In celebration of a new decade, we’re taking a closer look at 14 tech trend predictions from CBInsights. 2020 will be a big year for all facets of technology, particularly in health tech, business optimization, and political agendas.
1. We see broader and deeper quantum tech commercialization
Greater commercialization of quantum technology. We’re seeing more and more advancements and adoption of all types of quantum technology including quantum computers and quantum cryptography. For instance, last year Microsoft and Amazon announced that they using quantum computers in their cloud networks to help enterprise customers test out experimental algorithms.
2. The next wave of AR/VR tech and 5G will reshape where and how people work
Advancements in AR/VR are virtually bringing together remote workers into a physical space, revolutionizing the idea of office space. Imagine a virtual world where avatars join meetings and digital objects can be manipulated in real-time. With the proper 5G infrastructure, that enables faster, more reliable connection, this new way of working is now possible.
3. Apple doubles down on healthcare products and services
We’ll continue to see advances in healthcare devices in 2020, especially with Apple. The latest Apple watches offer significant health functions including fall detection, an inbuilt ECG, heart rate monitoring, and diabetes management. Apple’s AirPods incorporate a “live listen” function that acts like hearing aids, amplifying ambient sounds to help users hear more clearly.
4. “Slaughter-bots” ransomware, and worms: cyber-risks become real
Cyber risks will become more real. In 2019, software-based weapons such as bots, drones, worms, and ransomware become more prevalent; these weapons are increasingly becoming ubiquitous. The US drone assassination of Iranian’s prominent military Qasem Soleiman and the ransomware attack that shut down the city of Baltimore are a few examples. In 2020, public and private sectors need to actively protect themselves from these attacks or risk more disasters.
5. AI bias becomes a top regulatory concern
As technology advances, we need to recognize that everything is not “perfect.” This is particularly true for AI technology where gaps and biases in training data are causing unintentional discrimination. For instance, Amazon’s recruiting tool allegedly penalized resumes with the word “women’s” and the US government banned facial recognition after studies showed gender and race bias. This year, we’ll expect to see more governments cracking down on companies to test, identify, and correct AI bias. The “Algorithmic Accountability Act of 2019” introduced in the US is already an example of that.
6. Radical biohacking: biohackers push medical devices and regulators to the brink
Biohackers, where individuals manipulate their bodies to push its limits and boost performance will become more mainstream and challenge regulators. Since it can take up to a decade to develop and approve new drugs, many people are turning to biohacking to take control of their health. Examples include taking supplements, using unregulated medical devices and procedures, fasting, radical diets, and biohacking. Biohackers are taking a risk since many of these treatments lack scientific validity and could be harmful.
7. Robots’ commercial impact grows and advances in grip, soft robotics, and locomotion
One of the greatest challenges for the robotics sector is dexterity and gripping issues, especially in delicate, manual tasks. With the help of AI-assisted group technology and “soft robotics”, we will continue to see progress in this area. Robotic locomotion is dramatically improved using AI research to imitate neural brain architecture and activity. This software not only helps robots move faster and recover quickly from falls, but it is also affordable to replicate. New soft, elastic materials used to build robots improve their grip and minimalizes potential damage.
8. There will be a new wave of Saudi Arabian & Russian investment in tech & software
Unsurprisingly, in recent years Saudi Arabia and Russia have made several investments in tech and software. To name a few, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund made a $3.5B investment in Uber and Russia created the Skolkovo Foundation which has heavily invested in science and tech innovations. We will continue to see investments from these countries in the future.
9. Longevity, health, & wellness rise as an unstoppable cross-industry $8T + mega-market
Did you know that the number of Americans aged 65+ is expected to double in the next 40 years? With life expectancy at an all-time high, there is a greater focus on technology to help people live longer and better as they age. For instance, Google’s Calico Life Sciences researching the biology behind lifespan and developing therapeutics that target aging, 3D printed organs, smart homes, and autonomous vehicles.
10. Empathy becomes a must-have in tech product design and development
Here is a tech trend that’ll be hard to miss! Virtually every industry is beginning to embrace empathic design where data about a users’ thoughts, emotions, and needs are leveraged to create a user experience that provides value and understanding. This means that the user is directly involved in the design process so the end product meets their needs. In the auto industry, in-vehicle human centric features are already becoming the standard — technology such as biometric-based authentication and computer vision-based monitoring. These advancements can improve the lives of certain demographics.
11. Big businesses embrace sustainable ‘cradle-to-cradle’ supply chains and the tech enabling them
Technology will enable more sustainable ‘cradle-to-cradle’ supply chains that encompass the entire lifecycle of a product to better manage waste and efficiency. Several businesses have already began to integrate these practices by leveraging AI technology, allowing for reuse/rental, and using blockchain. Last year, Nestle announced a blockchain-based food tracker where customers could try individual items back to their farm of origin.
12. Livestreaming takes off as a new shopping trend
Think humans interacting with products while online shoppers watch on live video. Selling via livestream is excepted to be adapted more quickly than AR and VR since it’s already easily adapted by younger audiences, a better, enhanced user experience, and offers various levels of interactivity. Selling via livestream sets the stage for freer flow of information, potentially saving retailers billions by reducing returns, customer service queries, and abandoned shopping carts.
13. Unicorn-to-unicorn M&A: Uber & Airbnb merge? Spotify acquires Snap?
In 2020, we will see less M&A involving the big 8 (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba) and more with “smaller-sized” companies including unicorns. Regulators are expected to be more welcoming towards unicorn-to-unicorn mergers. For example if two complementary markets were to merge like Snapchat and Spotify, they could unite their strengths to tackle disruptive competitors, such as Tik Tok, and the big 8.
14. Crypto reversal: central banks embrace the “enemy” and roll out their own digital currencies
The impending long-term threat of technologies like bitcoin or Facebook’s Libra is jumpstarting governments to enter the space. Central banks, including China and France’s, are using features of cryptocurrency to develop their own software-based monetary instruments under their control. This willallow governments keep better track on whatever is done by money and effectively prevent money laundering, drug trafficking, counterfeit cash. China is the closest to achieving digital cash circulation with their Digital Currency and Electronic Payment system expected to launch shortly.