New tech trends accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic

We are all part of generation Zoom by now. But what other technological trends has the pandemic pushed forward?

18 January 2021

A futuristic tunnel corridor with neon glowing lights, a  3D rendering background wallpaper

By Mariusz Bogacki, Researcher and Science Communicator, Edinburgh

Throughout 2020 we’ve all gotten used to online Zoom meetings, new communication apps and live streaming of events and conferences. Cashless payments as well as online deliveries have also solidified their places in modern society. Yet, communication and digital payments services are only the tip of the iceberg of the technologically driven ‘new normal’. Here are some other fast developing tech trends that might have escaped your attention.

Robots are back!

Earlier this year we reported on the promising implementations of Eco-Robots – unmanned machines working with and for the environment. Over the course of the past year, the application of robotic solutions has proven of critical importance. In an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19, drones were used in many cities to deliver medical supplies to districts under lockdown, while autonomous delivery vehicles brought groceries to people undergoing quarantine in hotels. In hospitals, autonomous mobile systems disinfected facilities in wards and corridors. These robotic solutions have been in development for a number of years now, but the pandemic has provided a strong push for more research into the application of robotics in everyday life.


The term might sound like something from an 80s sci-fi movie, but the applications and possibilities of this growing industry truly are futuristic. Telehealth – or telemedicine – is the distribution of health-related services via telecommunication technologies. The infrastructure is already here: smartwatches can monitor blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature; smartphone microphones analyse cough and determine illnesses such as pneumonia; the latest Apple Watch is even capable of generating accurate ECG tests. Data collected through these devices can then be fed to a local GP who will connect for an e-visit using a secure teleconference connection. Telehealth has proven life-saving in our current virus-ridden world, and doing so has managed to tackle one of its main challenges: convincing people that telehealth is as effective as physical health care.

Cloud computing

“Home schooling”, “home entertainment” or “working from home” (WFH) became some of the buzz words of 2020, and cloud computing, which makes all of these trends possible, consolidated its importance and relevance in our contemporary societies. Software has been moving away from the one-size-fits-all standard for a while, but the pandemic accelerated the superiority of individualised and continuously evolving sets of software packages. Subscription is the marketing engine that allows companies to monetize on these cloud-based systems. It also allows developers and producers to customise their services according to the needs of a cultivated and stable customer base. And with the arrival and spread of 5G networks there’s no turning back on the future of personal and collaborative computing.

The pandemic has undoubtedly increased the number of people who rely on, and have become more comfortable with, technological innovations and online solutions. Perhaps one of the biggest changes caused by the pandemic will be the societal acceptance of tech - It seems like the ‘new normal’ will be a lot more automated and digital.