• Gregory Nichols

How the novel coronavirus pandemic will change the emerging technology landscape

In December 2019, a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was identified in China and has been spreading across the world. The virus has suddenly disrupted everyday life leading to mass disruption in supply chains and has severely impacted the global economy. The emergence of this new threat will undoubtedly change our lives, and in its wake, the world will be searching for new ways to mange life. We have identified five classes of emerging technologies that will likely help us combat this virus and adapt to a new world.

Internet of Things/Cyber-physical Systems

The internet of things (IoT) and cyber-physical allow items to be controlled remotely. They also are constantly monitoring their environment with sensors and sending signals back to a centralized location. These technologies allow operations to happen without a human being physically present at a site. They were already growing in popularity before the coronavirus outbreak, but they will be among the most important classes of technologies to keep things running going forward.

Extended Reality and Digital Twin Technology

Extended reality (ER) includes technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality. These are technologies that allow users to see digital representations of the real world or to see added features that enhance the real world. Digital twin technology (digital twins) allows for the creation of an exact digital duplicate of a real-world item. Users can monitor the object in real-time just like they would monitor the object itself. ER and digital twins will add an additional layer of inspection, monitoring, and control and ensure that humans can keep the world going without actually being put into harm's way.

Artificial Intelligence and Supercomputing

Artificial intelligence (AI) attempts to recreate the function of the human nervous system through the use of algorithms. AI can be used to identify categories of things that humans may not be able to recognize. AI can also recognize things faster than humans. Supercomputing invokes extremely fast computers, including quantum computers, than can make quadrillions of calculations per second. these technologies can be extremely effective tools in discovering treatments for coronavirus. For example. researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently used the Summit supercomputer to evaluate over 8,000 compounds and found 77 that could be viable.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (AM) is a type of manufacturing that creates an object by adding material a little bit at a time. A common type of AM is three-dimensional (3-D) printing, which uses a machine that typically heats a material to a high temperature and deposits this material one layer at a time until the desired product is achieved. Traditional supply chains and manufacturing have been extremely disrupted due to this recent outbreak. There is no doubt that the world be reevaluating producing capacity. AM, especially 3-D printing, has the ability to create regional supply hubs and can even allow for on-demand manufacturing in the wake of a disaster, thus minimizing disruption.

Synthetic Biology/Nanotechnology

Synthetic biology (synbio) and nanotechnology (NT) both deal with extremely small things. Synbio applies engineering principles to biological systems, and NT manipulates matter at the nanoscale (one-billionth of a meter). Each of these technologies has been explored for virus control in many capacities. For example, synbio has sets of techniques that could potentially reduce the virulence of a virus. NT has been actively researched for vaccine development, particularly influenza, but these same principles could be applied to coronavirus vaccines.

Go to www.gpncompany.com for more information on emerging technologies and how they can effectively manage the fallout of the recent coronavirus outbreak.

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