What’s making it easier to get out and what we’ll keep using at home
Tech dominated our lives when we couldn’t do much in-person gathering. Now that we’ve largely gone back to hanging out in public, tech … still dominates our lives. Some of the things that became popular alternatives to face-to-face interaction are showing their staying power. Other gadgets are easing our transition back to the public sphere. This is the tech for the post-pandemic lifestyle.
Partly because of worker shortages and partly because of automation, some restaurants have deployed robots to take orders, run food, and bus tables. Richtech Robotics Matradee uses Lidar to travel across multiple surfaces without bumping into anything or anyone. Its touchless interface can take payments, and Matradee can send notifications to smart watches to alert staff. Bear Robotics’ Servi does much the same, using machine vision and laser sensors to navigate tight spaces and deliver plates. A touch interface lets staff program Servi for a variety of tasks.
Fitness trackers aren’t new exactly, but when the slightest hint you might be sick meant a lot more and being as healthy as possible was a big emphasis, their popularity grew. People adjusting to stepping back out are wearing health trackers for some peace of mind. Oura Ring helped make the NBA bubble a success last year, and its in-depth measurements of things like calorie intake and steps taken while you’re awake along with respiratory rate and sleep quality help wearers know when something is off. The WHOOP Strap collects physiological data 24/7 then passes along tips to help you exercise better, recover better, and sleep better.
Around the world, airlines are increasingly using automated bag drop systems for passengers to check in their luggage without needing to wait in line and tie up a reservations agent. The Materna IPS self-drop system is employed at such gateways as London Gatwick and Tokyo Haneda airports. American Airlines is testing mobile ID verification at Dallas-Fort Worth and Reagan National for bag drop. Systems such as CLEAR use biometric identifiers (irises and fingerprints) to allow passengers to get through security without long lines.
The Temi personal robot facilitates hands-free interaction in senior living by bringing doctors and caretakers into residents’ rooms via video screens. But that’s just the beginning of what Connected Living delivers. Digital signage in public areas relays information about the day’s meals and activities, as does a dedicated in-room TV channel. Alexa-enabled voice tech lets residents access important information without even the push of a button, and curated video content delivers in-room exercise and meditation classes or educational content.
Online workout subscriptions
Even though the gyms are open now, you might not be too keen on hopping on a machine the person before you forgot to wipe off. Or you’ve gotten used to the convenience of being able to drop everything and work out in an instant at home. Home gym systems such as Tonal take up limited space but deliver the resistance you used to only get with a large apparatus. Subscription apps such as Daily Burn (and Glo for yoga) don’t come with the equipment, but they provide high-intensity and high-performance classes.
People have fallen in love with the convenience of e-commerce, leading to a boom in demand. It’s hard to have enough warehouse workers on hand to locate and load items in time for next-day delivery customers are coming to expect. Fetch Robotics’ autonomous pickers speed up operations safely in cavernous warehouses. The pickers from Locus Robotics reduce warehouse cycle times and collaborate with human workers without getting in the way. As a result, productivity can double or even triple, getting those orders filled.
If you’ve tried to book travel on your own recently, you’ve probably noticed that it takes forever to get somebody on the phone at an airline or online travel agent. In the past, chatbots often haven’t been much help, as they have limited information and aren’t great at deciphering what you mean outside of a few FAQs. But if your question could be answered easily by reading the FAQs, you wouldn’t be calling, now would you? As demand rises faster than call centers can hire and train, chatbots are shouldering more of the load. Fortunately, they’re getting more sophisticated. AI from Gupshup and LivePerson can converse better with customers, understand nuance, and are armed with enough information to answer more questions and solve problems.
School will be back in session in-person this fall, but virtual learning programs such as Coursera aren’t going by the wayside. Lifelong learners can continue their educations with degree-track classes from top institutions or simply acquire new skills for a career change in an altered professional environment. Udemy offers more than 150,000 online courses that users can take on their time and pace for a lot less than tuition at a four-year college.