Jos. A. Bank, Pier 1, Ann Taylor, Chuck E. Cheese…well, ok, maybe I shouldn’t include Chuck E. Cheese to this list, but the others are a few of the businesses I’m really sad to see close their doors due to the recent pandemic. (No offense to any of you who loved eating pizza under the watchful eye of the giant mouse.) Unfortunately, this is just a small list of the many businesses negatively impacted this past year. But is anyone surprised? Probably not.
We’ve all learned how to “do life” in a different way. Instead of going to Luke’s Locker for a new pair of running shoes, I find them online. Instead of going to the movie theater, we stream something on Netflix or Disney Plus. The point is, even though our lives have been greatly interrupted, technology has allowed us to carry on with most of what we need or want to do. So what does this look like going forward?
Many of us have now grown accustomed to using chat boxes when we have questions about a purchase being made online and have used augmented reality to “try on” something we are considering buying over the internet. Whether we want to see which glasses look best on our face or what paint color we should choose for the kitchen, augmented reality has already come a long way and is certain to make considerable improvements in the days ahead.
And that is made possible because of Wi-Fi technology. Although some homes experienced slower than normal internet speeds in the past months due to its large number of users, Wi-Fi technology is only going to get better. Newer routers will include Wi-Fi 6, a new networking standard. This won’t affect the speed, but will do a better job at dispensing bandwidth to multiple devices at the same time. How many times have you heard someone in your house yell that someone else is “hogging all the internet”? Wi-Fi 6 addresses that problem. So if someone is streaming a movie while someone else is playing an online game, you don’t have to worry about losing your internet connection while having that important company ZOOM meeting.
And that’s another area to anticipate improvements, virtual reality in the office. With better software and the advancements made in the technology of headsets, it isn’t unthinkable for the hologram form of your coworker in another state to be sitting across the table from you at a business meeting. Even as we go back into the office, these VR platforms can be a great way to conduct business with people miles away. Who knows how quickly Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 or Microsoft’s Altspace VR will make their way into the conference room, but quite honestly, I’m looking forward to face-to-face interactions with as many people as I can find.
I’m thankful I can now walk into a store and look directly into the eyes of the person who is helping me choose the most comfortable pair of loafers. And even though I’m heartbroken for the stores I love to no longer be in business, I’m grateful technology has afforded me an opportunity to keep doing what I needed, and for the most part, wanted to do this past year.
But I still won’t be missing Chuck E. Cheese.