Technology is a driving force for human civilization to progress and improve, its development has made life inseparable from it. Today, society is experiencing an integration of daily life and technology. Especially during the pandemic, technologies have helped to reduce the spread of the virus by replacing direct human contact with robots or remote communications. These new adjustments causing more frequent usage of these technologies will have a long-lasting effect across all industries beyond COVID-19 and in human history.
Three new technology trends have recently emerged and, during the pandemic, have certainly demonstrated their utility in the oncoming future.
COVID-19 can be spread by getting in contact with an infected person’s droplets and airborne particles through talking, sneezing, and coughing. In order to reduce the spread of the virus, malls and stores are forced to close, leaving E-Commerce the only option for shoppers. To continue the operation, many businesses transited online in spite of the contact restrictions. The benefit of shopping online is that customers gain easier access to various products while keeping them safe at home.
The largest retail store in the United States, Walmart, has invested in online shopping. On their APP and website, pictures of products are neatly present for customers to browse through and it’s easy to navigate to the product wanted. After adding the items needed to the cart, the customers have two options: pick-up or delivery, and both options can be contactless.
Since February, Walmart has offered grocery pickup at 3,450 locations and same-day delivery at 2,730 stores. With the same products and services, customers have the continued experience of shopping online and taking a trip to the physical store, now even quicker and easier.
The amount of money spent through online shopping in 2020 is 190.75% more than in 2019. It is predictable that with the tech trend and increasing demands of the customer, e-commerce will become the new norm of shopping for the next 5 years.
- Face Mask Vending Machine
Face masks have become a necessity because of COVID-19 as it is a mandatory policy in certain public areas and around people from different households. Human contact is unavoidable while purchasing face masks from drugstores and pharmacies. But with a face mask vending machine, the transaction is free of human contact.
So far, face mask vending machines in the United States have been provided by a New York-based company RapidMask2GO and Keen. In case of an emergency need of face mask, a vending machine can be easily found in every corner of a city. Moreover, because there is no zoning permit required for a vending machine, accessibility is even less of a problem.
Machines like the RapidMask2Go are now offering KN95 masks for $3 apiece, payment methods include credit cards, contactless payment, and cash.
A company called Digital Media Vending International has developed a hand sanitizer vending machine. The hand sanitizer is presented as advanced technology, with a 5-in-1 wall-mounted dispenser and a built-in 7? touchscreen for customers to select the service needed. Along with its elegant outlook, DMVI is aiming to be installed at the lobby, restrooms, entrance, cafeteria, or high-traffic areas for people to clean off impurities and germs before they are indoor.
The face mask and hand sanitizer vending machines are examples of how existing technology is improving and advancing to make daily life better and safer during the pandemic.
- Contactless Delivery/Self-Driving Vehicles
As online shopping continues to surge, the demand for delivery services also increases. But the traditional method of delivery is still risky and can’t be 100% contactless. That is when the delivery robots enter the market.
Starship, a technology development company, has launched their new product, the Self-Driving Delivery Robot, designed to carry 20 pounds, travel up to 4 miles round-trip and provide a safe, low-cost, and, more importantly, contactless delivery for the customer.
“The demand for contactless delivery at an affordable price has permanently increased,” said Senior Director of Business Development at Starship Technologies, Ryan Tuohy told progressive Grocer, “Until today, the robots have completed about 500,000 autonomous deliveries. With artificial intelligence, highly sensitive sensors, and a team of humans looking through the monitor, we have provided a safe, convenient, and well-priced delivery option for tens of thousands of residents.”
To date, other tech companies are also developing similar products to meet the large demands of grocery, food, essential needs, and luxury goods. A company such as Nuro in Texas had introduced golf cart-size vehicles to deliver items from Kroger and CVS.
The advancement of technology to meet the need for material goods is not simply a solution to the increasing demand, it also boosts the economy by reducing customers’ fear and making them more willing to spend money. Soon, the self-driving delivery robots will be seen on the sidewalks.
Although COVID-19 had brought much suffering and harm to society on the other side, it sped the adoption of technologies by several years. Many businesses are surviving under the pandemic, with the help of technology, so the economy hasn’t crashed completely. Also, technology has been making life easier, better, and safer under the threat of COVID-19. More integration of daily life and technology will be common to the society and these changes might be lasting permanently.
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