Immediately after the pandemic
The pandemic led to an increase in campaigns encouraging people to be more hygienic, promoting hand-washing, face covering and avoiding close contact with anyone who has flu-like symptoms. This advice suddenly became part of our daily lives. In France and Italy, where kissing is a form of greeting, governments encouraged people to use an elbow bump as an alternative.
Toward a post-COVID-19 society
As COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to increase worldwide, society developed a fear of contamination and became obsessed with hygiene and personal protective equipment (PPE). Face masks, hand sanitisers and gloves became popular as people started excessively stocking their homes with these products. Most countries experienced shortages and hospitals were forced to use inadequate alternatives, which increased the risk of infection. In response, some individuals and companies created new businesses or reshaped existing activities quickly enough to support production of much-needed PPE. People rapidly gained literacy and awareness of the importance of hygiene and its effect on the spread of viruses. As time passed, badly affected countries introduced mandatory mask wearing outside the home environment. People quickly realised the impact of ‘single-use medical masks’ on the environment and started making their own.
Hygienic using technology
People will become hypersensitive to hygiene and will want more visibility of hygiene measures if they are to trust services. Communication and awareness of hygiene status will be important for the use of a shared space/service. A hygiene rating score for restaurants and hotels will evolve as customers will expect hygiene status to be communicated in a more visual and detailed way. Additional personal protection will be used during this transition. Companies and start-ups worldwide have already started exploring new solutions within hygiene and safety regulations.
Many solutions will emerge on the market to help monitor hygiene, and control and disinfect public spaces. Products such as air conditioning, hand driers and other equipment will be investigated to understand their effects on virus transmission. Technology such as UV lighting will be introduced in various shapes and sizes to support hygienic living. To mitigate future pandemics, development of robots and automated delivery will continue.
In summer 2020, most countries worldwide introduced strategies in which regulations such as social distancing and mask-wearing must be followed to support a return to ”normal”. However, these have had to be taken more seriously during the second wave of the pandemic. As people adopt new hygienic and social distancing behaviours, we start to see new trends in fashion, such as personalised masks and other face coverings. More creative individuals are adding labels, emojis and pictures from cartoons to demonstrate their status, beliefs and sense of humour. We also see designs for practical tools such as keyrings, which help to open/close/press things without human contact, and devices to maintain social distancing.
These trends brought side-effects. Everyday technology such as face recognition becomes inconvenient, so people revert to less secure passcode systems. Communication while wearing masks is tricky too, not just for deaf people but also for non-native speakers who have difficulty understanding what has been said. Furthermore, people struggle to show friendliness while interacting, so try to smile with their eyes. These issues opened up potential opportunities for future businesses making personal protective equipment. Some hospitality businesses, for example, use transparent face shields, which make it easier for customers to understand staff and read their facial expressions.