Blake Dowling: Hands off! Exploring a touch-free world
Gensler Office Tampa. Image via Michael Moran.

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How long are these changes going to be in place? All year? Forever?

Little Caesars has a touch-free ordering option; I am sure you have seen it advertised.

My last summer at UF, we had Student Senate meetings Tuesday nights. There was a Little Caesars at Reitz Union that I would sometimes stop in after the meeting with my friend Lauren. It was fabulous.

But it doesn’t taste so great now, kind of like Cap’n Crunch now versus when you were a kid.

Anyway, getting back on track; touch-free/contactless is going to the new thing. If you haven’t noticed this yet, it will be the first of many mentions in the coming weeks.

Look back and think about touch-free trash cans and soap dispensers at airports and rest areas. Consider those as Gen 1.

Or, as the founders of this type of tech imagine, the next-gen will include apps to call the elevator, open the door, switch on lights, air conditioning, payment, ATMs. Think voice-controlled (or picture) on your phone managing your world more and more (as if it doesn’t control us enough) but with the endgame of minimizing the spread of germs.

You may think I am talking futurist gibberish; negative, this is happening now.

In Estonia, it is already happening in this building: No touching doors, no touching anything.

The last time I was in Estonia (the only time) I watched The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.

Amazing film, or maybe it was the fever.

I was sick on the boat and watched movies all day. Jeanne put on Sisters after that, wow. That was a really bad movie and I like bad movies; but not THAT bad.

So, if you are in Tallinn and need a Bentley and are concerned about germs on the doors/counters this is the spot; they even replaced the security team with robots to further keep the germ count down.

In Lakeland, Florida-based Publix announced this week they are rolling contactless payment in all 1,200 stories they operate — not just roll out, mind you, done. In place, this week.

In a column last month, I gave Publix a shoutout and they our continuing to impress on all fronts. You can read about their latest moves in an action-packed new edition of Super Market News.

Meanwhile, in Tampa, the Tampa Bay Business Journal touches on these trends in our state but they wanted $350 to unlock the article so if you have a subscription you can check that out on your own time.

I’m a big believer in paying for content — no matter what the source — but when I clicked here, it was $350.

For a second, I thought I got ransomware.

Our society is different, the writing is on the wall there, but how long are these changes going to be in place? All year? Forever?

Did you see what the Miami Dolphins are cooking up?

On Monday, they announced a plan for a potential game scenario with only 15,000 fans in the 60,000-seat Hard Rock Stadium.

Also, in line with my earlier points they are working on contact-free payment for all things, parking, concession — get this, church-style exiting by rows. Not a bad idea, it might take forever but I think most Dolphins fans agree they have always staggered exiting in place, as fans start leaving at halftime usually, right?

You can read more from the Herald on their plans.

So, a contactless world — is it hype, as what happened in 2004 when SARS was rampant and six months later it vanished. I remember that outbreak started in February and disappeared by July.

I am sure people are already jumping up and down as I mention this; literally everyone I meet has become a pandemic expert in 2020.

But we do not have a lot of comparisons for this kind of thing. Going back to 1918 is a bit out of my wheelhouse.

Is COVID-19 quite different from SARS? yes.

Is there any reason to not be optimistic and hope this thing does just goes away one day? No.

Dolphin fans keep going to games (this could be the year, right?), maybe the low crowd noise will be just what they need to focus.

The bottom line is this: A contact-free world sounds pretty cool to me. ATM’s, door handles at gyms/post office, etc., were all nasty before all this mess. Be safe out there.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, host of the Biz & Tech podcast, writes for several organizations, and does not really care about the NFL. So, sorry for the hazing Dolphin fans.

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Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at


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