Pandemic = tech opportunities

‘It’s not what happens to us that affects us but how we look at those things”

Naturally, for many of us the global pandemic has brought pain and misery to many – both physically and mentally.

For the tech industry, the pandemic has brought opportunities for innovation and good business.

Ben Wood, Chief of Research at CCS Insight – explained some of the new solutions appearing at the CES Tech Expo – for the first time being held virtually 11-14 January 2021

Ben explained some of the ideas presented at the expo are a direct result of the pandemic. These include specially coated tech protected from picking up the virus, a desk light which cleans keyboards etc every hour, face masks with integrated purifiers.

Robotics have been around for over 50 years. We’re used to seeing these in car manufacturing plants. Recently we’ve seen food delivery companies use robots to deliver food in smaller areas. Robots are used in corporate setting to direct visitors, used for contactless service and payment. Future plans include use in the care sector for administering drugs but also to stave of the killer of loneliness.

Innovation and opportunity often springs up from adversity. Let’s not be scared of that adversity but grab it for the opportunities it presents.

Remember – ‘It’s not what happens to us that affects us but how we look at those things”

History repeating itself? Technology helping or crushing humans?

Watching a feature on a news channel this morning about the pros and cons of capitalism has left me wondering if we have learned anything from the Industrial Revolution to the financial markets crash of 2008.


I’m not sure I’m any clearer on an answer!


Hundreds of years ago machines started replacing humans’ physical labour.  Less people were employed which more was produced.  But workers laid off faced destitution with no money to feed, clothe themselves or provide shelter – remember this was before state unemployment benefits.


With the advancement of machines cracking codes in WW2, computers reducing in size from huge rooms to pocket size and robots being used in medical sciences we’ve seen many pluses to this technology.  But is it now going too far?


The online news feature showed Bob Pisani, On-Air Stock Editor for CNBC – American news channel who liaises with stock traders and explains the markets to the general population.  Bob passionately believes in capitalism without which he feels  there would be no financial support within the economy.  Markus Koch a Stock Market Correspondence stated traders have been reduced from thousands to hundreds in recent years as machines have taken over.  More thought provoking for me was Tarek Mashhour, Audi Plant Germany explaining their goal is to have a production network of communicating robots meaning increased productivity with the same resources.  But if less humans are working – who is buying the Audi cars?


Dirk Heitmann of IBM Germany explained they are developing cognitive machines capable of learning on their own!  Dirk feels this increases human creativity capabilities.  But could this be at the price of human jobs?


Anthony Scaramucci, Hedge Fund owner believes capitalism is the only system which works.  ‘There is tremendous opportunity for growth over the next fifty years.  We can mine for minerals essential in technology in asteroids in space’.  Now that idea might sound completely out there but we have computers that can talk with each other, robots used in manufacturing, healthcare and so on.  Is it really out of reach?


An interesting thought concluded the news feature by Professor Tim Jackson – Economist at University of Surrey who believes ‘we live on a finite planet therefore the expectation we can all grow and profit from capitalism is false – we can’t’.


We seem to get richer in technological advancements but the divide between rich and poor seems just as wide and just as unbalanced.


We watched with baited breath…..


Jobs for the future

It’s clear from various media sources there is a talent shortage in key areas such as engineering and associated trades.  Equally, it’s understood jobs are becoming more automated but we aren’t training our children for a future in robotics…….


Children learn so quickly.  They absorb, adapt and invent quickly.  Just look at the amazing number of internet business owners still at school!


BBC Click’s programme reported on a great initiative Japanese schools use which is mixing traditional Sumo with robotics!  Children build robots and pre-programmed them – these aren’t radio controlled.  The programming details attack plans and is key to flipping the opposing robot out of the ring essentially becoming the winner.


As we have Battle of the Bands in our schools, why not Robotic Wars to give the interest and foundation for a career in this future industry…….

Voice Technology – What Do You Think

Good for business?

Good for the home?

Any need for caution?


It struck me watching the BBC News this morning how we continually chase the next ‘new thing’ which we can’t live without.  The feature was on technology.  It’s a decade since Steve Jobs launched Apple’s first IPhone.  Seems much longer!  Now they are common, do multiple tasks, saves us time and health – no longer do we need to lug around a heavy bag containing notebook, diary, paper presentations etc!


From a business point of view the IPhone has been ground breaking.  I’m not sure that’s the same for domestic life.  Yes, definitely more efficient with software that connects all family members up but how many times have you seen people walking along texting – not looking where they are going or in a restaurant checking emails rather than talking to each other.


There’s also been a very subtle stealth ability for providers to capture data each time we log on to a website for instance.  How often after visiting a site do ads pop up? Infuriating!  Of course without advertising revenue a lot of the search engines would charge considerably for the services we’ve become used to.


Now the next generation of technology has been launched with the arrival of Alexa, Siri etc – Voice activation.  Still a lot of teething issues but it is early in the technology.  Food for thought from the BBC report was how much data we give away using this technology without knowing it?


Time will tell whether the risk is worth it.