Humans have always been resilient in the face of adversity. The will to survive had been encoded within our DNA since the time when we took our first breath. It is this tenacity that brought us great innovations throughout our lives, from the invention of the wheel to the development of Covid-19 vaccine, Homo sapiens are truly an ingenious species designed to withstand the harshest conditions.
Take for example the creation of the Covid-19 vaccine, if it’s not for the urgency and sudden crippling of the economy, it would take roughly ten years before it is given the green light and administered to anyone. Scientists around the world worked round the clock to decode the virus’ genetic makeup so that they can proceed on to the next stage as soon as possible. Also joining in the fight against the malicious virus is the international community—in the form of monetary and emotional support.
It is during difficult times like these that humankind is most innovative with their solutions given the myriad of restrictions imposed by the authorities. One such innovation is the creation of masks with a clear plastic window over the mouth, while it might not seem like a revolutionary invention, this new type of mask is a godsend for the deaf community as the ordinary marks cover lips, making it impossible to lip-read. Another interesting invention, born out of the need to maintain social distancing, is the birth of a robot dog, programmed to remind pedestrians of the need to be apart from each other. Robots have been at the forefront of battling the current pandemic, from using them to do deliveries as seen in countries like Britain and the U.S to caring for patients in hospitals, thus protecting and freeing up medical workers.
In a more recent development, a team in the Netherlands have created the world’s first Urban Sun, designed to sanitise public spaces of coronavirus and ultimately, “[combat] the negative impact of social isolation by aiming to improve cultural gatherings, sporting events, public squares, and schoolyards,” says Studio Roosegaarde, the creator of Urban Sun.
Harnessing the power of light to kill bacteria and virus is a common practice amongst those working in the medical sector. But the sanitisation process would exclude any humans because the light source, UV light, can be harmful when exposed for an extended period of time. This isn’t the case for Urban Light, which uses new far-UVC light to kill pathogens safely. In-depth studies have been conducted in designing Urban Sun, and the specific light used has met the safety standards required, hence, the project is considered safe for execution.
Speaking of this new project, the president of the Council of the Public Health & Society Board, Jet Bussemaker, says, “It is inspiring. People are tired of [Covid-19]. What we need is courage to find new solutions, to get in touch with each other, and create some intimacy. That is what Urban Sun is doing.”
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “We acquire the strength we have overcome.” I believe this is an apt description of our current situation with the pandemic. It is through ordeals such as this that we uncover our hidden potential and the strength to push through and come out stronger than before. Innovation is integral in steering our society forward, beyond just creating new and novel ways of doing things, what is important is the process of breaking the chains of convention, and taking that giant leap of progress.