The coronavirus pandemic is absolutely one of the biggest crises - and greatest tragedies - of this generation.
But trouble also spurs action - so new ways of thinking tackle new threats like COVID-19.
And more than any other, one word characterizes these new ideas.
I'm talking about "innovation."
Now, I don't think there's any doubt among scientists, doctors, and drug executives that COVID-19 has created a huge paradigm shift.
The pandemic is prompting company executives, researchers, government officials, and medical scientists to seek new ways to do things - as well as the technologies that can fuel those new approaches.
The bottom line: All these folks are looking to use existing technologies to tamp down on the coronavirus pandemic.
And once they've succeeded - as they will - these new ways of doing things will mostly be here to stay.
That means the technologies that made this all possible will be major beneficiaries going forward.
Three areas of technology stand to be the biggest winners of all.
Today, I'm going to show you those three winners. All told, the three segments I want to walk you through today are on their way to being worth more than $70 billion on a global basis.
And I'm also going to detail three investments that will allow you to ride these new tech waves - and profit - in an equally meaningful way.
Pandemic Tech Winner No. 1: Robotics and Automation
Even before the coronavirus first broke out in China last December, robotics and automation technologies were on the rise.
In warehouses, automation has become a key element of inventory and supply-chain management. Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is probably the best-known example of this in the retail/industrial complex.
Originally just a logistics technology, automation/robotics has become a COVID killer - because even in a warehouse, its task-performing capabilities reduce the number of needed human "touches" - and, thus, the opportunities for infection.
Amid the pandemic, automation has proliferated to other realms, too.
Medical robots and automated pharmacy management are embracing this know-how. The fact is that medical robots are a fairly wide field. Some uses are pretty basic, like delivering drugs and documents. Other are more advanced, such as precision surgery.
But the dangers that COVID-19 poses to plant workers, healthcare employees, and even medical patients will rev up adoption. Robots are a now a key part in the fight to prevent the spread of the virus.
According to the BBC, demand for disinfecting robots, which use a zap of ultraviolet light to kill microbes, has skyrocketed since the escalation of the coronavirus.
And this adoption is global in scope.
UVD Robots, a Denmark-based company, says its production time has been sped up to the point where it takes less than a day to make a robot.
U.S.-based Xenex has supplied LightStrike (its disinfecting robot) to more than 500 healthcare facilities. Some are using the machine to sanitize hospital rooms where coronavirus patients received treatment.
China is currently the highest spender on robotics systems and drones. COVID-19 has spurred further innovation for the nation and a higher adoption of new technologies to combat the disease.
A startup called YouiBot has quickly pivoted its autonomous robots into a disinfection device. YouiBot has already equipped factories, offices, an airport, and a hospital in Wuhan.
In the meantime, automated pharmacies will also get a lift. They not only help reduce prescription errors, but they serve as a force multiplier for beleaguered pharmacists in the midst of a medical crisis.
Clearly, there are different slices of the robotics and automation markets - and covering them all would require a detailed report. But let's look at the potential of some of the pieces. According to MarketsandMarkets Research, the pharmacy automation market will grow at about 8.2% a year - reaching $5.38 billion by 2022.
The industrial market will grow even faster: From a $16.5 billion base in 2018, expect that market to grow at a 12% clip through 2022.
One solid way to establish an investment foundation in this promising slice of the market is via the Global Robotics and Automation Index ETF (NYSE: ROBO). Some key holdings include Keyence Corp., Harmonic Drive Systems Inc., and Cognex Corp.
The ETF has been around since late 2013, and it has a 0.95% expense ratio.
Pandemic Winner No. 2: Artificial Intelligence
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, artificial intelligence (AI) had taken hold in multiple sectors in multiple ways.
But AI technology may be put to its most innovative use in fighting the pandemic.
Data about the virus is abundant. We are getting information from patients, doctors, and public health officials across the globe.
Knowledge is power, but too much information in too tight a window can't be put to productive use - not by individual researchers and not by research teams.
That's where medical AI steps up and steps in.
China has already developed and put into place multiple AI systems to curb the rate of infection among its dense population.
One such system uses AI-powered facial recognition in combination with infrared to screen people with a possible fever. Those with temperatures over 99 degrees Fahrenheit are flagged.
