5 tech innovations helping businesses reopen safely

1. Touchless drinks dispensing (Sestra Systems)

Virginia-based tech company Sestra, which delivers cloud-connected dispensing solutions to the hospitality industry, has added a touch-free tap to its offering. The sophisticated sensor detects and analyses both objects and movement, allowing it to prevent passing traffic from triggering accidental dispensing.

When combined with Sestra's integrated payment solution, the system can offer a full socially distanced self-serve drinks station.

2. Table service software (TableDrop)

UK software firm TableDrop has launched an app that allows restaurant and bar customers to place their orders right at their table - maximising social distancing by eliminating the need to queue at the bar. TableDrop's software uses location data to automatically load the menu for the TableDrop venue the customer is in, which is input by the venue's owner or manager.

The Wetherspoons pub chain is similarly promoting social distancing by encouraging customers to order via Wetherspoons's own app.

3. Footfall monitoring and management

Since social distancing began, all retailers and venues have faced the challenge of keeping customers apart. Many have used simple offline measures such as floor markings and door attendants. But others are taking advantage of new and existing tech.

For instance, nationwide shopping centre network Intu has repurposed its footfall-tracking technology - formerly used purely to count and monitor customers - to help it enforce customer limits.

Another example is Aldi, which installed automated traffic light systems at the entrance to its stores in May. The discount supermarket chain subsequently announced in July that the system will be upgraded to help shoppers with hearing or sight impairments, as well as adding a visual display estimating the waiting time - making the interface even more user-friendly.

4. Antibacterial decor (Garbelotto)

Italian manufacturer Garbelotto is now offering all its wooden flooring with a finish called Silver Defence, which uses silver ions to eliminate bacterial populations within 24 hours and also prevent their reproduction. We could also soon be seeing a surge in the use of antimicrobial paints and wall coatings to help improve surface hygiene in bars, restaurants and cafes.

5. Wardrobe purifier (Pura-Case)

Now, this one's still in Kickstarter phase and is currently aimed at the domestic market. But we could foresee a time when pubs, bars and restaurants may provide a coat check service, using the Pura-Case wardrobe purifier to sansitise your clothes 'while u wait'. The system uses ozone to help remove most micro-organisms, germs and smells from clothes - all while protecting the quality of the material.

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