Reopening San Diego

Coronavirus Pandemic Pushes Tech to Move Into Stores and Workspaces

NBC 7 Responds found the coronavirus pandemic has pushed companies to look for new ways to use technology

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world we live in. California's stay-at-home order has now been in effect for three months. Even though some parts of the county are reopening, they may look very different. One place looking at new technologies is the retail space.

"It's really hard to bring to life products and merchandise online in a static image," said Adam Levene, the founder of HERO. "You need to consult and get the advice of an expert."

HERO provides a software that stores can use to interact directly with their online customers, just like if they were in the store.

"Sales associates had a [phone] in their hand and could chat, they could walk around the store and show the items," said Levene. "We're very bullish on using technology to empower humans rather than replace.

Two stores in San Diego are already using HERO's software, Credo Beauty and Arhaus, which are both located in Westfield UTC. Levene says 85 percent of HERO's clients were able to keep selling to customers face-to-face during the coronavirus pandemic.

As companies look for ways to keep employees safe, their new technology could also involve artificial intelligence.

"You're using artificial intelligence to select shows you might also like, or music you may also like," said Frank Speiser, the CEO of AI firm Talla. "It's all around you. It depends on which context you're looking at."

Speiser says companies are looking at AI more and more, especially as they haven't been able to have workers in an office building. That's one reason why AI systems are becoming more prevalent on customer service lines.

"It's no fun to answer the same question over and over and over," said Speiser. "I don't think that's what people are for. I think people are for thinking through ways to help each other."

Even though AI has already been around for years in the form of algorithms or call centers, Speiser thinks the pandemic will speed up how quickly companies adopt the new technology.

"It's going to necessitate the innovation that we're just starting to see peek through," said Speiser. "It's going to augment the quality of your life."

It's going to augment the quality of your life.

Frank Speiser, the CEO of AI firm Talla

Both Speiser and Levene say they want to use the technology to help enhance how people interact with businesses, not replace the workers.

"I'm a big believer in human connection and humanity. We want to connect people to people," said Levene. "People buy from people, they don't buy from robots."

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