Technologies that have been jump-started by COVID-19

The economy is suffering, but some technology businesses, such as telemedicine, contactless payment, 3D printing and e-paper document have taken-off.

While other, which are already big, like e-commerce or videoconferencing have seen enormous growth.

3D-printing landscape after COVID-19

In the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, 3D printing has stepped up to become a vital technology to support improved healthcare and our general response to the emergency. The crisis has highlighted how 3D printing can be at the base of a greener and more environmentally friendly future. 3D printing, thanks to the possibility to produce parts on demand, can reduce waste and inventory. Its inherent flexibility and the possibility to modify designs available online are unleashing creative and sustainable solutions that can carry the technology forward in the ‘new normal’.

Supply chains are expected to be shorter and more fragmented as the global economy reopens. These changes will result in different manufacturing procedures with more partnerships in an open additive-manufacturing ecosystem. The main attributes of 3D printing — a high level of customization for specific needs and decentralized manufacturing — are likely to bring about local microgrids of 3D-printing factories. Digitization will continue to transform 3D-printing machines into key parts of the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 environments in the post-pandemic, cyber-physical age.

Paying for Stuff in a Post-COVID World

In early March, the World Health Organization warned that banknotes may be capable of carrying and spreading the novel coronavirus. Although the jury is still out on just how likely it is to catch COVID-19 by touching surfaces or objects, brick-and-mortar businesses and bank branches are likely to want to minimize the risk of infecting customers, however minuscule it may be.

On its banking blog, Accenture listed “a strong push toward a cashless society” as the No. 1 potential long-term impact that the pandemic may have on global payments processes. MasterCard polled 17,000 consumers in 19 countries and found that they perceive contactless payments as “the cleaner way to pay.”

If these predictions and sentiments manifest, bank customers can expect a very different transaction experience going forward. For one thing, they may spend less time waiting in lines, as contactless payments lend themselves to speedier transactions. While the transaction time for a chip-enabled card can be as much as 30 to 45 seconds, a contactless transaction can reduce that to as little as 10 to 15 seconds.

From tap-to-pay debit transactions to no-touch ways to pay for public transit, the current landscape is fertile ground for contactless technology to take off.

Uses of Telehealth during COVID-19
  • Contact tracing

    Telehealth, especially via phone, can be used to interview patients with COVID-19 to determine who they were in contact with during the time they were potentially infectious, and to follow-up with their contacts to inform them of the need to quarantine, assess whether they have any symptoms, and tell them what to do if symptoms develop.

  • Monitoring COVID-19 symptoms

    Patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms can often isolate and be monitored at home to avoid overcrowding in healthcare facilities and save hospital beds for more severe cases. Using telehealth technology such as phones or apps, healthcare providers can check in with patients frequently to monitor their condition, provide advice, and determine if the patient’s condition is deteriorating and they need to be evaluated for in-person care, such as hospitalization.

  • Providing specialized care for hospitalized patients with COVID-19

    Patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19 may require care from a diverse team (e.g., nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians). One member of the team can enter the patient’s room and consult with the rest of the team using telehealth technology (tablets, phones) to assess the condition of the patient, adjust respiratory and other therapy, adjust the treatment plan, and manage complications.In addition, health facilities can use telehealth to consult with physicians who have specialized training or expertise in respiratory infections like COVID-19. Tele-intensive care unit platforms, which consist of real-time audio, visual, and electronic connections between remote critical care teams (intensivists and critical care nurses) and patients in distant ICUs, can also be used to monitor critically ill patients and provide expert guidance for care. Tele-radiology can also be used to consult with radiologists at remote locations.Telehealth can also be used to provide online training on COVID-19 for medical professionals and healthcare workers.

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 rollout 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.

    While there are some reports that predict many manufacturing jobs will be replaced by robots in the future, at the same time, new jobs will be created in the process. Policies must be in place to provide sufficient training and social welfare to the labour force to embrace the change.