The most exciting thing about technology is imagining the future and where we’ll be in 50 years’ time. Even imagining the world in a decade brings such excitement. Although we can imagine some fairly big changes, it takes small steps of innovation to get there. So, let’s start with where we’ll be next year.
We could easily get lost in the imagination of gadget and product trends of the future. From flying cars to trips to Mars being just as common as a flight to Florida for vacation, Hollywood has given us plenty to dream about. In reality, though, it’s far more likely that our innovations in the near future will be much closer to home, though SpaceX has many of us thinking otherwise. In order to dream big, we have to begin with thinking (and creating) small.
While the past few years have been all about AI and putting it everywhere we can (including in the cloud!), 2020 will turn a corner into the humanization of technology. The consumer doesn’t just want to interact with a device or product. We want that technology to interact with us, too. Our devices shouldn’t just do what we want; they should be doing what we want before we even ask.
At the same time as we have a push in the boundaries between human and machine, the consumer has an ever-growing desire for transparency, accountability, and responsibility from brands. This extends to not only the new products they share with the public but how they’re using the consumer to improve.
All of this ties in perfectly to the big surge in global connectivity. With the SpaceX Starlink satellites and 5G on the horizon, everyone will soon be connected to everyone everywhere. And with large trends like this, it becomes easier to predict product trends.
We’ve already seen 5G become a reality across multiple networks. It’s setting a new standard for seamless on-the-go connection for everyone. At the moment, 5G is limited. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are all vying for the top choice for consumers. However, they’re rolling out 5G city by city, with plans for access for one billion users sometime in 2023. 5G won’t entirely replace 4G, but the fast connectivity opens up the options for smartphones, computers, smart devices, and just about every tech niche.
Leaps and bounds in smartphone innovation
While the majority of the world is focusing on the foldable feature for smartphones, perhaps a more likely progression will be in a different direction. After all, current foldable devices haven’t started off with the best track record. From faulty functionality to being called ugly, it seems we’re still not on track for a fully-foldable future as far as product trends are concerned. However, another exciting niche in smartphone design is dual-screen devices, like in the LG G8X ThinQ. They’re remarkably useful, whether you want to use your device for work or gaming. And as far as functionality, it seems far more stable than foldable designs. Dual-screen devices will apply a design that is already in use, albeit in a different way. We’re assuming more brands will hop on this trend.
Smart home gadgets of 2020
With connection getting stronger, devices will be faster, smarter, and better equipped to handle more tasks. In 2020, you can expect to find more niche products. We’ll see smart home devices that solve minor annoyances and inconveniences.
Kitchen devices are sure to become more automated. Gone are the days of frozen meals, but that doesn’t mean the consumer doesn’t want convenience. Meal delivery kits may make it easier, but smart kitchen gadgets that can actually cook the food on their own will complete the process. The desire of the 2020 consumer will be to have home-cooked meals without doing any of the cooking.
Artificial intelligence gets more intuitive
We already know that AI is here to stay; it’s practically everywhere already. But where this technology will truly excel is becoming smarter at a faster rate. As these systems learn faster, they can better predict our needs and desires. From there, it’s a very simple step to predicting the things we didn’t even know we needed. AI systems will be telling us information before our brains can even get to that point.
With this ability, it’s a no brainer that AI will continue to infiltrate more products in the tech world. Imagine your car forever learning about your wants and needs. You won’t even need to set scenes for your smart home.
The robots are coming
In the past few years, personal robots have all but died. We saw countless brands of all sizes rise to the occasion, giving us hope that we could all have our very own butler. The majority of them didn’t pan out, and most of us resided to waiting for updates from Boston Dynamics (who can resist those videos?!) and Sophia.
A focus on health tech
With the news that the Apple Watch can accurately detect atrial fibrillation, it’s clear the future of health products is in the self-service niche. We’re moving beyond fitness tracking and calorie counting. Apple has already announced they’re adding more metrics into their health tracking, including women’s health, movement, and hearing.
AR, VR, and mixed reality
This is possibly one of the most exciting areas of technology innovation; the consumer just can’t get enough. These headsets have officially become a household device as there are more experiences added. But, there will always be the ever-growing need for more realities.
And, you can bet those experiences will become more seamless. Brands will be improving the devices to set new standards across the board. Apple is already rumored to be in the process of creating their own AR headset, though the rumors and leaks say it won’t arrive until 2021 at the earliest.
Drones of the future
Bigger isn’t always better, especially when size can directly affect battery life. Consumer drones are already getting smaller and smaller, but we’re predicting these smaller sizes will be complemented by better batteries and more powerful cameras.
And, with smaller sizes, we expect there will be a shift to modular designs. Moment, the maker of smartphone lenses, has already released add-on accessories for drone cameras. But what if additional add-ons were available for bigger batteries and stronger motors? It’s absolutely a possibility. The result would be drone pilots swapping out modules based on their needs, rather than being limited to drone’s abilities.
In 2020, we can expect a pretty good insurgence of green-based systems like smart home gardens and solar-powered (and -gathering) devices. Tesla put accessible home solar on the map with the Powerwall and it’s going to become the norm.
There are also countless crowdfunding campaigns already entering the green market and other small brands are also moving in that direction. Eco-friendliness isn’t just a selling point, it’s becoming the new norm for brands of all sizes. Just look at Apple using only recyclable materials in their newer devices.
Disconnecting from technology
Even with such a big push for more technology (like we see every year), there’s an ever-growing desire to be disconnected (while remaining connected). We’ll see trends of products like smartwatches and speakers bridging the gap between those two worlds.
Remote work product trends
With all the connectivity we have on our disposal, working remotely is an obvious next step for much of the world’s workforce. We already have smart video calling devices like Facebook Portal. At the same time, we’re seeing numerous studies saying that working from home can be helpful for productivity. Put these ideas together and we can assume 2020 will bring more innovation for working from everywhere.
For many devices and gadgets, the technology is already there. However, part of the innovation process includes creating a concept and then a viable product with only the technology as a focus. The product creators that enter through the crowdfunding world are particularly aware; successful campaigns need at least a working prototype to even begin funding.
Product trends in 2020
Phew – there’s clearly a lot to look forward to when it comes to gadget, tech, and product trends for the next year. While we can’t know the exact course of innovation, that’s all part of the excitement. We can’t wait to see what else creators and innovators come up with. At the very least, we’re going to have a clearer picture of the future of technology after CES 2020.