Industry Insights

The Power of IoT in the New Normal

2020-05-11  |  7 min read 

The world was not prepared for the pandemic. Never before has the entire world experienced such strange times. Working and studying from home has now become the new norm. The world is desperate to find a cure for this pandemic. Scientists are working hard to find the best treatment options, while “scientist-wannabes” are coming up with a variety of hoax measures to treat the global pandemic— everything from sesame oil, vinegar gargles, and sheep's head soup to garlic water. You name it.

While digital infrastructure might not be the cure to the pandemic, it is certainly helping the world get through in many different ways. More and more, governments, enterprises, and healthcare sectors are leaning toward the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) to fight the pandemic as it continues to spread globally.

Here are 5 ways IoT and AI are helping to curb the pandemic:

Wearables                                           

Many workplaces are now using wearable devices for contact tracing and to monitor medical personnel and patients’ health. A contact tracing device includes passive GPS location tracking and proximity sensors powered by Bluetooth and ultra-wideband connectivity, a rechargeable battery, and built-in LTE. The wearer can update their health status to indicate if there is any potential or verified infection, and it will send a notification to others they have been in contact with, based on location history. A centralized system within the organization can use this information for a full health dashboard at the workplace.

The same concept is applied to a wearable that monitors practitioner and patient health – even patients at home. A body temperature sensor is applied directly to the wearer’s body to monitor real-time temperature change. The data is transmitted wirelessly to a nurse’s station for continuous monitoring. Through this capability, the nurse can monitor and manage more patients that are at home, preserving hospital capacity for those at higher risk.      

Assistive drones

In the unprecedented measure to reduce human-to-human contact, drones are being used in various ways to prevent the spread of the disease. It is the safest way to deliver medical and grocery supplies to highly infected locations, monitor quarantine areas for movement and congregation of people, and perform a thermal scan as a way to monitor the body temperature of people in a specific location. Agriculture spray drones are being deployed to carry out tasks like spraying disinfectant in potentially affected areas. They are easy to operate and can help reduce the risk of sanitation workers being exposed to the virus.

Facial recognition and temperature sensing system

For organizations or facilities that are essential during the lockdown period, an advanced facial recognition system, combined with a thermal imaging device for temperature monitoring is useful to identify staff and visitors with high temperatures. The system can be linked to tan IoT sensor-enabled door to restrict access to anyone who might be carrying an infection. This touch-less system allows companies to avoid the contamination caused by finger-based biometric sensors.  

Air quality sensors

Air quality is a major concern during the COVID-19 pandemic since it is a respiratory disease. The goal is to stop the spread of the virus, which can be transmitted through air or surfaces. Harmful particles, like the Coronavirus, are so small that it might pass through traditional HVAC filters. T IoT sensors can detect these tiny particles. A facility and maintenance crew can assess in-building air quality through the data collected from IoT sensors and a cloud-based AI system that analyzes the data it receives.

Artificial Intelligence-based research

To date, the pandemic has spread to 210 countries and territories around the world, with over 2.5 million confirmed cases. As research details emerge, the data pool will grow exponentially. It will hit a point where it is beyond a human’s capacity to make sense of it. Scientists, doctors, or clinicians, who work with patient’s data, will need to utilize AI for diagnosis and vaccine development. Many companies are collaborating and sharing their algorithms in the hopes of improving their research efficiency.

We are relying so much on connected devices to get us through this extraordinary time. When much of our sensitive and personal data has been collected and uploaded to cloud, security must be top of our mind. The fact that enterprises are rushing through large-scale implementation of automation and remote-working infrastructure, building a robust architecture might not be of top priority. Hackers will look to exploit the public’s fear and take advantage of the strain on critical infrastructure, resulting in a surge of ransomware and other attacks. With architectural security being the chief concern, enterprises are relying on security experts to take charge of the situation.

Whether we like it or not, IoT and AI are being integrated into our lives. The pandemic might have accelerated the adoption even further, seeing how critical social distancing is to stop the spread of the virus. In this unprecedented time, enterprises hesitant to jump on the bandwagon in the past are now eagerly deploying the technology. With the massive change in the healthcare industry, Keysight is poised to help our customers prepare for the future. Find out more about what Keysight has to offer here.