The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true.
James Branch Cabell
As I begin to write this article, the above quote from James Cabell, that I heard in Steven West’s Philosophize This podcast, is ringing in my head. Keeping aside such dystopian philosophical thoughts, lets get back on the topic. As the world continues to deal with the first post-WWII modern era global pandemic, things are slowly setting down into their new forms. Whether these forms are permanent or transient, only time will tell. Pandemics by their very nature tend to be multi year affairs. Whether in this case, that can be successfully reduced to a single year using the miracles of modern medicine, remains to be seen.
What is probably not going to change are some of new ways of doing things, leveraging the latest communication technologies. And the technology is rapidly evolving in all areas: medicine, connectivity, finance, commerce, governance, education and other areas. Some technologies are getting de-prioritized, such as sharing and travel related, while some technologies are seeing huge growths. One such area, I believe will be in home appliances and devices. Especially in an emerging market like India.
Indian’s traditionally depended on hired help in getting through the daily chores at home. Covid-19 has put paid to that. We are probably going to see a Cambrian explosion of appliances and devices that help the typical middle-class city dweller through their stay at home. Devices which were considered of little utility in daily life, are suddenly flying off the shelves – dishwaters, clothes dryers, robot vacuum cleaners et c. Similarly, streaming devices, large screen televisions, laptops, UPS for WiFi routers are growing in popularity.
Some of these devices may not have evolved for use in Indian conditions. But this will change. As multiple companies start competing in these markets, product feature differentiation is going to drive market share adoption.
Here is my prediction, product lines to watch out for over the next few year: household appliances – larger refrigerators, larger televisions, power and water optimized dish washers and clothes dryers and robot vacuum cleaners suited to Indian floors. Indian cities are typically water challenged and water optimization will be critical.
Personal digital devices will evolve to monitor oxygen saturation, built-in thermometers, blood pressure monitors and other features to monitor the well being of individuals.
Many OEM device makers will provide out of the box cloud connected health monitoring and reporting services. They might even integrate with national vaccination programs and provide localized outbreak alerts. Apps like Arogya Setu might even come factory installed.
Overall appliances will have better self-service and self-maintenance modes as customers start avoiding inviting technicians in to their homes for regular service and upkeep. They will be Designed for Service by the end user.
We will see further innovation on home immunization devices such as UV sterilization units and air purification units. HVACs for offices will now need to be equipped with filters that can eliminate air borne infectious agents.
Human civilization will no doubt overcome this challenge, and like always, it will think and innovate its way out of this crisis. If you are an optimist, as I am, you will be as excited as I am to see what innovations will come out of this huge disruption in human life.
About a day after I first posted this, news started appearing about a nationally integrated digital health id system. Prime minister Modi formally announced it on India’s 73rd Independence Day on 15/08/2020. We will only see further innovation driven by need of the circumstances.