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The post-COVID world through a designers lens

The future is here 😎. Not the one we quite anticipated but the one we feared, and never cared enough to prevent 😵. Here is what I think the future will be like for the world and what it might mean for us designers.


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Jishnu Hari

5 months ago | 5 min read
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The future is here 😎. Not the one we quite anticipated but the one we feared, and never cared enough to prevent 😵. Here is what I think the future will be like for the world and what it might mean for us designers.

🏃‍ Rapid Response Design Teams? Yes, please!

What spreads faster than a virus in this digital age? That’s right! Misinformation

During unexpected times like these, everyone is confused, including the government. Lack of information isn’t the problem. Rather it’s getting the right information to the right people at the right time. There is an acute need for standardized, consistent, and effective information design.

The worlds mightiest armies have proved ineffective in this war against a virus. I think we now need a different kind of army. An army of volunteer designers armed with our weapon of choice, Design Thinking, ready at a moment’s notice to assist the authorities in formulating the right kind of messaging that would create trust and keep panic at bay. (Anyone rounding up volunteers for a design squad like this? Sign me up 🙋)

For the current crisis, the UK can be considered a role model. The UK govt took advantage of the Rule of 3 to design a clear and consistent message, “Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.” People received texts, got emails, and saw posters on the street with this simple messaging, all of which has proved to be very effective. Now that the lockdown has been relaxed, the UK govt has updated the slogan to “Stay alert. Control the virus. Save lives.”

🙌 Contactless tech

Me: How many of you have recently sprayed toilet seat sanitizing spray on to the ATM keypad before using it?Nobody:Me: 🙋‍♂️

Any form of physical contact, with a device, another human or even your own face is strictly taboo🙅 during a pandemic. But to touch is to be human. How can we not do it?

The best way to not do something is to not have that thing. Period. Want to stay away from sugar? Don’t buy sugar. Want people to stop touching stuff, make things that don’t need to be touched. Companies are now forced to get creative and reinvent themselves to thrive in this new touch-fearing world.

Zomato has curated a way to offer a simple touchless dining experience using existing tech. Creative 🤓

Just gestures

So far gestures were used simply as a marketing gimmick with no real value add. Remember when Samsung Galaxy S4 came up with ‘Air View’? Well, I do because I got that phone for that very reason. It was super exciting! For a week. For the next 4 years, the feature existed like the overly-ignored back of your wardrobe. Check out this video and prepare to be mind-blown 🤯. (This was back in 2013)

Then there was Google Soli (a tiny chip that tracks your motion on a microscopic scale), an ambitious google project that never took off. But rumour has it that the long-awaited google pixel watch will be making use of the Soli chips to provide some interesting interactions to its user.

Companies can now think of more use cases than they actually had to ‘makeup’ earlier. I’m sure we will soon start to see these technologies advancing and being available for widespread use in the coming years. Maybe even months 😃.

The Voice will rise

For years companies have hyped voice technology as a marketing game-changer. Still, even as the number of consumers using audio on smart speakers rises, voice has remained a minor player for uses like shopping and healthcare. All this might change in the coming months.

A Capgemini survey found that 59% of global consumers would rather use voice interfaces in public places to avoid touching

😎 AR/VR will mimic real experiences

With travelling now being a not so ideal habit, how would people get around for pleasure, work or simply get things done?

AR/VR might be the answer to this, allowing us to have the experiences we want even if we have to be isolated, quarantined, or alone.

AR/VR for Services

With people getting wearier of people, your friendly neighbourhood electrician might no longer be welcome. Self-service might become the new norm aided by AR/VR tech. There are already companies like TechSeeBlitzzFabrik etc. working on solving this. Thanks to the current situation, these startups will find it a little easier to convince stakeholders to adopt AR and VR to empower their workforce and keep their customers happy.

AR/VR Events and launches

One Plus recently organised the world’s first AR launch where users got an AR experience of the new smartphone, The ‘One Plus Nord’. We can expect to see many more events in AR/VR in the coming days.

Daily life augmented

So far AR/VR hasn’t quite captured the masses. But all this might be about to change with the upcoming ‘Apple Glasses’, Apple’s elusive AR lenses project. The lenses will presumably allow apps to project digital graphics into the wearer’s line of sight. I wonder what life would be like looking through these glasses. 🤔 News says that the glasses have passed the prototype stage and has now entered trial production.

Apple is cool, but let’s not forget India’s upcoming Jio glasses. Jio glasses, if it stays true to its promise of being pocket friendly and technically advanced, maybe the bridge to widespread adoption of AR in India. And, who knows, maybe even the world 🌐.

🤖 Robots anyone?

Overnight, the robotics industry has discovered new use cases in cleaning, healthcare, and other key industries. Take two of the world’s most famous bots: SoftBank’s Pepper and Boston Dynamic’s Spot.

Robo nurses

Pepper, a while ago, was kind of a robot office greeter. But now Pepper is being used in medical situations to greet people and interact with patients in isolation/quarantine and keep them company.

Robo dogs

Then there’s Spot (Boston Dynamics’s robot dog) who, on the other hand, wanders around a popular park in Singapore, enforcing social distancing rules. The robot, which has sensors and a 360-degree camera, is steered around the park remotely and uses its built-in speaker to play a recorded message when it comes across people defying social distancing rules.

Flying drones

Thanks to the virus, the CAAs (Civil Aviation Authority) in the UK, India, and Sri Lanka are relaxing rules and making it easier to deploy drones in response to the pandemic to deliver goods and cargo.

🤔 Final thoughts…

Years worth of tech advances has happened in a matter of months. Remember when this happened the last time? World War 2!

WW2 ushered in a new technological revolution. Although the war was a terrible period in human history, it pushed and developed inventions at a rate that has never been matched. Conflicts have a way of creating needs or problems that must be solved. Doesn’t matter if the conflict is with a human, a country or a virus. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of all inventions”

Some notable inventions thanks to WW2 include pressurized flight cabins, radio navigation, synthetic rubber, nuclear power and the most dynamite invention of all, computers 💻.

The upcoming wave of advancements due to the current COVID situation opens up a lot more opportunities for us designers (or whatever profession you are in 🤓). But these opportunities won’t present themselves if we are not prepared. It’s like they say “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

So do yourself a favour, use this long, covidful vacation to upskill yourself and get lucky :D

Feel free to add to this list. Just drop me your thoughts in the comments.

🙋🏽‍♂️ Let’s be friends! Follow me on TwitterDribbble and connect with me on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to follow me here on Medium as well for more design-related content.

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Jishnu Hari

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Product Designer

Product designer. Uncontrollably curious about the humankind and mind.


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