From startups to the Supreme Court, the coronavirus has changed the world

From startups to the Supreme Court, the coronavirus has changed the world

Three months ago, the idea that most video conferences would take place with at least one child or more making noise in the background seemed outlandish, but the coronavirus-related lockdown around the world is making these types of scenes the norm now. As COVID-19 continues to spread – with more positive cases and deaths being reported every day – people across the world have turned to a unique method to tackle the problem and ‘flatten the curve’ through social distancing.

To prevent the spread of the virus beyond the reasonable capacity of health systems and to protect vulnerable members of society, many are staying at home, going out only for necessary reasons and avoiding large gatherings. But society needs to keep functioning and many people need to keep going to their workplaces to be productive.

Another major challenge at this critical time is the shortage of essential products and goods. India’s big cities face shortages of hand sanitizers, while Western countries have seen hoarders stock up on excessively large amounts of toilet paper.

With the need to move away right now, our trust in technology and the Internet is stronger than ever. Tech companies are scrambling to provide better access and features to keep consumers productive and safe, even when they are at home for extended periods of time.

core functions

The World Health Organization advice to countries is ‘test test test’, but that’s easier said than done in most places. The private sector is getting in on the act, with a major initiative called Project Baseline by Verily Life Sciences, owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The company is now offering COVID-19 testing in the California Bay Area.

India’s Supreme Court is also considering steps to take the court online, with virtual courts coming soon to avoid large gatherings.

Yet at the same time, religious gatherings in India remain unchecked. Given that a church meeting in Korea triggered a domino effect of infections, this is cause for concern, and virtual alternatives should also be sought for these matters. These methods for keeping society running smoothly, even in the face of a pandemic, can change the way we do things, even after things are resolved.

Watch movies and TV shows at home

The point of social distancing is to stay away from crowded public spaces, which naturally means you won’t be able to go to the theater. That’s where OTT platforms come in, allowing users to stream content and stay on top of their entertainment from the comfort of their homes.

Universal Studios has taken what is perhaps the most significant step in this regard, giving iTunes, Amazon and other users of digital platforms in the United States access to movies that are still playing in theaters (or would be if theaters were open) at discounted rental prices. The Hunt, Emma, ​​and The Invisible Man will be available to rent on iTunes for $20, making it easier for people to watch new movies without having to leave their homes. The upcoming film Trolls World Tour, scheduled to be released in theaters on April 10th (April 17th in India), will be available for streaming on the same day.

trolls world tour home

The reason this matters is because it paves the way for movies to hit streaming platforms sooner after theatrical release than they currently do. More users would avoid going out in hopes that the movies they want to watch would be available to stream in a matter of weeks rather than months, changing online viewing habits in the long run. Will it be the end of cinema chains, already struggling to make money? Will they go the way of theaters and become an entertainment niche as the world simply transitions to streaming?

On the other hand, the streaming platforms themselves are doing more to offer better and more relevant content right now. While not tied to the pandemic, the entry of Disney+ in India will offer users an entirely new catalog of quality content to watch at this time. Hotstar could have handled the launch a lot better, though.

Some services even promote movies like Contagion and Outbreak as a means of giving consumers a fictional but educational look at life in times of a pandemic. Meanwhile, a new Netflix documentary series – Pandemic: How To Prevent An Outbreak – makes viewing particularly relevant at this time.

Faster internet for more productivity at home

With more people working from home, internet speed, FUP limits and reliability are critical. We haven’t seen much from the vast majority of Indian Internet Service Providers in this regard, with the exception of ACT Fibernet; the company is offering free speed upgrades and unlimited FUPs to its users until March 31st to make working from home easier.

Similar steps are being taken by ISPs across the US, with Comcast taking the big step of offering free Wi-Fi, waiving data caps and late payment fees, and pledging not to disconnect any connections during the outbreak. Steps like these will be remembered by users even after things get back to normal, and show that big companies are trying to do their part right now.

After people spend weeks or even months working from home, how many will want to go back to traffic jams and open offices? If people could manage work from home without losing productivity, would their employers also encourage more remote working in order to reduce the amount of office real estate they have to manage? While the current lockdown plan is only short-term, its impact could well be long-term.

Education is changing online

Social distancing is particularly critical in education, but ending school and college closures is not an ideal solution. To address this, courses are moving online, with videoconferencing apps and tools helping classes continue to function remotely.

The videoconferencing tool Zoom recently announced that it is offering its services free of charge to public elementary and high schools in some affected countries. Similar measures are being taken by Kahoot, Scholastic abroad.

Also in India, platforms like Vedantu, Toppr and Byjus are offering free online courses to keep learners busy at home. The pandemic represents a huge opportunity for ed-tech to step up and show how it can keep educational functions flowing even when attendees are located remotely.

Meet Namya Joshi, the 13-year-old girl from Ludhiana that Satya Nadella praised on stage

At the same time, it’s important to remember β€” particularly in a country like India β€” that not all students have access to the internet and smart devices. It will be a challenge to ensure that no child is left behind, and even as virtual classrooms gain momentum, we must not lose sight of the marginalized in our society.

Making it easy not to leave

Several other companies are making it easier to avoid exiting one-off ways or keep productivity high digitally. OnePlus is offering port repairs for its devices, while several food delivery platforms including Swiggy, Zomato, McDonalds and Dominos have introduced ‘contactless’ deliveries.

contactless delivery zomato Zomato

With contactless delivery, the executive leaves your order at the door

Korg and Moog are allowing musicians to keep working away from their gear by making their iOS and Android synth apps free for a limited time. Adobe is also allowing students to access its Creative Cloud apps amid closures to allow them to continue learning and working on apps that are normally only accessed on college campuses.

The Rise of the Bidet Spray

Finally, we touch on a core bodily function and how the Coronavirus is changing things. While toilet paper backlog is not a big problem in India because of the way things are done here, it is significantly affecting people in the West. Incredibly, shoppers are turning to good old-fashioned bidet spray as a way to stay clean, with sales soaring in markets like North America where its adoption has often been limited.

In conclusion, the Coronavirus outbreak could change the way we operate as a society; the social aspects of our lives could change significantly even after the threat of COVID-19 is dealt with, with technology playing an important role in the future.

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