Additionally, the International Business Times reports that several of China's top tech firms have created apps that help individuals verify if they have been on the same plane or train as those with confirmed cases of the virus.
Machine-learning techniques such as semantic computing, deep learning, and neural networks will be critical for the global market rising to the challenge of synthesizing colossal volumes of medical data.
That's exactly why Tractica cites 22 separate areas in which AI can play a role in medicine, like image analysis and drug discovery. By 2025, the researcher says the healthcare AI market will top $34 billion.
One foundational play that will let you ride this wave is the Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (NASDAQ: BOTZ). Top holdings include Nvidida Corp., Keyence Corp., and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. BOTZ has an expense ratio of 0.68%.
Pandemic Winner No. 3: Telemedicine and Videoconferencing
Hospitals and doctors have been adding videoconferencing and phone consults in the last several years, mostly to improve on productivity and reduce patient wait times at offices.
COVID-19 caused a massive paradigm shift. Hospitals would only see folks with very high fevers and other symptoms. And millions of people stayed away from medical offices for fear of getting sick.
The Jerusalem Post records Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv as being the first in the world to launch a coronavirus telemedicine program in early February.
The telemedicine solution is not only being used to monitor a patient's vitals at the facility. The hospital also plans to provide the app to patients that don't have severe cases so that they can be monitored from their homes, freeing up the limited number of isolation rooms in the hospital.
An aging population, increasing cases of chronic diseases, and rapid rises in the software market are contributing to the major growth in this market.
Healthcare IT News and Mordor Intelligence tell us that - thanks to a yearly growth rate of 10% - the global market for telemedicine will be worth more than $34 billion by the end of 2020.
As with the other two areas of innovation we've talked about, there are multiple opportunities here. In addition to the strictly medical focus, the desire to insulate the healthy from the risks posed by crowds has led companies to have their employees work remotely - mostly from home.
That means a massive increase in videoconferencing.
Fortune Business Intelligence says the market is growing at 9.8% a year. Globally, the field will hit $6.37 billion in 2026, a little more than double the $3.02 billion in 2018.
Add it all up, and you can see that this field is brimming with breakthroughs that can help in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
One way to play this trend is via the Vanguard Information Technology Index ETF (NYSE: VGT). It suffered much less than other tech ETFs in the sell-off and has a super-low expense ratio of 0.10%.
And in the meantime, be sure to check out this one opportunity that touches practically any industry you can think of.
You see, my colleague, Tom Gentile, has been tracking this little-known market for the last 22 months - and I've never seen anything like it.
There are hundreds of these opportunities being traded every day. And absolutely anyone can capitalize on them. So today, Tom's going to blow the lid off this thing - and show you how you can pocket gains like 473%, 631%, even 933%...
About the Author
Michael A. Robinson is a 36-year Silicon Valley veteran and one of the top tech and biotech financial analysts working today. That's because, as a consultant, senior adviser, and board member for Silicon Valley venture capital firms, Michael enjoys privileged access to pioneering CEOs, scientists, and high-profile players. And he brings this entire world of Silicon Valley "insiders" right to you...
- He was one of five people involved in early meetings for the $160 billion "cloud" computing phenomenon.
- He was there as Lee Iacocca and Roger Smith, the CEOs of Chrysler and GM, led the robotics revolution that saved the U.S. automotive industry.
- As cyber-security was becoming a focus of national security, Michael was with Dave DeWalt, the CEO of McAfee, right before Intel acquired his company for $7.8 billion.
This all means the entire world is constantly seeking Michael's insight.
In addition to being a regular guest and panelist on CNBC and Fox Business, he is also a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter. His first book Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings warned people about the coming financial collapse - years before the word "bailout" became a household word.
Silicon Valley defense publications vie for his analysis. He's worked for Defense Media Network and Signal Magazine, as well as The New York Times, American Enterprise, and The Wall Street Journal.
And even with decades of experience, Michael believes there has never been a moment in time quite like this.
Right now, medical breakthroughs that once took years to develop are moving at a record speed. And that means we are going to see highly lucrative biotech investment opportunities come in fast and furious.
To help you navigate the historic opportunity in biotech, Michael launched the Bio-Tech Profit Alliance.
His other publications include: Strategic Tech Investor, The Nova-X Report, Bio-Technology Profit Alliance and Nexus-9 Network.