How The Pandemic Has Shaped The Future Of Technology
The novel coronavirus has changed our way of life in many unexpected ways. Physical distancing, quarantine and the need for social interaction have boosted technology adoption in many sectors.
Today, the lockdowns have been lifted or relaxed in many countries, but the remnants of the pandemic are here to stay. The virus has pushed us to overcome barriers with technology. Below are some of the turns in technological advancements that affect our daily lives, work lives and education.
Technology In Our Homes
When the pandemic hit, almost every industry faltered. A few that have seen an increase in demand include healthcare, food, media and entertainment. As people have been spending most of their time at home, the gaming industry has also witnessed a huge uptick.
According to Admix, a platform that allows gamers to monetize their content, gameplay was expected to increase 20% during the lockdown. What’s more, Travis Scott held a concert on Fortnite, and Lady Gaga had one on Roblox, gathering millions of people — a testimony that gaming platforms are reaching new heights.
This trend is particularly true for younger generations. “Only 9 percent of younger generations named Facebook as their favorite social platform,” Samuel Huber, the CEO of Admix pointed out. “Instead, they spend more time interacting with 3D content such as games, whether it is to play or to communicate … Fortnite has become the MSN messenger of the new generation.”
The increased use of 3D content is felt everywhere. Virtual reality (VR) has seen increased use as companies have tried to fill the void of our social distance with VR meetings. This is a trend that might stay because some people prefer to work from home, whether it’s to be safe or because it makes them more productive.
Technology At Work
While companies or governmental bodies have been short on staff, customer and client demands have been at an all-time high. Call centers are particularly under pressure because people need support or want to learn about their loans or financial status. As a result, many tried chatbots for the first time.
While chatbots, or virtual assistants, can respond to queries most of the time, they are no replacement for humans. “At the end of the day when it gets complicated and you need assistance from a human being, you’ll go to a customer service representative anyway,” shared Raj Koneru, CEO of Kore.ai, a conversational AI company that develops virtual assistants. But that is exactly where chatbots help: Most customer queries are simple questions. Virtual assistants handle the bulk of those queries, allowing the staff to focus on more difficult tasks.
There are other benefits as well, one being the fact that VAs never rest and respond almost immediately, which is a huge convenience for people who would otherwise need to stay in a queue for hours.
Coronavirus has also brought new requirements, such as the increased need for worker safety — we need to reopen, but not at the cost of human lives. Businesses try to keep their doors open with less-crowded office spaces, regular sanitization and social distancing. One of the exciting ways technology has helped in this regard is with artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision.
Some contact tracing apps rely on Bluetooth technology to determine when they are in the proximity of another person, but that method is flawed. Computer vision does not rely on such devices; it functions as an always-present eye that can detect issues and alert people. Atollogy, a company that uses computer vision to optimize work efficiency and detect safety violations, made it so that its technology monitored for social distancing. With the aid of AI, the company system was able to tell if people were too close together or if a certain location was too crowded.
Atollogy is just one example of how companies are using their resources to combat the pandemic. Of course, it had to go an extra mile and add distance tracking to its algorithms, but this is a trend we should expect to see more of as we adapt to the new normal.
Technology In Training And Education
Another significant effect of Covid-19 is on our education, which has affected corporate training and education as well as children and schools. The need is similar everywhere: to stay away from crowds but continue to learn.
As mentioned earlier, the adoption of VR has increased, but its most notable effect is on education — people are better at remembering an interactive experience than something they read. VR offers an immersive experience that allows people to focus on training. When it comes to children and schools, VR offers a distraction-free environment where kids are safe from negative judgment by their peers.
There is one catch, though — VR requires a headset, and not everyone has one. One way to deal with this problem was demonstrated by education technology provider Veative Labs, which offers hundreds of STEM modules in VR. It made its content available over Web XR. The new platform enabled everyone with only a browser to consume its content. While it isn’t a fully immersive experience like you have with a headset, it is a great way to get content to those in need and enable students to keep learning from home.
Covid-19 has brought a lot of problems upon us, which we’ve tried to solve with technology. In some ways, the virus has also been an eye-opener. We’ve been forced to try new things, and now that we have, we may never go back to our old ways again.