Coronavirus hit the world in early 2020 with currently 28.6 million positive cases and 919,512 deaths worldwide. At the moment, the only possible solution humanity has is to control the spread by enforcing social distancing. Normal human life is currently limited to indoor activities only without overcrowding. Coronavirus has targeted various life aspects including business, education, social activities, and dining out. While medical science is trying its best to bring up with some treatment or vaccine against this coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), technology especially Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already playing its crucial role to maintain human life standards. In this article, we have discussed various technological breakthroughs that have helped humans adapting in such desperate times.
For a moment just imagine a life without technology. No electricity to lighten up our nights, No TV to entertain us, No medications to cure our diseases, No rapid transportation. As a modern generation, we may not be able to imagine passing a single day without the use of technology. Since the dawn of science and technology, humans have done miracles. Research and Development have been leading approach towards the prosperity of mankind. No doubt technology has been a huge part of our lives. It keeps on altering our ways of living with every passing day. Since the COVID-19 hit the globe, the role of technology has tremendously increased. Due to social distancing and other restrictions, daily work routine and living could have been very difficult. In such a situation, modern technology has played a vital role in various life aspects including business, work, education and social activities.
1) Business and Industry
How technology is helping the continuation of business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 outbreak has shattered the industry and businesses worldwide. Almost all the companies are expecting “depression” in the coming months. Since the world was not ready for this pandemic, sudden lockdown did not allow industrialists to do certain measures to keep their business running. The greater threat is if a human is called back to work, chances of viral spread become ten folds. The only possible solution to this crisis looks to be deploying technology into business replacing the human workforce. It is said, “Life is more important than money”. So keeping human health in mind, many businesses underwent operation transition.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, robotics and automation were considered a threat to the human workforce. Think tanks believed that more than 80% of jobs will be fully automated by 2030. However, when almost all the industry is ceased for the protection of human labor, it seems automation is the only solution for businesses getting out of the mothballing.
According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the robots are available at very low cost nowadays encouraging vast deployment. South Korea has seven robots per 100 workers and China has 33% of total robots working worldwide. A 2019 report by Oxford Economics postulated a prediction in 2019 that automation will capture 12.5 million manufacturing jobs in China by 2030. But since the coronavirus outbreak has splintered all of our rationales, industrialists are now thinking robotics as a blessing.
Automated manufacturing of medical supplies is the priority
Every industry is now focusing on maintaining the supply chain of medical accessories. The primary goal is to provide ventilators, gloves, facemasks, and safety suits for medical staff. JR Automation is fully equipped with automated processing units to manufacture medical supplies including essential protective equipment and medical devices, such as N95 masks, gowns, gloves, hospital beds, diagnostic testing kits, and devices. Besides, they also have food and perishable items packaging units without the involvement of a human worker to keep the food chain nourished.
Food supply is the second challenge during COVID-19 outbreak
Hunger is the second deadliest threat after coronavirus. Since the normal commodity chain has been disrupted, the need for automated food production is direly under consideration. Systems are required to minimize individual involvement and maximize the quantity and quality of food processing. Automated systems can promise less contamination and automated sterilization of the processing environment as well.
Foodini, a food 3-D printer, manufactured by Natural Machines, can be a hallmark of food automation in post COVID era. Foodini makes cooking more creative, faster, and healthier. You can print your food in dietitian prescribed portions and beautiful shapes. Though this technology has very limited scope yet, this may offer unlimited food designs, tastes, and nutritional ratios. If restaurants employ this technology, the consumer will be satisfied with the fact that no human hand was involved in food processing.
We all know that warehouses require manpower for stacking operations. Since coronavirus control requires minimal human interaction of a workspace, West Falia USA has offered a brilliant solution. West Falia is offering state-of-the-art automated warehouse control system. They help large companies maintain their warehouses with intelligent space management, organize inventory, optimize space, and increase efficiency in every aspect of their warehousing operations.
Oakhurst Dairy, Maine’s oldest producer of milk and dairy products needed to optimize its warehouse space. Instead of buying a new place, they decided to reach West Falia USA for warehouse management. Westfalia integrated Savanna.NET® and a custom round bottle caser into Oakhurst’s logistics solution.
B) Banking and Finance
Traditional banking requires a client to visit the branch by himself. A bank is another place where the public gathering is expected. During the COVID-19 pandemic, customers are scared of visiting the branch by themselves. This is where digital banking comes in. From a personal account to a corporate account, digital banking is providing all kinds of operations remotely. We have already mentioned in the previous article that Fintech companies are already prepared as well as operating for automated digital money processing.
During the pandemic, all the banks worldwide have announced free of charge online banking to help the consumers operate from home, and to minimize the public gathering. Internet banking, cryptocurrencies (bitcoin, etc), and mobile banking may offer a permanent solution for replacing the currency note (also a major vector for spreading the virus).
