Predicting the future is tough, especially in the fast-evolving world of tech. But thinking about what comes next is something we humans seem wired to do. Making predictions gives us focus, helps us think longer term, and (most importantly of all) gets us excited about the future. So what better way is there to start the year than by getting hyped about some amazing new tech, right?
So we asked the tech pros here in the Tesonet community to pull out their high-tech crystal ball and tell us what technologies and trends could shape the world in 2022.
Here are the 5 technologies they’re excited about this year.
1. The Metaverse and VR devices
Metaverse has been a top buzzword in tech for some time now. And while a fully functioning 3D digital dimension a la Ready Player One is probably still a decade away, in 2022 we are likely to see some exciting developments.
Facebook’s rebranding as Meta, together with its announcement of plans to invest billions into the metaverse, has generated the most buzz so far. But other tech giants won’t be far behind. So in 2022, expect to see tech companies wrestle for slices of this emerging market.
Thanks to the metaverse’s rapid development, the popularity of next-generation VR devices could really spike this year. Google, Microsoft and Apple are gearing up to introduce their own hardware and software products for the metaverse. The latter is reportedly expected to announce a high-end headset that mixes virtual reality and augmented reality some time this year.
The pandemic is also pushing companies toward VR for onboarding, training and meetings. So in 2022 you may be stepping into the metaverse for work. For instance, later this year Microsoft is integrating its mixed reality platform Mesh into Teams, its video conferencing app. Mesh works a little like a video call, only with 3D holograms.
Helped along by the rise of NFTs, 2021 was the year that Web3 emerged as a buzzword among crypto enthusiasts. In 2022, the interest in (and investments into) Web3 is only set to continue.
Web3 refers to a decentralized online ecosystem based on the blockchain. And this new version of the web could usher in a decentralized internet and, perhaps, put data ownership back in the hands of the user.
In a Web3 world, people will control their own data and bounce around from social media to email to shopping using a single personalized account. This account creates a public record on the blockchain of all of that activity. Importantly, platforms and apps built on Web3 won’t be owned by a central gatekeeper, but rather by users, who will earn their ownership stake by helping to develop and maintain those services.
Today, Web3 appears to be more of an exciting concept than a concrete reality. But it has been generating significant optimism because of the continued development of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
And as the perceived value of digital coins took off last year – with the total value of the market passing $3 trillion in November – so too has the expectation that the decentralized model can be applied to other areas of online life, starting with Web3. Expect to see more investors jump on the bandwagon in 2022.
3. Wearable sensors and biometric data
Fitness trackers have got us all comfortable with the idea of wearing sensors to monitor our body’s performance. And now clinicians are using individual biometric data to prevent, diagnose and treat health problems.
We can expect 2022 to bring even more ways to analyze this data, plus a number of new wearable gadgets that can blaze a path to a digital health future. In this future, patients and doctors will be able to observe the human body 24/7.
So what will these new wearables do? Beyond heart rate, number of steps, or hours of sleep, they will also monitor blood pressure and dehydration or glucose levels. Sensors currently being developed could even look for signs of Covid or other infections. And forget wrist-worn devices – in 2022, you’ll be able to get your hands on skin patches and glasses packed with sensors. There are even lighting products like Sengled’s recently-announced Smart Health Monitoring bulb that are able to track your sleep, heart rate, and other biometric measurements using radar.
It remains to be seen how many of these innovative gadgets will enter the mainstream in 2022, but the future looks bright – the global market for wearable health and fitness devices is projected to reach over $100 billion by 2028.
4. Generative AI
AI has been the driving force behind a wide range of new technologies, everything from autonomous vehicles to automated tools for optimizing your cloud usage.
And generative AI, which can give machines something akin to an imagination, is another promising advance that could have a big impact in 2022.
Generative AIs learn about content or objects and then, crucially, they use this information to generate brand-new, original, and realistic artefacts. This technology can be used for a range of activities, including creating software code, accelerating new drug development, and generating insights for targeted marketing.
The most important aspect of generative AIs is their ability to learn unsupervised. They process raw data and work out what they need to learn from it without being told. For example, a generative AI-powered self-driving car could teach itself about many different road conditions without leaving the garage.
By 2025, Gartner research institute expects generative AI-produced data to account for 10% of all data generated – it is currently at less than 1%. So you can expect to see a lot more generative AI applications in 2022.
5. 3D printing (aka additive manufacturing)
It’s been nearly 40 years since the birth of 3D printing, but its mass adoption has been relatively slow going so far. However, research advances are changing the image of a once niche technology.
At the forefront of Industry 4.0, 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, looks to be at the cusp of a decade of rapid growth. 3D printing is faster and can produce larger products. And scientists are coming up with innovative ways to print, and creating stronger materials, sometimes mixing multiple materials in the same product.
Sportswear firms, aviation and aerospace manufacturers, and medical device companies are eager to take advantage of these developments. Take aerospace giant Honeywell, which has started to use additive manufacturing both to produce more complex designs and to boost supply chain flexibility by 3D printing the parts that are most in demand.
There are also more sci-fi-like applications, like a new 3D bioprinting technique that can be used to treat chronic wounds and an underwater 3D printing technology for repairing seabed-level pipelines.
We’re not going to be printing spare car engine parts in our living rooms in 2022. But we definitely won’t have to wait another decade to see some significant new uses of additive manufacturing.