Top 5 "New Normal" digital trends that will shape our future

Published on
July 2, 2020
Raffi Vartian
Vice President, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships
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Penned by meldCX USA’s VP of Business Development, Raffi Vartian.

It is no secret that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation worldwide. Government-imposed lockdowns and social distancing have urged people to work from home, buy groceries online and use digital wallets. It is fair to say that we’ve all become digital natives overnight.

The slowdown of the economy due to this disruption, however, has caused 195M people worldwide to be out of work, and studies have said that up to 42% of these job losses may be permanent.

As companies across various industries have sought to return back to work, there has been a radical rethink in how to provide services while keeping customers and employees safe. Technology is playing a major role in the “New Normal” - dramatically accelerating the adoption of solutions that were, up until a few months ago, in the lab or on the drawing board.

Trend 1 - Monitoring Public Health in Practice via Computer Vision

It’s no doubt countries that already weathered the 2002-2004 SARS epidemic were better equipped to handle the onset of COVID-19. From technical infrastructure already in place for temperature tracking and contact tracing, to broad face mask compliance. In fact, more than 50 countries require face masks to be worn in public.

Recent advancements in computer vision technologies have made broad deployment temperature and face mask detection much more accessible. These solutions are being rolled out across workplaces and retail locations and can range from a simple “green light/red light” temperature scan to fully integrated solutions.

Recent studies have shown that the vast majority of people either infected or “pre-symptomatic” with COVID-19 do not present a fever, so additional technologies are being designed and deployed to monitor human behavior in addition to baseline temperature screening.

Face mask usage is credited with reducing the spread of the virus, and monitoring compliance through computer vision solutions is relatively straightforward.  Additional measures include social distancing measures such as maintaining distance, limiting group sizes and dwell times within confined spaces.

Trend 2 - Solutions for Cleaning Compliance

Scientists are working around the globe on understanding the role that surfaces play in transmission of COVID-19, showing various degrees of time that the virus may live on surfaces.  Because viruses and other human-transmissible diseases are naked to the human eye, governments, businesses and individuals are dramatically increasing their cleaning activity.

This new reality presents an enormous challenge for society that we are all in the midst of grappling with: how much preventative cleaning is enough?  Said another way, how much preventative cleaning is wasted through misallocation of resources?  Without accurate information on the movement of people and their interactions with various types of surfaces the world has taken a hammer to the problem which may only require a scalpel.

Computer vision solutions are being implemented to measure human activity on surfaces, whereby hand movements are tracked and accumulated over time.  This information is then fed back to the people and organizations in charge of cleaning the shared surfaces so they can focus on the most heavily trafficked areas for sanitation.

Intelligence is also being built into touch screen technologies, tracking the usage over time and setting thresholds on a variety of factors.  Quick serve restaurants, wayfinding directories, visitor sign-in and other commonly touched surfaces are gaining the intelligence to “lock down” when thresholds are met, allowing sanitization efforts to be usage-based as opposed to time-based.

These solutions have the potential to dramatically impact assumptions about currently implemented cleaning activities, dramatically resulting in more precision, better labor deployment and cleaning supply solutions.

Trend 3 - Contactless Payments

Contactless payments are safe and highly secure, not to mention convenient. As digital wallets are becoming the preferred way of payment, retail locations are dramatically accelerating the deployment of contactless payment through a variety of methods. While the major mobile phone manufacturers have enabled the ability for touchless payments for years, consumer adoption varies wildly by geography.

There are a variety of ways to implement these solutions (from our partners at FreedomPay):

  • Contactless Payment Method: Contactless Card Tap, Apple Pay, Google Pay
  • Integrated Digital Wallet: In-app payments for your consumer application
  • eCommerce Offering: Online payments for your consumer website
  • Touchless Drive-Through: Fully-integrated, touchless drive-through support
  • BYOD: Bring your own device for in-store payments without touching a payment terminal

Trend 4 - Alternatives to Touch Technology

Using your hands to interact with a kiosk without physically touching it has been a science project for several years with a number of manufacturers, but COVID-19 has created a new rush to implement these solutions.

1. Gesture-based technology:

It seemed only yesterday that touchscreens were deemed the future. Blurring the lines between the physical and digital, touchscreens provide the gateway to a more intuitive interaction with technology.The recent pandemic, however, has led to a surge in interest in a new breed of technology - touchless. Gesture control powered by hand tracking and mid-air haptics makes touchless interaction possible and effortless. It allows for a similar intuitive user experience of touching a screen, without the threat of possible exposure to harmful bacteria.

2. Voice-based technology:

Voice-based agents have been increasingly commonplace. Everyone has Siri or Google Assistant in their pockets, and Amazon Alexa is at home.Similar to gesture-based solutions, voice-based solutions powered by artificial intelligence provides users with more options to interact with the digital world, removing barriers not just for the able-bodied but also people with disabilities.

Trend 5 - Data, Data and More Data

Those who are familiar with online advertising know that the number of click-throughs are miniscule compared to ad impressions.

What if we can measure content effectiveness in a physical space just like measuring online ads? We think about content effectiveness in a bit finer-grained way, loosely modeled after the way online video services measure pre-roll and in-stream ads - dwell time is used as a proxy for attentiveness. So how can we truly capture the audience’s attention in a physical setting?

The answer: intelligent content that fine-tunes itself based on who is viewing the ad.

It is possible to measure content effectiveness in DOOH advertising, as long as you have data. The best way to capture these data efficiently and effectively is via vision analytics - employing AI technology to track eyeballs and capture (anonymous) demographics information. This, in turn, allows for programmatic advertising, showing relevant content to viewers of the ad.

meldCX’s Viana™ allows for high-performance face mapping that extracts predefined human data - making sure that any information captured is anonymous and compliant with data privacy policy.

So there you have it! Five digital trends that will shape our future as we move forward from this pandemic. Health and safety will take precedence over physical contact, with preventative measures being deployed - such as contactless/touchless technology, face masks & physical distance monitoring, and more rigorous cleaning regimen via computer vision.

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