Jun 24, 2020 - Technology

Lenovo to help businesses return to work

Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo CEO, in 2016.

Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo CEO, in 2016. Photo: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Motorola Mobility

Chinese tech giant Lenovo is joining a growing list of tech firms that see a business in helping other companies reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: Technology can't address all the issues related to a return to office life, but there are lots of opportunities in the software and hardware needed to detect fevers, keep workers physically separated and track which workers have been in contact with one another.

Driving the news: The company's nascent commercial Internet of Things business, based in the U.S., is partnering with a number of smaller vendors to offer tools to help businesses with tasks like touchless entry, thermal temperature scanning and keeping track of which employees interact with one another.

Details: Lenovo is handling the overall distribution, service and support, while it is tapping partners with experience in the sector to provide specific hardware.

  • Partners include CXApp, Inpixon, L Squared, Relogix, Openpath, and Viper Imaging.

Between the lines: Lenovo only started its commercial IoT business late last year and had yet to launch its first products when the pandemic hit. "We flipped all our offerings before they were even released," said John Gordon, president of Lenovo's commercial I0T business.

Many of Lenovo's partners have also shifted gears to focus on COVID-19.

  • In the past, Viper Imaging's thermal scanning solutions were used to check the temperature of food or monitor conditions at steel mills. Now the firm is shifting to focus on people.
  • Thermal scanning was sometimes used in Asia during past disease outbreaks, like H1N1, but the technology was still too nascent and expensive for widespread use.
  • "We've learned a lot since then," said Viper Imaging co-founder Andy Beck.

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