Getting Closer Despite Being Further Away

Posted by Simon Jones on April 10, 2020

If it feels like today is Blursday the fourtyteenth of Maprilay (h/t to The Internet), you’re not alone. The global lockdown is...well, I want to say unprecedented, but that word doesn’t seem to mean anything any more so let’s say....unlike anything any living person has ever seen before. The various polio crises of the 20th century were probably the closest analog in the United States. Then as now, people were forced to consider social distancing (not that they’d have called it that) before Dr. Salk saved the day with his precious vaccine. Comforting fact of the day: while polio was once its own generation’s silent killer, in 2019 there were roughly 100 cases in the entire world.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has been trying to push us away from using the term ‘social distancing’ and replace it with ‘physical distancing’. Although this particular re-brand doesn’t seem to be taking off, there’s something important in here: human beings do really poorly without social contact. There’s a reason Zoom’s conferencing software may now be better known for “it has to be 5 o’clock somewhere” virtual Happy Hours than it is for dry contract negotiation conference calls.

Some of b8ta’s partners are doing great things to reduce the distance, and to put some of the emotional depth back into otherwise distanced people. And we don’t just mean with their actual products (the picture frames you can send photos to, or the little box where you can deposit virtual love notes) - some of them are stepping outside the lines to provide unconventional support.

Bissle launches a pet shelter program.

Bissell, for instance, whose Barkbath portable dog cleaner is already a fan favorite amongst those who’d rather not end up wetter than the dog they’re bathing, stepped up to support reduced adoption fees. Knowing that it was getting tougher for folks to get to shelters - and for the shelters to operate - the Bissell Pet Foundation created the empty the shelters program. This connected homeless animals, and people who needed the undeniable emotional connection of the right pet (fun fact: there’s evidence that having a pet helps people live longer). Just when hugs started to become trickier to navigate socially, Bissell provided the perfect companion to take up the slack.

ASUS donates tech to track COVID cases.

Meanwhile, ASUS, who we perhaps know best for their genuinely unique Zenbooks laptops, have been finding ways to connect both those of us huddled at home, and the medical professionals on the front line. Reminding us that the fight against Coronavirus is global ASUS recently donated smartphones and smartwatches for use in Taiwan to help track suspected cases in real-time, but with lower risk to the medical staff. Meanwhile, they continue to push the envelope in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to help everyone feel like we’re not always within the same four walls.

Putting the connection back into life is what will help us make it through the current crisis, and rev back up to full speed as the virus recedes.

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