The world moves faster than we think and imagine, although paradoxically our personal environment seems to be in slow motion. Let's talk a little bit about the technological implications in a confined world.
Although at this time of year (mid June) it seems that half the planet is still in quarantine and the rest are opening their social, economic and cultural activities little by little, some with an iron order and some more with an absolute lack of control (like Mexico and almost all the countries in Latin America), a situation that could lead to an outbreak of SAR2-CoV-2 virus infection.
What can we expect in the coming months? What can we expect in the next few months? Well, there is a strong debate between security, health and privacy, and on these three fronts, technology has a lot to offer.
1. Technology is doing its part, especially in the area of detecting cases in crowded places. Let's see. There are already many places that are betting on a sanitary customs that basically includes an electronic thermometer, or better yet, a thermographic camera for fever detection, a station to dispense antibacterial gel, a shoe cleaning mat and a mandatory call for the use of mouth guards in restaurants, corporate offices and public spaces that are gradually opening.
2. Should these health arches be the norm in a post-pandemic society? Well, it wouldn't hurt to be individuals much more concerned about hygiene, but the future will only depend on whether people get used to it and use it conscientiously and not as a demand or obligation. It is well known that certain societies are more reluctant to this type of initiative and in the case of Latinos, we will have to work a lot on our conscience and social responsibility to assume that the world has changed forever.
3. We will also have to understand a touchless environment. This concept of "no touch" will apply to our public human behavior and our relationship with technology. People will (and should) want to touch less things exposed to bacteria and viruses: locks, doorknobs, keys, taps, soap and gel dispensers, lever to activate the toilet. Here we will see an exponential increase in products and solutions for our homes and workplaces. It is natural to think that there will be industries that will benefit greatly from these advances.
4. How are we to assume the extended social distance? Will we understand the importance of personal space? How are we to explain to children, to the elderly that we must stay two meters away from people? Nothing easy but not impossible either. Masks or mouth-covers are permeating as a healthy habit that used to seem so strange to us from Asian peoples.
5. Speaking of touchless, the increase of voice-based control systems is imperative. Obviously we have already seen the action of OK Google!, Alexa or Siri, but we will see a new generation of control platforms for commercial, industrial and corporate applications that allow the automation of systems and services to the order of the human voice. Let's think about the possibilities of control in a hotel room: we could control the water of the taps, the temperature of the water in the shower, the activation of the toilet, turn on, turn off and select our favorite music or videos, ask for room service without picking up the phone, activate the alarm clock... everything without touching objects. When will we get to that? It's uncertain to say, but it will be one of the directions of the technology.
6. People love video calls. Whether it's for social and family life or to resolve work issues. And we have to find our favorite application among dozens of them that are available for mass consumption: Google Meet, WhastApp, Facebook Messenger, House Party, Jitsi Meet, Skype Meet Now... This will not change and on the contrary, we will increase the use and consumption of these technological tools. And this also brings new needs: more speed and higher internet bandwidth in our homes, better Ethernet and WiFi network infrastructure and a genuine concern for digital and virtual security systems to prevent identity theft or hacking of our residential systems.
7. On the business side, the platforms for meeting rooms and videoconferencing have grown exponentially: Zoom seems to lead the field, but there are many more with very interesting features: GoTo Meeting, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, 8×8, Bluejeans, JoinMe... these solutions will continue to advance in functionality, security and interoperability which will mean a real change of paradigm. How many managers, employees, executives or creatives of a corporation need a physical office? Is it possible that the use of these tools will mean the decrease of exorbitant rents in luxury buildings? It is remarkable that collaboration and unified communication leads to savings in transportation and travel times, gasoline and therefore in the impact of the carbon footprint. The pandemic has taught millions that it is possible to work from home.
8. Is it fair or normal for governments to have all your personal, employment and health information to monitor cases of contagion and thus territorially demarcate and isolate the individuals involved? It is an intense debate between defenders of human rights and individual liberties, epidemiologists and health authorities of various nations. Just to mention one example, Singapore based its strategy on this control by using satellite tracking of its inhabitants' phones, so that anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 had to undergo forced isolation and their neighbours were informed in real time of the health condition of the infected person. Will we find the middle ground in these differences?
Is it then that biometric scanning will be the norm in the near future? We have to take into account that this has to do with the intersection between advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, Big Data and data analysis (analytics). The intersection of this information provides previously unimagined possibilities.