How Fintech can be a breakthrough during the pandemic and post-pandemic era?
Fintech (Financial Technology) is a new phenomenon that is used to describe innovation, automation, and improvements in financial services using the latest technology. Fintech is not more than a decade old and many companies have shown their desire to convert their financial customs into new Fintech remedies.
Besides seeking new horizons for business, fintech is destined to automate financial transactions using artificial intelligence and hardware technology that may include processing power (PC), cloud computing, or even smartphones with the proper software installed.
The biggest area of fintech is to replace typical paper money with digital currency to ease and sharpen the flow of money among companies and clients. This may include cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, AGI tokens, Monero, and other blockchain credits.
FIntech is also facing challenging downfall like other businesses due to coronavirus outbreak. Most of the fintech adapting companies are in their infancy and are likely to be shut own very soon. In this era, fintech has to maintain its reliability as well as reputation by incorporating new ideas and perspectives that give the industry new hope.
The very first thing fintech has to do is to create trust between investors and stockholders. This could only happen if fintech companies can assure the clients for better ROI. What fintech can do is support the automation of business and industry. Firms are seeking organizations that are converting from manual to automatic production and processing of the material. Since due to lockdown, many manual industries are halted, the robotic industry can be potential heaven.
Currency notes have been a major carrier for coronavirus. Many countries have announced free online payment transfer to stop the viral spread. Crypto and digital currencies now can easily replace the paper money, opening a completely new era of smart finance.
2) Online Education
The very first line of defense was the decision to close all educational institutes where mostly the young generation gathers and fulfills their need for learning. Despite a few businesses are allowed to be operation fortnightly, educational institutes would remain close for a longer period. Thanks to modern technology which created an opportunity to learn from home. All the schools and universities are delivering lectures online using various online communication software.
Learning Management System (LMS) and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) both have been implemented for online education. So far, the best online learning platforms according to their functionality are:
- Google Classroom
- SAP Litmos
- Adobe Captivate
- Articulate 360
- Shift LMS
- Lectora Inspire
- Blackboard Learn
These platforms offer interactive sessions, online office suite functionality like word, spreadsheet and presentation slides, cloud storage for study material storage, and scheduling. Some platforms also offer assignment submission functionality as well as the grading system.
Besides these platforms, online education courses have been previously provided through video lectures. Coursera, Edex, Edureka, Lynda, Udemy, MIT Open Courseware are the top examples of e-learning courses. These courses are available online at your own desired pace. After the completion of a course, an optional paid certificate is also issued by the concerned institute. All of these institutes uplifted their charges for many courses during the pandemic to enhance the learning to the grass-root level.
3) Online Shopping
Purchasing desired items like shoes, dresses, or gadgets cannot be avoided by a human. Even in this life-threatening plague, people wish for new arrivals yet they cannot go out shopping. Technology has granted the human with the luxury of online shopping that their desired products arrive at their doorstep. Since the emergence of the public internet, online shopping has been replacing conventional shopping gradually.
In such desperate times when going out can be lethal, the trend of online shopping has risen. World’s biggest online stores like Amazon, Aliexpress, and eBay, Walmart, and Etsy are ahead in serving humanity in this crucial time.
All of these online stores have their special smartphone app that makes choice, comparisons, and ordering very easy. During the pandemic, these online stores have opened thousands of new job opportunities to deliver the products at the consumer’s doorstep. These firms have made sure the safety of their employees by providing them all kinds of safety equipment.
Without the internet and smartphone technology, that shift was not possible. Previously, you had to go to the shopping mall or market by yourself or see the product and confirm the rates. Thanks to online ratings and reviews that make the selection very easy and confident.
Through online shopping, you can order anything you need from food items to groceries and from medicine to fashion and beauty products. All are listed on the product list. You just have to select the product, check the rating and reviews and place the order. Paying cash is not a problem anymore. Again thanks to online banking!!!!
4) Working from home
Working from home was considered the fate of freelancers only. But due to coronavirus pandemic, many companies have forced their employees to work from home remotely. It must be kept in mind that not all of the employees have the luxury to work at home. Fieldmen, supply men, those who are involved in sales, or those related to manufacturing, all have to be present at the spot. But those working at computers like programmers, financial assistants and CSRs are staying at home and working remotely.
The latest technology has enabled us to connect remotely just like real life (only limitation we cannot shake hands). Online working environments are established using software and hardware support to carry out certain functions like seminars, conferences, progress reporting, and data submission.
Gartner is a research and advisory company specialized in providing business solutions to clients. They have surveyed working from home. Many CFOs were questioned about how they felt to keep their employees working from home. Their answers were quite expected. They all believed that 20% of their staff members can work from home remotely. This will save the on-premises costs, operational costs, and real estate expenditures. After the COVID-19 pandemic is over, this practice may be continued for longer-term to save the cost and increase ROI.
