vital technologies for organizations, especially whose business processes are based on data-driven technologies. Much more attention is being paid to privacy and data protection since the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDRP) has been signed and recently CCPA in California.
During COVID19 pandemic lock-down, when thousands of people are forced to work remotely, volumes of private data may become totally vulnerable or at least not protected in a proper way. This emerging challenge may give another incentive to the Implementation of cybersecurity practices. Cybercriminals took advantage of the fear factor of this virus to send their own viruses, there are many examples of such activities recently including fake domains of COVID19, phishing emails promising virus protection kits and even info about canceled summer Olympic games. In addition there is an increase in ransomware attacks on health institutions and even hacking of research centers to steal any info about possible vaccines of COVID19.
7. BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY
The COVID-19 crisis has revealed a general lack of connectivity and data exchange built into our global supply chains. Future resiliency will depend on building transparent, inter-operable and connective networks. If there were any lingering doubts over the value of blockchain platforms to improve the transparency of businesses that depend on the seamless integration of disparate networks, COVID-19 has all but wiped them away. We should look at this healthcare crisis as a vital learning curve that can show us how to build transparent, inter-operable and connective networks. Blockchain is supporting efforts around the globe to battle the virus as explained in the following list:
7.1. Tracking Infectious Disease Outbreaks
Blockchain can be used for tracking public health data surveillance, particularly for infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19. With increased blockchain transparency, it will result in more accurate reporting and efficient responses. Blockchain can help develop treatments swiftly as they would allow for rapid processing of data, thus enabling early detection of symptoms before they spread to the level of epidemics. Additionally, this will enable government agencies to keep track of the virus activity, of patients, suspected new cases, and more.
7.2. Donations Tracking
With the help of blockchain capabilities, donors can see where funds are most urgently required and can track their donations until they are provided with a verification that their contributions have been received to the victims. Blockchain would enable transparency for the general public to understand how their donations have been used and its progress.
7.3. Crisis Management
Blockchain could also manage crisis situations. It could instantly alert the public about the Coronavirus by global institutes like the World Health Organization (WHO) using smart contracts concept. Not only it can alert, but Blockchain could also enable governments to provide recommendations about how to contain the virus. It could offer a secure platform where all the concerned authorities such as governments, medical professionals, media, health organizations, media, and others can update each other about the situation and prevent it from worsening further without censorship.
7.4. Securing Medical Supply Chains
Blockchain has already proven its success stories as a supply chain management tool in various industries; similarly, Blockchain could also be beneficial in tracking and tracing medical supply chains. Blockchain-based platforms can be useful in reviewing, recording, and tracking of demand, supplies, and logistics of epidemic prevention materials. As supply chains involve multiple parties, the entire process of record and verification is tamper-proof by every party, while also allowing anyone to track the process.
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.
According to McKinsey, 57% of people view telehealth more favorably than before COVID-19 and 64% report that they are more comfortable using it. Especially in the US, with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) temporarily allowing more than 80 new services to be conducted via telehealth, consumers’ preferences for telehealth could become more deeply embedded into the care delivery system while the nation continues to social distance during this health emergency.
The report by McKinsey also states that by shifting this care to telehealth, the healthcare system will earn a lot more benefits, which allows its infrastructure to suffer less pressure than ever before:
- 20% of all emergency room visits could be avoided.
- 24% of health care office visits and outpatient volume could be delivered virtually and an additional 9% delivered “near-virtually.”
- 35% of regular home health attendant services could be virtualized.
- 2% of all outpatient volume could be shifted to the home setting, with tech-enabled medical administration.
9. CONTACTLESS PAYMENT
Cash might carry the virus, so central banks in many countries such as China, US and South Korea have implemented various measures to ensure banknotes are clean before they go into circulation. Now, contactless digital payments, either in the form of cards or e-wallets, are the recommended payment method to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Digital payments enable people to make online purchases and payments of goods, services and even utility payments, as well as to receive stimulus funds faster. This allows current banks and financial businesses to boost the frequency of use and earn more in revenue.
On another hand, according to the World Bank, there are more than 1.7 billion unbanked people, who may not have access to digital payments. This leaves a room for any late arrival who wishes to capture on the development of digital payment contributed by COVID-19.
10. ROBOTICS AND DRONES
COVID-19 makes the world realize how heavily we rely on human interactions to make things work. Labor-intensive businesses, such as retail, food, manufacturing and logistics are the worst hit.
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, and drones have walked dogs and delivered items.
“With virtually all proximity to other people now considered dangerous because of COVID-19 — and with businesses, institutions and governments looking to accomplish tasks in ways that minimize physically close human interaction – the use of robots and drones may increase.”
Therefore, among the confusion caused by the pandemic, the market for robotics is expected to grow up to 20% a year to total $2.8 billion by 2023, according to IDC research firm. It is also cited that the top use case for robots across non-manufacturing industries is security, with over 40% of all respondents indicating that they are using or planning to use robots for security; indicating that there is a bright future ahead for players in the security field to capitalize on robotics and automation.
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