Over the past year, we have depended on technology more than ever. Not only are we living more of our lives online, we are also relying on it to keep us safe and healthy. The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held in January, as usual, but for the first time ever it was a virtual event – in itself demonstrating how far technology can go these days. Based on what was on show at CES 2021, the next few years promise to be an era of huge growth for technology shaped around our pandemic and post-pandemic needs. We’ll see the development of Artificial Intelligence, Extended Reality and Robotics – all supported by a major trend in itself, 5G networking.
The main trends we are seeing fit into four areas of our lives: Homeworking and Learning, Entertainment, Health and Travel.
Basically, screens. Adults are on them, children are on them, and tech companies want to make them as appealing as possible to keep us on them. This includes improved laptop processors for better overall performance, OLED technology for more consistent screen display and lighter options (presumably for better portability on the endless quest for a quiet space to work). Solutions designed to help people share ideas even if they can’t meet in person are also gaining ground, such as virtual whiteboards like Miro and Mural and programmes using computer vision that translate handwritten notes into digital formats for easy distribution. In addition, VR and AR solutions will make you feel like you’re in a meeting, conference or classroom without stepping outside your front door.
And while you’re busy on screens with precious little time for housework, you can rest safe in the knowledge that your smart washer and dryer will know exactly how to tackle the stains on your laundry, and your robot will be on hand to pour you a well-deserved drink at the end of the day.
There’s a fine line between work and entertainment when you’re spending much of your day looking at a screen, and thankfully innovations like the Lenovo LaVie Mini laptop will help you cross that line seamlessly. Once you’ve had enough of work, this laptop will turn into a handheld gaming console. Or if that’s not enough, you could always escape reality entirely and opt for a gaming chair with an immersive wrap-around screen.
If television’s more your thing, there are plenty of 8K TVs coming, while rollable smartphones will ensure bigger screens on the go (or even just on your sofa if you’re not going out, which you’re probably not at the moment). Just the thing for making or viewing posts on video surveys!
Technology is developing apace to help us protect ourselves from Covid. The omnipresent face covering has been given an upgrade in the form of this smart face mask, which is not only ultra-hygienic but environmentally friendly too as it’s made from recycled materials and has rechargeable ventilators.
With visits to health professionals more problematic these days, VR technology is beginning to enable remote examinations; for example, it can be used for opticians to examine a patient’s eyes, while AR lets customers browse the range of glasses on offer.
On a macro level, the branch of AI that sees machines being able to acquire knowledge and use it - machine learning – will mean algorithms can monitor and analyse infection rates and human behaviour to predict (amongst many other things) where healthcare resources will most be needed.
We might not be going very far any time soon, but when we do, vehicles may well look a little different from what we’re used to. Airbus is working on zero-emission hydrogen-powered aircraft, while Rolls Royce will soon be testing an electric plane. Driverless taxis of the sort already on offer in Pheonix, Arizona are set to spread further afield while solar-powered cars are also in development and may well be a real option soon if you live somewhere with plenty of sun.
And if that doesn’t grab you, and you haven’t bought a lockdown puppy (is it just us or has everyone suddenly got a dog?) CES didn’t disappoint with its yearly robotic pet. Meet Moflin the AI pet robot who can tell different people apart and express how it feels. What more could you ask for?