2020 has already given us a lot that we weren’t prepared for.
But as the year continues to throw us the unexpected, we've seen businesses from all industries (and particularly tech) come up with innovative ways to address the new world we’re in.
Right now, tech giants Apple and Google are the ones to watch, as they work together to deliver a contact tracing system. The solution will be platform agnostic, meaning that iPhone and Android devices will be able to communicate with one another — one of the first collaborations of its kind, and a shining example of how mobile tech can help overcome today’s challenges.
Looking a little further ahead, though, here’s how we predict mobile tech will continue to adapt, and shape, how we live post-COVID:
VR and AR have been around in theory since the cyberpunk craze of the 1970s and 1980s. But in the last decade, the pace has really picked up, with virtual and augmented reality made more accessible to the mainstream public.
That being said, VR and AR has had a hard time finding its footing; primarily used in video games and a handful of other applications, such as viewing a 3D model of a product before purchasing it.
In other words: the tech has mostly been restricted to novelty use cases.
But with people spending more time inside, could this soon change? As work-from-home becomes more widely adopted, and people leave their homes less and less, VR and AR can add depth and variety to our four walls — allowing people to travel to other places, without going anywhere.
For businesses suffering during the aftermath of COVID-19, turning their attention to this tech may be a golden ticket. Bathroom showrooms, car dealerships, open houses and other ‘big ticket’ retail spaces could all be brought to life through VR or AR, for example.
One of the biggest — if not the biggest — change to our society as a result of COVID-19 is the restriction of social contact. Whether you're going to the grocery store or just wanting to have a conversation with your friends, once simple activities have now been altered by the pandemic.
In place of what we'll call "traditional social interactions," we're seeing a sharp increase in contact-free servicing. Apps like DoorDash and GrubHub have become more popular than ever, and many shipping companies now exclusively leave packages at doors — not wanting to interact with homeowners when delivering a package.
Post-COVID-19, we could see these types of services continue to thrive as people become more accustomed to contactless interactions. Amazon might finally make the push to adopt delivery drones, while Lyft may start rolling out the option of self-driving vehicles — removing the risk of infection for both rider and driver.
Overwhelming the healthcare system is an on-going global concern. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and ER rooms are seriously stretched — not just by coronavirus cases, but by regular patients who are caught in the midst.
In the future, more abundant and robust in-home health monitoring tools could be put into place to help individuals receive assessments without needing to see a doctor. This could be in the simple form of questionnaire apps that determine whether symptoms warrant a doctor's visit, or something more complex like a health-monitoring wearable.
Either way, there’s a big opportunity for mobile tech to step up and fill this space in a meaningful way.
No, we aren't talking about replacing your friends with robots during times of social distancing (although that isn't a terrible idea...). Instead, we're predicting that AI will be rolled out more universally, as a way of reducing — and standing in for — necessary person-to-person interactions.
An exciting example of what this might look like comes in the form of Replika, an AI meant to supplement a mental healthcare worker. Though not a replacement for therapy (yet), these chatbots perform many of the same functions as traditional therapy with the added benefit of being free, always available, and (depending on how data is secured) completely private.
This tech can, of course, be a fantastic aid for the stressed out and isolated general public during, and after, the pandemic. But how can other businesses pick it up?
We see two key ways. One: apps like Replika can be used to help remote workers navigate the tricky and unusual working-from-home waters, acting as a crucial HR lifeline around the clock.
And two: will we see more AI utilized in customer support? Chatbots have long been a part of the service agent’s toolkit, but with the rise of voice search — where will it go in the future?
If 2020 has taught us anything so far, it’s that we can’t take anything for granted.
What we can do, though, is be proactive — life will be fundamentally changed by COVID-19, it’s up to us how we adapt.
Whether you’re looking for a mobile solution that’s B2B or B2C, Orbitum is here to help. We do everything mobile — and we can help you to do the same.