While the world is fighting to contain the Coronavirus Pandemic, there are a range of technologies already being deployed to assist with keeping people safe during this outbreak. This short article lists some of the ways that advanced technology can help to contain the spread of COVID-19:
- Autonomous robots are being used as a replacement for human cleaners at segregated wards to reduce infection rates.
- Robots (either autonomous or via human telepresence) are being used to screen patients who have been in close contact with coronavirus victims, in the same vicinity as outbreaks, or who have travelled to areas with outbreaks. In the USA, one of the robots already deployed has been armed with a stethoscope!
- A new medical robot was created specifically to take blood samples and has recently outperformed human health-care professionals in a clinical trial.
- Robots are being used to transport food, supplies and medicine to people in quarantine or other areas where humans would be at risk from contamination.
- Robots (controlled by humans) are being used to clean aeroplanes. These disinfectant bots use ultraviolet scans to make sure the planes are not infected.
- Disinfection robots, using autonomous navigation technology, are also being deployed to sanitize surfaces and air space in hospitals and other venues.
- Drones are being used to spray disinfectant over wide areas.
- In China, drones equipped with loudspeakers are being used to monitor citizens seen in open areas who are not wearing face masks.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used to track coronavirus outbreaks.
- AI is being used to connect the dots in massive datasets to warn about potential disease threats by geography.
- An AI-powered, non-contact infrared sensor system that provides fast multi-person temperature monitoring that can quickly detect if person is suspected of having a fever, and is already being used at railway stations, airports and other public places.
- AI-based voice assistants (robo-callers) are calling people to give advice on home-quarantine.
- Because AI can rapidly crunch through massive datasets and recognize patterns, it has the potential to greatly accelerate the time it takes to develop and conduct modelled tests of new medical treatments.
- Radiologists have been using AI for some time now to examine medical imagery and assist in the diagnosis of pneumonia, lung disease and other respiratory ailments. These techniques can also be applied to the diagnosis of COVID-19.
- And, AI-driven drug discovery may eventually lead to a vaccine for COVID-19.
We will continue to see many innovative ways that robots and AI software will be used to battle the Coronavirus Pandemic.
On a more mundane level, tools such as videoconferencing that we already have can allow people to gather virtually, and work or study from home, as well as providing a platform for tele-health solutions – greatly reducing the spread of this contagion.
As a keynote speaker, I am already investigating ways to deliver virtual keynote speeches and webinars in an engaging, professional manner that feels like a live keynote, but allows “delegates” to remain in their home or office.
In the course of time, we will also see greater use of technologies such as augmented and virtual reality – and possibly even holograms ⎯ to bring people together remotely. Personally, I think holograms are bit further down the pike for mass consumption due to large bandwidth requirements, but they are already a real possibility for larger venues or offices.
Expect to hear a lot more about this, as companies increasingly rely on technology to keep people safe whilst bringing them together in a virtual environment.