COVID-19 will go down in history books not only as the biggest health and economic crisis but also as a motivation for digitization in fields ranging from manufacturing to healthcare. While the pandemic is creating untold suffering, it has also created a more stimulating environment for change and innovation more than economically stable times.
The pandemic has prompted a collaborative and interconnective response, with people uniting at a global scale to seek new solutions to ease the tough times. As such, startups and tech enthusiasts have been working hard to make their name amidst the Corona-ridden world and incumbents exploring new opportunities.
Many new technological solutions have been emerging or gaining more prominence. The solutions fall into the categories of detection and containment, the tech that tackles problems involving health care providers, and tech for economic resilience.
From pay and go technologies, digital signage, QR Codes, Telecommunication, work from home, AI COVID-19 detection, these innovative techs are providing a glimmer of hope at a time the world is grappling with fears and anxiety brought on by the pandemic. We have handpicked some interesting innovative solutions from startups inspired by the pandemic, a vivid manifestation of the power of innovation at a time plagued by ambiguity and uncertainty.
The COVID-19 pandemic hampered communication in many ways, from the mandatory face masks, which caused a problem for deaf people because they could not lip read to the work- from -home initiative, which forced people to rack up their phone, and internet bills. Innovators had to find swift solutions to make communication easier and more efficient during the pandemic.
One brilliantly simple innovation inspired by the pandemic was the clear face mask. These masks are designed with a clear plastic window over the mouth to make it possible to lip-read.
The other communication innovations mainly happened in the field of robotics. Some innovators from Tokyo, Japan created a humanoid robot dubbed as “Pepper” to assist in front office management at a hotel catering for patients who have mild coronavirus symptoms. The robot typically greets patients as they arrive- making them feel welcome but also frees up and protects the staff from possible infection.
Some other innovative solutions in communication come in the form of AI-Enhanced Video conferencing. Krisp software is a good example of next-generation video conferencing capabilities. It features AI-based technologies and a fresh new perspective on the video user interface. This software uses AI-based noise filters, which allow you to comfortably video conference without any background, or common noises. During the lock-down period, Krisp even introduced a Chrome extension to make video conferencing easier.
Though somewhat controversial due to security concerns, the German Federal Government created the Corona-Warn app. The app is designed to track whether you have had any contact with an infected person. The Apps technical background was made in cooperation with Apple and Google. Corona-Warn basically uses Bluetooth technology to assess whether phone users have crossed paths so that if someone you have been close to in the past few days tests positive, you get a push message about the infected person.
Some innovators even came up with a communication platform that brings together communities who have specific needs. Named the Colivey platform, it brings together people with similar needs such as picking up medication or grocery shopping. The platform’s algorithm also allows the users to see the most efficient supply routes for the volunteer delivery drivers.
Learning institutions were the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Students were greatly affected by the change in the school calendar as different governments encouraged people to stay at home. As such, innovators had to come up with solutions to help students learn while they were at home.
One such solution was the Kisomo Smart learn app. It is the first video-based digital learning app with content curated for East African children who cannot visit schools due to the pandemic. This service allows children to self-study by providing online curated, locally relevant educational content.
This learning app is even designed to enhance the learning experience further by producing content with the latest audio technologies and visualizations such as 3D/2D animations and HD videos.
Over the last year, people have been enlisting robots to help with the deliveries of goods. They are especially popular in the food delivery industry. A good example is an AI-powered safe and scalable goods delivery by Refraction AI. The robotic platform provides safe and scalable deliveries in major cities.
The REV-1 robot can carry a variety of goods delivering to customers with minimal contact from the delivery staff. This bot can operate on both bike and car lanes, meaning it can deliver goods in any weather condition. Another Columbian startup named “Rappi” has also been rolling out its boxy-wheeled delivery robots in huge numbers during the pandemic period.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented demand for digital health technology solutions. Many governments and organizations have allocated vast resources to finding technological innovations to assist in the prevention and early detection of the virus.
PathSpot is one such company that has come up with a handwashing fact-checker. The PathSpot scanner fact checks one’s handwashing efficiency. You only need to place your hand on the hygiene machine and it immediately outputs feedback on the screen. It enables people to keep track of their handwashing habits and suggest improvements. The technology would work best in the hotel and restaurant business.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for governments to focus more on elevating technology science and innovation. Now more than ever we need more innovative solutions to help cope with the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more than that, we need new technology that serves both strategic and development ends- a focal point on science technology, and innovation.
If organizations, and businesses invest in infrastructural, human, and technological capacity, they can reinvigorate their economy, create new business opportunities, skill, and up-skill, and re-skill their people to play an even bigger role in the post-COVID-19 technologically powered economy.
For other COVID-19 related resources, check out our COVID-19 Category on the blog, and let us know your thoughts.