Software technology is not staying back even in online working. We have come across many platforms that are offering an online working environment. Let’s have a glimpse of these tools
A) Online Conferencing
Public gatherings are not allowed during the pandemic, so executives have to establish a meeting online. So far the top trending conference software is Zoom and skype that are free to use. Another option is Oovoo which is better than Skype but it is paid. Skype can harbor 9 participants with one host at a time. They all can see and hear each other. A periodic muting option is also available. Zoom has become the master of all. You will be surprised to know that Zoom can harbor up to 49 participants and 1 host. That will be the whole classroom or a whole office.
B) Remote Desktop Assistance
For technical support, several tools offer remote desktop assistance. A technical person can connect to another employee’s computer to operate the screen remotely either to install a new program, troubleshoot any PC problem, or to check the connectivity. Team Viewer, ShowMyPC, Mikogo, GoToMeeting, and WebEx are the best examples of remote desktop assistance tools.
C) Collaboration Software
Team collaboration is the core of any working environment. The need for a collaboration software cannot be ignored for maintaining perfect workflow. Some softwares offer team collaboration environment. Project management tools like Basecamp, Wrike, and iMeet Central provide all necessary equipment for office operations like message boards, To-Dos, group chat, scheduling, file sharing, and project activity.
Time Doctor is another member among office environment suites or perhaps the most crucial one. It tracks the attendance, punctuality, and workflow records of employees. It has its working clock and additional recording functionality that saved screenshot and screen recording to have proof of employees’ performance.
5) Social Media
It is forbidden to gather around and party during coronavirus pandemic. But technology is a miracle that has enabled the people to meet each other online minimizing the distance constraints. The role of social media during the COVID-19 outbreak has been observed more crucial than ever before. Facebook is at the top of all social media platforms regarding entertainment and information. On the other hand, all social media platforms are working hard to eliminate any falsified information regarding COVID-19, as many bloggers and users try to get more traffic by spreading alarming false content.
Along with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Youtube, and TikTok has been the top trending social media and entertainment platforms. According to Flixed’s report, the use of social media during COVID has been doubled than the pre-COVID-19 era. All social media platforms are trying their best to keep people busy while staying at home and keeping the social distance.
COVID-19 pandemic would be more painful and dramatic if digital entertainment has not been provided. Closure of cinemas has put a gap between people and entertainment. Digital entertainment is the most viable line of defense against COVID-19 spread, assuring the people stay at home and keep themselves busy in entertainment and online fun.
Human is a social animal and you cannot keep him locked down for so long. We all need something to keep ourselves busy, and since working has been disturbed tremendously, the only attraction left are movie, TV shows, music, and vlogging.
A) Video Streaming
Youtube is the top video sharing site promising both the quality entertainment as well as education and training. Lectures, sitcoms, music videos, and gaming walkthroughs are the top trend in youtube.
As far as movies and TV shows are concerned, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, HBO Now, and HULU are perfect apps to have on your smartphone or PC. To keep people at home, all these platforms have offered longer free subscriptions for those who cannot afford a paid one.
For the Muslim world, Turkish TV serial Diriliş: Ertuğrul has been the top trend during the lockdown. I have met personally with many people who started watching this TV show. They all exclaimed that once they started this show, they could not leave it without finishing it.
Money Heist is without any doubt has been the top trend in Netflix as well as social media, as many memes have been posted showing The Professor (Álvaro Morte).
Gaming is a passion not restricted by age. People of all ages play games either on smartphones, PCs, Xbox, or Playstation. You can get bored of a TV show or a movie but you never get bored of a game.
You can play a mission-based game offline or complete a mission with your friends online. As far as online gaming is concerned, Player’s Unknown Battle Ground (PUBG) has been the top trend during this pandemic. In this game, 100 players jump into a limited area with a team of 4 players, searching for weapons and killing each other. Fortnite is also similar gameplay and it is the USA’s most wanted online game. Ludo Star is another uprising trend during coronavirus outbreak but this game is more trending in the Middle East and Subcontinent.
Microsoft has launched a fundraising campaign for Xbox users. Each Xbox user will earn credit just by playing games and these credits will be donated to agencies that are fighting against coronavirus. This strategy will help tow ways,
- Keeping people at home
- Funding the corona fighters.
Science and technology are constantly serving humans in uncountable ways. Even in the time of the pandemic, technology is helping in many ways, not only in medical research but also in social and economic aspects. This article was purposed to put some light on the social aspects of human life. How technology and AI are helping fight against coronavirus, you must follow our article. AI is helping in combating COVID-19.