Today’s challenges are a strong reminder of the proverb, “necessity is the mother of invention.” Many things have changed since the last financial crisis a decade ago, but lives are being impacted even more significantly today.
As the world comes together to combat the crisis, it’s only a matter of time before new innovations in technology emerge.
Here are 5 areas to watch for tech innovations in the coming months:
1. Easy tests and effective masks
BioTech, HealthTech startups around the world are working on developing easier, quicker tests and effective masks to identify and prevent the spreading of COVID-19. Veredus Laboratories in Singapore has said the company will soon release a “Lab-on-Chip” detection kit that can be purchased commercially. It will allow patients to be tested for three kinds of coronavirus within two hours.
Two Israeli startups, Sonovia and Argaman, are working on washable, reusable masks embedded with antiviral and antibacterial agents that could prove more effective than disposable masks.
2. Using AI for faster communication and to eliminate misinformation
While AI has been incredibly helpful in studying population density, demographics and travel patterns to help researchers to decide where to send supplies or how to mitigate an outbreak, new innovations are focusing on how to use the technology to eliminate misinformation. Social tech giants Facebook, Google and Twitter have been scrambling, but are working on using technology to offer factchecks.
BlueDot, a Canadian company has developed an early-warning system, which uses artificial intelligence, including natural-language processing and machine learning, to track over 100 infectious diseases by analyzing about 100,000 articles in 65 languages every day.
3. Using drones to deliver goods in quarantined areas
The time may have finally come for delivering goods with drones. The World Economic Forum has published a blog post highlighting the contributions that drones have made in the fight against COVID-19. “3 Ways China is Using Drones to Fight Coronavirus” brings out the contributions made by drone delivery in an environment where limiting human-to-human contact is of paramount importance.
In China, drone delivery company JD worked with government stakeholders to dramatically increase service areas to bring supplies to quarantined and isolated areas.
4. Using Genome Sequencing for faster analysis
When SARS first broke out in late 2002, it took scientists more than a year to sequence the genome of the virus. This time around, the genome of COVID-19 was sequenced in less than a month after the first case was identified. Innovations in this area will help us deliver insights into how the virus is transmitted and how it evolves.
The UK has created COVID-19 genome sequencing alliance for large scale analysis of the virus.
5. Using robotics to kills germs and treat people
The growing possibilities of telemedicine, combined with robotics, will help patients get the care they need, without putting doctors at risk. In the U.S., one patient in Washington state is being treated for the coronavirus by a robot named Vici, through which he communicates with his care team. In China, a robot named Little Peanut transports food to patients quarantined in a hotel.
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