A new year has begun which means it’s time for new and updated trends to look forward to! We’ve put together a list of five anticipated tech trends that show great promise and will help solve some of the issues that 2020 left behind in order to make the new year a more positive one.
Last March, most states declared stay-at-home orders for all residents. Now, almost a whole year later, many people are still following that order – mandate or not. Many leaders in the United States had hoped that a month-long stay-at-home order would be enough to flatten the curve of this unexpected pandemic, but unfortunately it still exists today and is even worse than before. While many individuals started to go back to work this past summer, many companies and organizations are still working remotely or at least offering the option to do so until things are safer. In fact, many companies such as Microsoft and Facebook have even decided to make working remotely a permanent option, whether or not the pandemic subsides. Regardless of what these companies and organizations do, remote work has become the new norm, so it’s only fair to say that work-from-home technology will advance quickly and become a huge investment in the tech world.
According to a survey conducted for CCS Insights, “60% of business leaders in Western Europe and North America expect at least 25% of their workforce, and in some cases all of their staff, to work at least partly from home – even when the pandemic is over.” Some of these innovations may include technology like work from home packages with extra routers and security offered by internet providers, or digital whiteboards allowing team members to visually collaborate with each other while at their own homes. Whatever it may be, work-from-home technology is expected to be used widely in this year and it’s definitely here to stay.
Social engagement has always been a vital part in growing an organization’s audience and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made social engagement even more important. Aside from social media presence, many companies and organizations heavily relied on events such as tradeshows, conferences, and annual conventions to promote themselves to both current and potential customers or supporters. However, most in-person events were cancelled last year and it doesn’t look like they will return anytime soon. The lack of in-person events means that it’s a must that the level of social media usage across all industries increase as it will most likely become a big factor in a business’ success in this new year. Going completely virtual is an adjustment for many of us but it can be a positive change for you and your brand.
Jim Kruger, Chief Marketing Officer at Veeam, explained to Forbes that, “As we move into 2021 and beyond, many events will stay virtual not only because of continued safety concerns, but also as a result of lessons learned in 2020. Companies found that by going virtual, they opened up their event to an entirely new audience as virtual events are more accessible than in-person events. For virtual events, visa issues, travel restrictions and coasts aren’t as much of a concern as with in-person events, and many companies have found that this allows for higher attendance and more participation. That means lower cost for more people and a higher ROI. The key is to get creative and drive engagement through great speakers, rich content and some fun of course.”
Whether it be promoting virtual events, new company web content, or product sales, the way you and your team interact with your customers and audience through social media will be one of the most positively impactful strategies of 2021.
Before the pandemic, individuals usually bought wearable tech like Apple watches as fun gadgets and tools to make their lives easier, during the pandemic, though, wearable tech has become much more essential and even helped make the closings of certain businesses easier.
With the closings of gyms or individuals not feeling safe enough to go to the open ones, the market for wearables increased drastically. Forbes recognized that companies like Peloton helped make our new stay-at-home reality easier with workout devices compatible with wearables and remote competitions as well as leaderboards all from the comfort of one’s living room. Another way wearables have been used in the athletics industry was when the 2019-20 National Basketball Association season was suspended for over 140 days after a player tested positive for COVID-19. Although there were no other cases on the team after that, wearables may have been a big reason there were no other cases. Players, coaches and trainers were given a wristband that they could wear off the court which had a small chip inside the band that would set off a light and sound when wearers were not socially distancing from one another. This alarm was so effective that the bands have been “picked up by the National Football League, the Pacific-12 college football conference and other sports leagues around the world.”
Kinexon, the company in charge of creating the N.B.A’s wristbands is also looking towards introducing their gear to manufacturing and supply chain industries. Henkel, a global industrial and household chemical manufacturer in Germany tested an earlier version “designed to avert collisions between forklifts and workers on high-traffic factory floors.” Kinexon offered Henkel a chance to test a variation of that technology, called SafeZone, which is a half-ounce sensor that workers are able to easily wear on their wrist or around their neck and is used in the same way as the N.B.A wristbands – a sound and light alarm that goes off in close proximity to others. Not only do these sensors help in stopping the spread of COVID-19 but post-pandemic, they can still be used as safety precautions, especially in work environments that may carry more safety hazards than usual, like factories.
Wearable tech has also become an important tool within the healthcare sector as there have been developments such as smart bandages and monitoring patches that patients can wear and automatically send results to their healthcare specialist to be reviewed through telehealth. According to a Gartner report, consumer spending on wearable technology will double by 2021, possibly making wearables an even larger part in our daily lives as we continue to transition into our “new normal” through this pandemic.
3D printing has been around for only a few decades but its accessibility and abilities have been advancing each and every year – with no exception in a COVID-19 year. With stores and vendors shut down due to the pandemic, the demand for products, especially in the supply chain industry, have increased at a speed that’s oftentimes too fast for businesses to keep up with. This is where 3D printing comes in handy.
According to the Association of Supply Chain Management, “COVID-19 gave the world ‘a glimpse into how 3D printing can be used temporarily to alleviate the strain on supply chains during demand surges and shortages, as it did with medical equipment.’” With 3D printing, products can be made and delivered at a faster speed, helping with the supply and demand that manufacturers have had to deal with during the pandemic.
Brad Rothenberg, founder and CEO of 3D printing software company nTopology says, “The application of advanced manufacturing technologies, including 3D printing and other digital processes, will enable the most advanced products to enter the market – design will, once again, become the differentiator for companies releasing better, more sustainable products.” Although 3D printing may not be the newest invention, companies can anticipate a great year with its assistance and abilities.
One of the things people don’t look forward to about grocery shopping is finding the shortest checkout line… especially when even the “shortest” line seems like it’s moving at the slowest pace possible. However, what if you could grocery shop and leave immediately after without any lines or any wait?
Amazon recently made that vision possible when they opened Amazon Go Grocery. Using the Amazon Go app, customers can scan the app’s QR code at the entrance, select as many items as they need from the store, and then exit the store line-free. Amazon explains that their “Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to their shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store.” Later, they’ll send you a receipt and directly charge your Amazon account. How is this possible? Using technology such as artificial intelligence, cameras around the store track factors such as motion detection and object identification. “They’re augmented by separate depth-sensing cameras that blend into the background like the rest. The images captured from these cameras are sent to a central processing unit, which does the real work of quickly and accurately identifying different people in the store and objects being picked up or held.”
Right now, Amazon Go stores are only about 1,200 to 3,000 square feet, they can get as big as 10,000 square feet, as seen in their Seattle store. According to Bloomberg, Amazon was hoping to open as many as 3,000 of these stores by this year, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, that may be delayed. In January 2018, Amazon opened their first store which was around 3,000 square feet, as mentioned previously. Two years later, their store was about 10,000 square feet, and those two years translates to a threefold increase in what Amazon’s computer vision technology can handle. If the work on these stores continues, they could expand to 20,210 square feet this year. While these statistics were envisioned before the pandemic hit and there’s no telling how COVID-19 will affect its plans, checkout-free stores would be an especially great experience to have during unprecedented times like these where people try to keep their time outside of the home to a minimum. Either way, we definitely expect to see more checkout-free grocery stores opening in the future with 2021 continuing the expansion of it.
From new work-from-home technology to checkout-free grocery shopping, 2021 will be a year of innovation and smarter advancements in the tech industry – pandemic or not – so be sure to keep an eye out for these trends in the new year!