COVID-19, Future Cities & Community Development, USA

What would the "New Normal" Look like? We look at some COVID-19 Inspired Innovations.

While nobody knows whether we are though this Pandemic yet or not – one thing we are certain of is that many things will change as we emerge from 2020. We take a look at some of the new Innovations that are shaping the “new Normal”

  1. Lidl helps their patrons find the quietest shopping hours:

    Budget supermarket Lidl is offering its customers in Ireland the chance to find a quieter time to shop, thanks to its new online chatbot. Customers simply send a message to Lidl through WhatsApp and the chatbot will reply with some useful insights.


    “Just send a message with the day and time you intend to visit and it’ll instantly let you know whether that’s a Quieter/Average/Busier time to visit,” said the shop in a post on its LinkedIn page. “We’ve analyzed our shopper behavior over the past couple of weeks to find the quietest time to head into the store.

    “This innovative approach uses real-time data and customer transaction numbers to determine which hours of the day are quietest to visit and which are busiest, allowing for customers to plan their shopping trips accordingly.”

  2. Pool Noodles for Social Distancing:

    This is one COVID-19 innovation that is sure to turn heads. Customers at the popular Cafe & Konditorei Rothe in Schwerin, Germany, were pictured last month wearing hats with pool noodles attached to them.

    The cafe went viral on Twitter after pictures emerged of customers enjoying the sun at pavement tables with colorful new headwear. These long foam water toys make it difficult for customers to get within six feet of each other.

    However, it later turned out that the funny hats were the idea of German broadcaster RTL, who wanted to see how people reacted when asked to put them on by the cafe owner. While Germany has one of the lowest death tolls in Europe, under 9000, this shows that efforts to maintain social distancing are still underway…with sometimes amusing results.

  3. Virtual holidays on Animal Crossing:

    Creative Agency BBH has come up with a way for guests to visit Singapore’s Sentosa Island virtually, using the popular Nintendo game Animal Crossing. The ‘Sentosa Crossing’ branded virtual experience allows people to experience the holiday destination while staying safe in their own homes. It includes landmarks and attractions from the island.

    “Through our virtual offerings, we would like to encourage everyone to make time for an “island getaway” during these challenging times, as a break is important for one’s mental wellbeing”, said Lynette Ang, Chief Marketing Officer, Sentosa Development Corporation

    The digital replica of Sentosa Island features specific details, landmarks, and attractions. Visitors’ avatars can enjoy beach yoga, music festivals, and beach bars. They can also go on nature trails and more as they explore the island.

  4. PPE on the go:

    The availability of personal protective equipment has been making headlines throughout the pandemic. Now, Selecta, a provider of vending solutions, has come up with a new COVID-19 innovation to help people get their hands on these items.



    The company’s new ‘Safety Stations’ are vending machines designed to supply

    essentials such as face mask and sanitizer. Zurich Airport in Switzerland and Brussels train station in Belgium are among the first venues to offer the machines. This enables travelers to access the materials that they may need to feel safe on their journey.

    Managing Director of Selecta Belgium, Tim Goossens said: “As our economy is slowly restarting, it is important to us that we’re able to respond to our customers’ changing needs. These products and services enable us to do that.

    “The Safety Station is a great example, allowing consumers to access necessary equipment 24/7 in an easy and safe way. We are delighted to be able to support our clients and partners this way during these challenging times.”

  5. Enjoying concerts at a distance:

    When the COVID-19 lockdowns first began around the world, several events such as concerts went virtual. But now that regulations are being relaxed in some areas, what happens when fans want a real-life experience without the crowds?

    The answer that seems to be popping up around the world is drive-in

    The answer that seems to be popping up around the world is drive-in concerts. Audience members simply turn up to the gig in their cars and park in rows. Then they tune in to their FM radio where the music is broadcast through a limited frequency. Instead of cheering and clapping, audiences have been encouraged to beep their horns in support.

    One of the first big musicians to hold such a concert was Keith Urban. He held a secret drive-in concert near Nashville, USA, last month to thank healthcare workers. Urban spoke about the concept in an interview with Billboard: “The connections between all of us is the one thing we can maintain through this. We may do it a different way, but we can absolutely maintain a sense of connection.”

  6. Socially distanced restaurant tables:

    One restaurant in Maryland, USA, has introduced a fun new coronavirus invention. This is designed to help its customers maintain appropriate distances from each other. Fish Tales Bar & Grill in Ocean City is now using ‘bumper tables’, which use a large inner tube to keep diners apart.

    The custom-built bumper tables are on wheels. This means they can be used by customers to enjoy food and drink as they socialize in the car park or bar area.

    Owners Shawn and Donna Harman spoke to CNN about the innovative idea. “I mean, it’s a novelty, it’s cool. It’s a great photo opportunity for them,” said Shawn. “If you put the two tables together, you can’t get within 6 feet of each other — and it’s fun,” added Donna.

  7. Taking distancing cues from the carpet:

    Global floorcovering company Milliken has also come up with a COVID-19 innovation: carpet tiles that aid social distancing.  Its new Social Factor carpet tiles are designed to help people to maintain physical distancing while at work.

    The tiles include eyecatching graphics such as arrows and footprints. These can assist businesses in keeping social distancing guidelines and directing the way that people move around their venues.

    “Social Factor brings safety messages to life with lively and imaginative design treatments created to promote a spirit of positivity and commitment to a safe and healthy workplace,” says the Milliken website. “Employees will demand a safe workplace. They felt secure and protected in their homes, they will want to feel equally safe when they return to the workplace.”


Watch this space for more COVID-19 Related Innovations!

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