As Covid-19 cases continue to rise, the urgency for 'smart tech' has increased. Until March of this year, ‘smart tech’ was a term only vaguely familiar to most South Africans.
Smart tech is technology that allows the user wireless control of anything from home appliances to one’s own driverless car. Today, however, ‘smart tech’ is proving to be solution to a new COVID-19 world, where social distancing is a necessity.
Robots and the Covid-19 fight
Cape Town’s Tygerberg Hospital is the Western Cape’s demarcated COVID-19 point-of-call medical facility. There, doctors have enlisted the help of a smart tech robot to assist with rounds and limit infection.
‘Quinton’ is a digital doctor developed at Stellenbosch University’s Sunskill laboratories and is a mobile machine with a computer tablet at its head.
Quinton allows doctors personal access to patients via remote control from the next room or even kilometres away. This has made transmission free ward rounds possible, even if doctors are in quarantine themselves.
“It was truly an eye-opener and a potential game-changer in this and future similar pandemics,” said Coenie Koegelenberg, who is a professor in pulmonology at Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) in a recent interview. “Using this device will enable us to provide a service if our skills sets are in short supply.”
Technology makes driving smarter
Global auto giant Volvo is relying more heavily on their already present smart tech. Like Quinton, diagnostic WiFi systems are allowing personal service technicians to remotely diagnose cars brought in by customers, limiting the need for personal interaction.
With the ability to simultaneously connect wirelessly to five cars, Volvo service experiences are today taking the shape of a wireless diagnostics session from the parking lot. This is important as it limits the need for physical interaction, and in some cases even makes wireless repairs possible with new software downloads.
“Integrating digital solutions have long been a priority,” says Charmagne Mavudzi, head of marketing for Volvo Car South Africa , “but the arrival of the pandemic has highlighted just how important our digital focus is, especially now that we must find ways to improve our customer’s experience, while limiting their personal exposure.”
Various companies are bringing personalised meals from a pre-selected diet to your door daily as well as virtually allows you to roam the aisles of numerous supermarkets, all via your phone.
These tech solutions are expected to tremendously help the private sector retail, the informal sector is set to benefit also.
In Uganda the The Market Garden app has been developed for The Institute for Social Transformation, and is putting previously bustling public markets into the digital sphere. Today the app allows sellers to trade on a zero data platform, and thereafter make home deliveries via bicycle.
Smart tech has developed into a critical tool for everything from home energy conservation to global convenience. Today, with the true potential of a post COVID-19 South Africa just beginning to reveal itself, expect smarter tech solutions to be the order of the day.