Separate, but United

August, 2020

With COVID-19 keeping people physically separated, the need to safely socialize is integral to the collective wellbeing and mental health of all. As we’ve seen with our macrotrend CTRL+ALT+CREATE, the impulse to evolve from old to new is stronger than ever.

Especially during the pandemic, people are applying their ingenuity to new ideas, alternative methods, and “better for you” innovations that allow for safe socialization. For one, people are itching for the return of live sports and new solutions are sprouting for fans. While large stadium gatherings aren’t feasible yet, the NBA found a $170 million workaround to keep the game alive. The league reimagined games by isolating all necessary participants in the “bubble” of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex within Disney World. Going even further, 320 fans per game can join in by filling virtual seats via Microsoft Teams – 17-foot-tall video boards that wrap the court. Virtual fans are encouraged to cheer and chant, adding atmosphere to the games.

Despite mandated distance, people still find alternative ways to cement their love for one another, too. For love birds determined to tie the knot in 2020, Australian company I Do Drive Thru Weddings officiates personalized pandemic proof ceremonies. The brand’s bare-boned offering of officiating – along with a la carte “extras” like vintage car rental, live stream, and photographer – efficiently minimizes the hassle of wedding planning and close contact with others.

Life-changing milestones aren’t the only events that  spark joy in these times. Simply dining out is getting a makeover  with QR codes flourishing as a seamless and contactless remedy. QR scanning technology on all smart phones means this simple tool provides an alternative for commonly mass-handled objects like menus and payment screens to drink machines. Coca-Cola freestyle machines now queue up saved drink orders through the connected Freestyle app!

Brands can creatively problem solve, too. Fashion and retail brands could reinvent the in-store shopping experience to be a therapeutic and futuristic escape. Let shoppers peruse the store and virtually try on mass-touched items like sunglasses or shoes through augmented reality filters activated by product-specific QR codes. Then, shoppers can scan item QR codes, add directly to ecommerce carts via the brand’s smartphone app, and purchase on the spot. Minimum touchpoints, maximum efficiency.

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