It’s that time of the year, where we look into the crystal ball and take a punt on the tech trends that are likely to dominate 2022. As always, we look at past markers as well as the future gadget pipeline to predict how consumers and technology are likely to interact in the coming year.
Will the twain finally meet?
We can’t wait to get our hands on Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8. Laptop, tablet, or digital canvas? That’s the question Microsoft is asking. The answer might tell us if we will finally see the laptop and tab converge. The iPad Pro almost got us there, but could the Surface Pro 8 be the perfect blend, and spark more clones as hybrid WFH/Work from office lifestyles become the norm?
Countries are finally taking stock and setting goals – China has set a 20 percent target for using recycled content in all products by 2025, while California has passed a bill stipulating 50 percent PCR (post-consumer recycled or reprocessed plastic) in plastic containers by 2030. We’re likely to see more products like HP’s Elite Dragonfly laptop – the first computer to use ocean-bound plastic for speakers and bezels – and Electrolux’s concept vacuum cleaner made from 100 percent recycled and reused materials.
Life in the fast lane
Will 2022 be the year that India finally keeps its date with 5G? The 5G spectrum auction is tipped to take place in Q2 2022, paving the way for a rollout this year. This could not just impact speeds but also change the way we consume content and interact with our devices.
More foldables are coming
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 3 was one of the coolest devices we checked out in 2021. Statista has predicted that global sales of foldable smartphones will grow by 50x – from 1 million units in 2019 to 50 million by 2022. And it’s not just Samsung; Oppo just unveiled the aggressively priced Find N in China, suggesting that foldables could go more mainstream in 2022.
The Metaverse is more real than you think
We’ve been talking about the Metaverse right through 2021. FOMO might well be driving key players to what seems like a world of endless opportunity. CES 2022 will feature a new NFT and Digital Assets Program, AR and VR innovations could start impacting the Metaverse, and big players like Magic Leap and Huawei are working on virtual worlds at scale to kickstart the digital commerce and 3D avatar economies. Don’t go anywhere; this space is likely to see daily action and updates all year.
Samsung’s M7 Smart Monitor that debuted in 2021 is part of a bigger Covid-induced trend. We’re likely to see more people opt for a single or even dual-screen that allows you to get it all done. No more multiple screens for Netflix, work and online meetings.
Could AR and VR finally take off?
These are recurring themes in every prediction for the not-so-distant future. The rumour mill has been abuzz with Apple’s plans; Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that the brand’s mixed reality headset could finally debut at the end of 2022 or early 2023, while Apple Glasses might be unveiled in 2025.
VR and AR could also lead to more immersive gaming and entertainment experiences. In early 2021, things got a bit scarier in the popular Phasmophobia that added haptic suit feedback allowing ‘ghosts’ to touch players. Audio experiences are getting more real too. Nvidia announced that it will create richer and realistic soundscapes by applying ray tracing principles.
A lot will depend on the launch of Matter, the long-overdue smart home OS developed by Apple, Google and Amazon to create a unified operating environment for connected devices at home. Statista has projected the smart home industry to be worth $53.5 billion by 2022. Amazon’s upcoming Astro robot is one of the key devices that could alter the ‘face’ of home monitoring and eldercare.
The CEO of Abbott will deliver a keynote at CES 2022, a key indicator that disinfecting tech will continue to trend as we transition from pandemic mode to endemic mode. LG’s Tonefree buds launched in 2021 with a charging cradle that generates ultraviolet light and sanitises the earbuds, eliminating 99.9 percent bacteria each time you charge it. We’re likely to see more innovations in the air purifier space as well as high-tech face masks.