Technological Developments Inspired By Major Crisis

By Keito Orii

When do technological advancements happen? Do they happen when there is a need? Do they randomly occur out of nowhere? There are many moments for technologies to advance and develop, but intriguingly, various technological developments which have shaped the world we live in today progressed after major crises.
It is common for many of us to only negatively perceive major catastrophes, as in difficulties, we can feel desolate. However, they have the potential to serve as the inspiration and impetus for humankind to evolve by pressing a necessity for solutions to overcome obstacles and prevent catastrophes in the future. Among the unprecedented problems that human beings have gone through, the COVID-19 pandemic is an unforgettable one for us.
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted people’s mental health by regulating and restricting us from socializing, an essential activity of being human. According to the National Institute of Health, the rate of depression among U.S. citizens has significantly increased in the past few years. The website says the rate of anxiety or depression disorder was 36% in 2019, which is the year COVID-19 initially started spreading, but a year later, the rate of anxiety and depressive disorder increased to 42.4%. The effects of social isolation have impacted the mental well-being of many individuals. Depression and other serious mental illnesses were triggered by anxiety such as loss of occupation, family, and disruption of daily lives.
Additionally, as stated in NBC News, the suicide rate has increased by four percent a year after COVID-19 became a pandemic. The severity of this issue has led to technological developments in virtual mental health services. Many people were unable to obtain the necessary help from psychologists in person, causing people to begin to find solutions.
For example, a study done by the National Institute of Mental Health stated that there were more than 100 apps developed during the pandemic to aid the public’s mental health. The study categorized the apps into two types: tracking-based apps and guidance-based apps. The tracking-based apps allowed the user to track mood, symptoms, and addiction, while the guidance-based apps guided users in mindfulness, meditation, and online therapy. The increased need for at-home therapy resulted in accessible ways for many struggling to receive treatment.
Many people are still benefiting from the consequences of COVID-19, and that is not the only traumatic event that has caused the development of meaningful technological developments. The Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan have also influenced people to evolve meaningful technological developments. I have not forgotten the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which was one of the biggest earthquakes which hit Japan about 12 years ago.
The Tohoku earthquake and the subsequent devastating tsunami have made way for significant developments in the field of drone and robot technology. The rescue and search for large numbers of people were challenging due to flooding, debris, and other obstacles caused by the earthquake and tsunami. As stated in WebJapan, the new drone technology “3rd Eye Drone System” was introduced after the Tohoku earthquake to rescue people with more efficiency and accuracy. These drones detect individuals by thermal infrared imaging and present them as three-dimensional outlines on a screen. Additionally, indicates the well-being and the health status of the rescued people, allowing for operators to bring attention to any medical procedures that are potentially needed. This data is shared to rescue and medical teams to evacuate people, allowing the medical staff to assist the injured effectively and efficiently.
Another invention created due to the earthquake is the rescue robot “Quince”. In the occurrence of a disaster, Quince searched areas that are dangerous for people to investigate, such as underground facilities, reducing the risk and need for rescue personnel to go into dangerous areas. The catastrophic earthquake which destroyed many livelihoods should undoubtedly be remembered as a tragedy. However, from such devastations, humans have adapted, and are now creating new solutions for future earthquakes and disasters in Japan.
Major catastrophes such as COVID-19 and the Tohoku earthquake have played a part in giving humans the determination and a reason to advance certain technologies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise in the rate of mental health issues such as depression led to the development of virtual health services and apps. The Tohoku earthquake promoted the technological advancements of drones and robots for the efficiency of rescuing people. Human beings have collectively and individually faced difficult situations, but with the right motivator, we can come together and create inventions that will benefit us all.
These examples not only highlight the impetus that catastrophes can potentially provide for humankind to improve and cultivate but also underline the valuable lessons of learning from challenging situations. By recognizing and understanding how we overcame these crises by harnessing the power of technology, we can preserve and change to create a better future.