Everyone looks at technology from a different angle. An engineer looks at it as an enabler; a businessman likes to think of it as a solution, an army officer wants to use it for protection, whereas a criminal uses it to have his way with the society. In a nutshell, technology is neutral; and very useful for everyone.
The simplest example of technology being useful is the invention of the telephone. Even the most primitive phone, the one invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, reduced the time lead time. If you remember using a device to make phone calls which had a moving circle with numbers on it or climbed up on the terrace or balcony to adjust a TV antenna, then you are probably my age! Since then, its been a long journey. We have removed much clutter from the telephone, improved and enhanced the quality of transmission via digital setup boxes and even automated it to do many things to reduce the effort and lead time even more.
However, in my opinion, mobile has been truly revolutionized, not with the invention of smartphones; but when the smartphones were made affordable. Today’s smartphones are doorway to the world of knowledge, entertainment, food delivery, education, business continuity, medical referencing, dating, ticketing, travel booking, and numerous other things. So, when technology has become part and parcel of our lives, ironically replacing many parcels, wouldn’t it be challenging to live without it?
It is a moot question now. Technology has penetrated deeply into our lives. We use it daily, and with the current pandemic crisis has proved that life without technology is no longer possible. We moved away from traditional living a long time back, and COVID-19, well, it just forced us to fast forward and move towards digital life even faster.
Transformation of Healthcare and Medtech Industry
Today there has been a noticeable transformation in the Healthcare sector from traditional methods to virtual care provision due to technological advancement. Online consultations, remote monitoring of post-surgical patients, higher healthcare services pharmacy in the retail stores, health advice through virtual face-to-face calls are becoming more acceptable norms. These changes are inevitable, and the COVID-19 situation has propelled these transformations at must faster rate. The future of medical science looks even brighter as techs like precision medicine, robotic surgery, and 3-D printing of organs gains shape and become viable.
However, lot more work need to be done the medical sphere, as we have not been able to find vaccine for the coronavirus as yet. Various Medtech startups and Duke -NUS Medical School have been tirelessly working on the finding solutions like Antibody Testing, Swab Testing to treat COVID-19 virus. Duke-NUS medical School has also partnered with Arcturus Therapeutics to manufacture mRNA-based vaccine. Also, Contact tracing Apps – Tracetogether has been introduced by Singapore Government for tracing the infected individuals in Singapore, deployed four-legged spot robots in parks to check and remind visitors to maintain social distancing. The authorities will have to look into global supply chain of the personal protection equipments, ventilators which has been disrupted by the outbreak. The Medtech industry need to be far more prepared in terms of transparency, more efficiency and open to digital solutions for the future in case of another outbreak.
Advent of Home Based Learning
Technology has also found its way into education. The use of virtual classrooms enabled the students to attend lectures by experts from around the world. Not only on the elementary or high school level, but technology is being deployed heavily in colleges, universities, and research labs. A.I. allows scholars and scientists to predict and run simulations of unimaginable proportions in a highly safe environment. Technology not only helps pupils, but it also aids teachers in reviewing and analyzing the performance of their students. The technology also uncovers aspects like the psychology of a student, that the traditional methods usually fail to highlight. The future of education will include even more use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. However with the outbreak of pandemic has complelled the authorities to consider home based learning as a long term solution.
Touchless and Digital Travel
Covid-19 has upended the world’s Tourism sector, Travel companies, and Aviation industry. Due to travel restrictions and closed borders, 90% of the world’s populations are barred from any movement outside their respective country and brought the entire world to a complete standstill. Will the world travel again? Will digital technology bring about any transformation that will define future travel?
The key areas that will shape our movement are Touchless travel and Digital Health Passport. The introduction of complete automation will become a paramount and new norm while traveling. For identity verification, touchless fingerprint, face recognition, contactless document scanning, and voice commands will come into play. Airports will install thermal imaging cameras and temperature sensors as permanent fixtures for passengers’ virtual health screening as new measures.
To reopen the borders and to remove travel restrictions, health protocols will be set and will include sanitization, health screening, and face masks. Using digital technology for travel will be the utmost requirement. Big Tech companies like Google and Apple are in the process of developing contact tracing apps. Digital health passports will come into play where the airline companies will gather personal information about the passenger in terms of their age, health conditions, and travel history to define the passengers’ risk profile. Travel will be redefined entirely in times to come.
Technology at Work
Life at work is way more influenced by technology when compared to life at home. If we depart from the generalized picture of technology and dive into the specifics, there is no line of work that has not been impacted by technology. Large industrial sectors like power, automobile, steel, construction, warfare, space, and others have been able to grow because of the robotics and mechanical technology that powers the machines. And now, smaller and more different sectors like education, healthcare, tourism, food, entertainment are undergoing a paradigm shift in their way of working. The fact that Big Tech has emerged as a winner in the current pandemic situation is proof that technology companies can make a difference.
Coronavirus has made us shift to using technology in several categories of work. For example, the world’s fastest supercomputer is getting used for medical purposes for the first time. Companies that were once shy of the concept of work from home adopted it and made it a norm in a matter of days. Manufacturing industries shifted more than just gears and went from producing cars and other things to producing masks, ventilators, and PPEs for the world. P2P data transfer, more popularly known as torrent-ing, is being used for sharing scientific research data on coronavirus among the scientists. It is the speed of change and flexibility that we must be expecting in the coming years at the workplace. Several companies have already started considering adopting remote working as a usual norm. Not just the big companies, but even the smaller companies, the SME sector is hailing the move since it saves space and expenditure on maintaining the workplace. Working models have already been in the market in the form of companies like Fiverr, a gig-marketplace, GitLab, a software developer, and Automatic, owner of the blogging platform – WordPress.
Technology has become a big part of our lives in response to pandemic. Even, WHO is collaborating with Big tech organizations like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and others to create projects using technology to transform industries like Entertainment, Health, Education and the community as a whole.
COVID-19 has indeed changed the way we live. And only time will tell if we can or if we want to go back to the way things were, as we dont want to be struck again by another pandenic.