Photo by My name is Yanick on Unsplash

I recently walked into my gym for the first time in months. I’ve entered those awkward double doors thousands of times, but never like this. As soon as I entered, a man standing behind a giant plastic door with a thermal camera approached me and took my temperature. He was wearing a mask, so I couldn’t make out his demeanour. He glanced at the temperature nervously and said, “Is it really hot outside?” 

“Well, it is New Orleans in the summer …” I responded. He took my temperature two more times until finally my body temperature returned to normal and I was admitted into my gym. 

This is the new normal.

Everyone is on edge, and no one wants the pandemic to continue. Businesses are finally opening back up and with that, precautions are taken. With a new normal put into place, some tech companies have jumped on board, creating software and devices that help stores, conferences, and more to control the possibility of future outbreaks. 

Here, we take a look at some of these technologies, and the impact they could have on future events and our ability to work.

  • Infrared cameras

Thermal cameras have been around for almost 100 years, but they are now being used to detect individuals with elevated body temperatures at airports, grocery stores, major events, train stations, and other places where many people come and go. According to EXTECH, a company that manufactures these kinds of cameras, “although no thermal cameras can detect or diagnose the coronavirus, (these) cameras can be used as an adjunct to other body temperature screening tools for detecting elevated skin temperature in high-traffic public places through quick individual screening.” Catching someone who may be sick before they enter a public space can help protect those with weakened immune systems and prevent the spread of illness. Though it can feel uncomfortable being screened upon walking into your neighborhood grocery store for elevated temperatures, this technology helps save lives. This is the future of in person events and conferences. 

  • Hands-free door openers

Simple yet genius. Introducing touch tools “The so-called hygiene hook is small enough to fit in a pocket and made from a non-porous material, which makes it easy to clean,” reports Reuters. This small, simple device (see an example here) prevents the spread of germs. You can open doors, type in your pin number, press buttons, turn on faucets and more with one of these small contraptions. The age of hand-touching buttons is over. We will likely see gadgets like this rising in popularity over the coming months to protect individuals from picking up unwanted germs from public spaces.

  • Smart thermometers

A thermometer company, Kinsa, anonymously records and maps fevers from around the world using data collected from people using their thermometers. According to the company, they’re able to track data about the flu and the coronavirus before the CDC can because of it’s real time tracking. According to Donald G. McNeil Jr.’s reporting in The New York Times, “Kinsa Health has sold or given away more than a million smart thermometers to households in which two million people reside, and thus can record fevers almost as soon as consumers experience them.” In the future, companies like this will have the ability to track, in real time, the spread of a virus. This technology will allow cities to act quicker and shut down major conferences or events if there is the risk of a major outbreak.

  • Virtual reality

We have been taking part in the largest remote work experiment in history, and the medical community is not exempt. Remote doctor appointments over video call are now the new norm. The technology is developing as millions of people are now online. According to Andrew Osterland from CNBC, there has been a rise in interest for virtual reality headsets. The future of remote doctors appointments, vacations, conferences and gaming are all riding on virtual reality. Thanks to the pandemic, many VR companies are rushing to make this technology affordable and accessible.

The world has changed; there is no doubt about that. Though there is much uncertainty in how exactly these changes will affect life over the next few years, the development of new technology is creating a safer and more dynamic reality for everyone. Maybe the next conference you attend will be fully equipped with infrared cameras, or maybe it will take place over virtual reality, but no matter what, it will be a new and exciting way to experience coming together.

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