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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.

Go deeper: When going back to work isn't safe

Go deeper

Oct 1, 2020 - Health

Pfizer CEO: COVID-19 vaccine development is "moving at the speed of science"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourl speaking in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told employees in a letter Thursday that he is disappointed his company's coronavirus vaccine was politicized during this week’s presidential debate, adding that campaign rhetoric about the outbreak and vaccine development is “undercutting public confidence," according to AP and CNBC.

Why it matters: President Trump accused pharmaceutical companies of slowing their COVID-19 vaccine development to hurt him politically at Tuesday's debate, claiming the U.S. is "weeks away from a vaccine," per Stat News.

Oct 1, 2020 - Health

Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021

A laboratory technician preparing a blood sample for a vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna. Photo: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said Wednesday that his company's coronavirus vaccine won't be available for widespread distribution until at least spring 2021, according to Financial Times.

Why it matters: Bancel told FT that the drugmaker will not seek emergency authorization for FDA approval for its vaccine for front-line medical workers and at-risk individuals until Nov. 25 at the earliest.

Updated Oct 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, the physician to the president confirmed early Friday.

Why it matters: Trump is 74 years old, which generally puts him at higher risk for severe illness from the virus, per CDC guidelines. The president was experiencing "mild symptoms" on Friday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters.