Malls reopening on Sunday has brought with it many curious things, besides the possibility of selling your privacy to the govt just to get in, multiple checking-in-and-out you need to do while hitting different shops and cardboard dragons as your new dining companions. While strolling and practising social distancing, one may also come across innovations that have been put in place as part of the new shopping norm. It seems like major malls are trying to get one up on each other in terms of high-tech measures against Covid-19 to put shoppers’ minds at ease. At the risk of sounding like a mall maniac (and being a free ad for malls), here are a few examples of technology spotted at various mall reopenings for your curiosity. Their effectiveness against Covid-19 (or originality) may not be guaranteed but their gimmicky effect is.
At least two major malls have introduced robots to help monitor us humans. Siam Paragon has two robots from True, namely the True 5G Temi Thermal ScanBot and True 5G PatrolBot. The former is self-explanatory as it checks your temperature with a screen that looks like Predator vision and sends an alert when someone’s temperature is higher than 37.5°C. It’s also equipped with an automatic hand sanitiser dispenser. The latter tirelessly patrols the area to detect those without masks through face-detection technology and warns them. CentralWorld employs Robot for Care (ROC) and AIS K9 by AIS. ROC screens people’s temperature before they enter. This model has helped medical personnel treat Covid-19 patients at hospitals. K9, my personal favourite, is a “good boy” robot that walks around to provide shoppers with hand sanitiser. Petting it is a bit rough, though. I know their duty is redundant since everyone and their mother are told to wear a mask and have their temperature checked before going in but, hey, they help brighten up mall reopenings, OK?
Pushing elevator buttons with a toothpick to avoid Covid-19 is the old new normal. The new new normal is using an elevator without touching anything. This touchless lift panel is at CentralFestival Eastville. You just place a finger over a sensor box to summon an elevator and while inside, place a finger over another sensor box above the floor number you want to go to. Seacon Square has a similar idea but requires the use of a foot instead. Foot panels that light up have been installed inside their lifts. Users can open or close the lift or go to the floor by pressing buttons with their feet instead of using their fingers.
We’re living in the age of disinfecting everything. Walk-through disinfection machines for shoes have been installed at Siam Paragon and Iconsiam. These machines spray the shoes as you walk through. Duh. A box at CentralWorld claims to be able to disinfect your shopping bags within a minute using UVC to ensure that you won’t take any germs back home. Similar boxes can be found at The Mall department stores. I’m waiting for another type of box for germophobes who may want to stand inside to disinfect their entire bodies before going in and out of malls.
Escalator handrails are one of many contact points that can be hotbeds for germs. Sure, a cleaning lady can stand at one end of an escalator while pressing a cloth soaked in chemicals on a rotating handrail to clean it but there’s a subtler and cooler way. This handrail UV steriliser by Clearwin is installed at Central Chidlom. The same machine can be founded at escalator handrails in Hong Kong, too. The maker claims it uses “Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation” as a disinfection method and has a self-generating power system. Now that you can safely put on your hand on the handrail for support, don’t forget to leave a step or two between you and the person in front while on an escalator. Standing side by side with your significant other is (even more) frowned upon. That was the pre-Covid-19 world!