How New Technology is Helping in Reducing the Impact of COVID-19?



New-age technology is using biometrics, contact tracing, cloud, data analytics and temperature screening for COVID-19.

The effect of the outbreak of COVID-19 can be traced across every aspect, be it in people’s daily lives or businesses. The pandemic has caused millions of lives across the world and disrupted billions of dollars of business profits in the last few weeks. In this entire scenario, technology emerges as an effective approach, playing a crucial role in the fight against the novel coronavirus. This has given the rise in the use of automation technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and biometrics, among others.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is relentlessly increasing without any cure in place, with just social distancing available as a preventative measure, robots are stepping in where humans can’t. For instance, in South Korea, robots have been used to measure temperatures and distribute hand sanitisers. Fast-food chains such as McDonald’s have also been testing robots as cooks and servers. In warehouses, robots were already in use to improve efficiency. And the COVID-19 outbreak is increasing this urgency for sorting, shipping and packing.

When it comes to detecting and identifying COVID-19 patients, the use of temperature detection kiosks are seeing greater spike and are being deployed everywhere, from airports and hotels to government organizations and institutes. For example, AAEON Electronics, which provides Internet of Things (IoT) and AI solutions, has deployed its BOXER-8120AI to monitor crowds for wearing masks, while identifying people with a fever.

Traceability with Data Sharing

In order to improve the traceability of corona-affected patients, many companies are turning to trending technologies such as AI, machine learning, biometrics, and mobile, among others. Microsoft Bing, for instance, introduced a new interactive map that can provide information on the spread of COVID-19. The map shows the number of cases based on per country, and break down by the number of active cases, recovered, and fatal cases. On the other hand, Taiwan CDC central epidemic command centre (CECC) is integrating health data with the travel data in order to develop a monitoring system and provide real-time alerts. On January 20, 2020, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) announced the activation of the CECC for Severe Special Infectious Pneumonia.

Rise of Contactless Biometric Systems

As the effect of COVID-19 can stay active on an infected surface for a few hours to a few days, as per an Epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, companies have found ways to enable the use of biometrics without touching the system. Contactless biometrics can be used to verify passengers passing through border control or departure gates, without having to place their hands anywhere near a scanner. The years 2019 saw substantial developments in biometric technology rollout at international airports, including Delta Air Lines who became the first terminal in the US that deployed biometrics. Others are Los Angeles, JFK, Heathrow, Orlando and more.

Today, with the increase of COVID-19, most of the industries turn to a contactless biometric system. Thus, the need for touchless access control and workforce management biometric solutions is becoming the new reality, which creates a new business case for the implementation of face recognition technology.

Big Data Analytics and AI

AI is already playing a vital role in developing a vaccine by helping medical researchers and comprehending viral protein structures. For instance, a team of researchers at the Allen Institute for AI, Google DeepMind have developed AI tools, shared data sets and research outcomes. Earlier this year, Google DeepMind released AlphaFold, a cutting-edge system to foresee the 3D structure of a protein-based on its genetic sequence.

Moreover, big data analytics is assisting several pandemic management teams to quickly identify infected people with COVID-19, connect with them, and track individuals they have come in contact with. Apart from this, AI-powered data analytics and predictive modelling systems are also enabling medical practitioners to understand more about the disease. 

Thus, these solutions can help detect and identify outbreak hotspots, ward off infections, lessen the need for physical contact in diagnostics, and even work towards developing a vaccine to mitigate the risks of COVID-19.