Everybody, each business and many nations are losing something during the coronavirus pandemic. But there are a few bright spots for those in the technology sphere, helping show how people and technology can work together, provide support and keep people smiling through some very tough times.
Travel bans, no socializing and a wipeout across sports and entertainment are just some of the impacts around the world for those suffering or impacted by the coronavirus. And while most companies are trying to minimise the damage, a few are making headway, even as global stock prices dive.
While all eyes should be on the human cost and medical response, some digital heroes are rightly being recognised as helping us through this latest mess.
E-Sports for the win
As the traditional sports calendar gets massacred, with no team sports, motorsports and even events like golf and horse racing being impacted, people are looking at new ways to enjoy watching a challenge, gaming or get their gambling fix.
E-sports fits the bill nicely with simulated motor racing, FIFA soccer, battle and combat games like the new Call of Duty and traditional esports fare like fighting games, card battlers and even hybrid events like drone racing. League of Legends, Pokemon, Fortnite and many more are still rolling, even as esports shows might be canceling the big arena events that pack-in thousands of fans, they can keep going through streaming play to entertain the masses.
These sports have been growing strongly for a good few years now, but with limited alternatives more and more people will find them on the TV or being webcast over streaming services. That should give e-sports a great boost with anew audience, as they find it as a way to see inspired moves, pitch battles and other competitive matchups, with levels of competition, tactics and outright violence that you never get to see in real sports (expect Ice Hockey perhaps).
Streaming TV services
“Netflix and fever” might not be a slogan anyone would pick, but it helps encapsulate the options for those either self-isolating, cooped up or working from home. With Disney+ launching in Europe this month, Amazon Prime, Apple+ and Netflix all throwing new shows at the screen, there is plenty to watch or catch up on.
However, with film and TV set work grinding to a halt, how long can they keep people entertained as the prognosis heads from weeks to months? Just how many times can someone watch Breaking Bad all the way through, or Black Mirror or The Crown? With so much choice, people might hop from one subscription to the next for a fresh supply of entertainment, but there’s only upside for subscriber numbers with a global captive audience and no sport on regular TV, and mostly bad news on the other channels.
Chatbot and AI builders
With strong messages to put out and medical professionals needing to use every second of their time, chatbots are putting in a strong showing during the pandemic. New bots are being launched weekly by governments, medical care services and companies to help provide advice, calm fears or tell people what to do.
Many companies are launching easy-to-deploy bots to limit other types of interaction and to help keep staff or customers informed of changes in business hours, service and other updates. Bots are also increasingly used in sales, retention and customer services to help broaden levels of engagement. And they are playing a key role in keeping education services going, and helping beleagured airlines and other transport sector businesses keep their passengers informed.
AI bots can offer a broader range of advice or services than their scripted cousins, and in the wider world of AI, it is being used to help battle the virus and find a possible cure. AI’s place in society will grow fast in the post-virus era, and it should be noted that an AI was the first to spot the wider spread of the Covid-19, something that could help future medical planners, as these outbreaks become more common.
Remote meeting tools
With conferences, trade events, symposia and other gatherings being obliterated from the business, marketing and expo calendar, executives are looking to remote tools as a way to get some of their content, keynotes and presentations over.
Most businesses already have Microsoft Teams, dedicated virtual meeting hardware or other solutions in their offices, but the arrival of Covid-19 is seeing lots of other companies rushing to deploy meeting tools to keep in touch with new clients, customers, prospects and industry peers to keep their businesses rolling.
And now many workers are getting a taste of work from home, expect the remote-working landscape to alter drastically into the future as traditional and expensive business operating assumptions come into question.
Drones on the rise
Drones are often viewed as either military toys or big boys toys, but their use to deliver medicines in China, to disinfect places, safely provide food and essential supplies shows they can be a key tool in any crisis.
Some drones help provide mobile network signals in disaster areas, others can search for lost or trapped people, all making the drones a key part of any response to a future crisis.
And, even if it is just bringing pizza to those in isolation, there is plenty of mileage in drones helping out in all sorts of situations, and reducing the reliance on crazed moped riders squeezing in and out of gaps when traffic systems do get back to normal.
Among the darkness and gloom of recent weeks and the months to come, technology is helping turn the battle in the fight against this virus. In many battles to come AI and smart technology will lead people to make better decisions and hopefully eliminate the need to risk huge numbers of lives, and while they won’t get the recognition compared to the very real sacrifices of medical personnel, do spare a little kudos for our digital services and robotic friends in the time to come.
Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.