Innovations Created By the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 22, 2020 George Hilliard

As I’m writing this, we are still stuck in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S. and frankly, depending on which “expert” you believe, we could be back to normal in anywhere from a month or two to many, many months. Here in Texas, where WINSYSTEMS is headquartered, they just announced that schools are shutdown at least until the end of the school year and graduations are being rescheduled for June or July. But honestly, no one knows for sure when things will return to some semblance of business as usual.

The majority of companies and small businesses have been and will continue to be negatively impacted and unfortunately, some will not make it to through this crisis and reemerge as a viable business.

Being a “glass is half full” person, I can see lots of innovation coming out of this crisis, starting with our teachers, who are adapting and re-developing curriculums to move them completely on-line. I’ve seen this occurring from pre-school up through college. The professionalism displayed continues to amaze me.

People that generally work in an office environment have figured out how to work from home, thanks to a variety of tools. In some cases, they are “closer” to their fellow employees than when they sat in the same building. They likely know more about them personally, seeing their families, their pets, and the insides of their homes.

Even your traditional dine-in restaurants are pivoting to use technology to enable deliveries and make-shift drive throughs, as they desperately try to keep their businesses and jobs intact. You could definitely say that necessity drives innovation.

Looking into the future, can we define any technologies that will be accelerated by the global crisis? Artificial intelligent (AI) is sure to be one. For example, temperature scanning and alerts are already available, but I expect these technologies to be improved and more prevalent at mass gatherings. When you add AI and some of the latest visual computing techniques into the mix, scanning can be done with or without the knowledge of the individual, say at the entrance to a large gathering.

Inference engines such as Intel’s Movidius and Google’s TPU are being paired with vision systems and embedded computers to monitor for social distancing and surveillance of businesses.

In addition to 4 Gbytes of LPDDR4 RAM, the ITX-P-C444 SBC boasts an NXP i.MX8M industrial processor with an Arm Cortex A63 as well as an Arm Cortex M4.

One such single board computer (SBC) that can handle surveillance applications is the WINSYSTEMS ITX-P-C444 industrial Pico-ITX SBC. The board is based on NXP’s i.MX8M applications processor, which is suited for video processing and contains dual Ethernet, industrial I/O, and other expansion options. The optional BSP for Qt Embedded provides a path for rapid application development. 

Then there’s the continued evolution of Edge, Fog, and Cloud computing. The latest embedded platforms are far better equipped to track people, their illnesses, and any other pertinent information. In these platforms, security is the highest priority.

Basically, the Edge devices with AI capabilities gather data on patients, including whether they have attended a large gathering or traveled outside their home region. The Fog is used for on-premise processing where it makes sense to do so. And the Cloud collects and analyzes all this information, and potentially provides near real time monitoring across the globe.

Designed with Intel’s Atom Apollo Lake-I E3900 processor, the SBC35-427 SBC is well suited for industrial IoT applications.

One industrial SBC that can assist in this endeavor is the WINSYSTEMS SBC35-427. Designed with Intel’s Apollo Lake-I E3900 series processor, it offers a host of expansion and configuration options, Hence, it’s a great fit for industrial IoT applications.

The coming weeks and months will see significant changes in the world. And as the world changes, embedded computers and technology adapt to meet those needs. Here at WINSYSTEMS, we are already seeing an influx of design activity. We’re pleased that our technology can be used for the betterment of the world through this crisis.

About the Author

George Thomas “G.T.” Hilliard joined WINSYSTEMS in 1994 and has over 25 years of professional experience assisting clients to solve technical challenges. George has a BS in Electronic Engineering Technology and previously worked at a Fortune 500 company where he provided technical support for industrial control and sortation systems. Starting as an Application Engineer, George now leads the sales and marketing departments where he continues to enjoy supporting clients in solving technical and business challenges.

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