I really thought we’d be traveling to Mars by 2022, didn’t you? I jest (sort of). Elon says we’re 5-10 years out. Despite the lack of interplanetary journeys, technology continues to improve exponentially. So no, it’s not in our heads, technology really is improving at a break-neck speed.
What will be the big areas of tech focus/ innovation in 2022? Here are some predictions.
1. Blockchain will rapidly expand adoption and NFTs will be a hot(ter) topic among entertainment fans and art collectors.
NFTs were not a flash in the pan, as the crypto-obsessed Art Basel can attest. Expect even more investment in massive mining servers. One interesting company is Redivider, who is building a fund to bring blockchain mining into “opportunity zones” throughout the US.
As The Guardian’s James Ball recently wrote, “If people are buying NFTs and driving up the price because they truly value the artworks on offer, then the gold rush could prove sustainable. If people are buying them solely because they think someone else will buy one for more, lots of people will lose big. One special thing to watch out for, for buyers and sellers alike, is platform fees. These can amount to hundreds of dollars – do remember the house always wins.”
Pro Tip: Get familiar with the ten most common cryptocurrency buzz words here.
2. In Healthcare, we will see more focus on longevity medicine.
Of course, keeping good health is the daily goal for so many of us, and the pandemic will reach its second year in March.
Both Pfizer and Merck have created antiviral pills, and vaccine rollout will continue, and target new variants. Telemedicine grew during the pandemic out of necessity but will be here for a long time as many patients actually prefer interacting with doctors from the comfort of their homes versus trekking to a clinic or office. And vaccine cards will be streamlined even more. Right now individual cities have digital cards (like the Excelsior pass in NYC), but companies like Clear, who normally focus on the travel industry, are now branching into the live event space to make verifying someone’s vaccine status as simple as scanning a QR code.
Apart from Covid, we’ll be embracing more virtual and artificially intelligent solutions in healthcare for our personal longevity. Everything from AI prescriptions/diagnostics to widely accepted telehealth will become more commonplace. We’ll see more wellness and immunity clinics, wearable sensors that help us to live healthier, medications engineered to make us strong and sharp, and concierge medicine for those who desire (and are willing to pay for) time with experts.
From a tech perspective, Blockchain will also provide a foundation for protecting patient records, such as the app Ever, which currently operates in Thailand. And finally, there will be more and more apps that can make a doctor’s visit instant and entirely virtual. Even insurance companies like Oscar provide virtual primary care visits to members for convenience (and of course, to save the company itself costs.)
3. Live Events will be off to a rocky start in Q1; People will push to be together in-person more from April forward.
In terms of events, music and tech events will be back, with giant caveats in place and lots of safety precautions. Simply put, until the pandemic ends, live events are a slippery slope. Take, CES, which has already begun seeing tech giants pull out of participating in their early January conference.
It’s not just a fun addition to have virtual/hybrid options on deck, it’s essential if you want to stay afloat as a conference. On the music side, many concerts are still being planned for 2022, such as the large “Lovers and Friends” Hip Hop and R&B festival occurring in Las Vegas in May, and an Elton John world tour. However, as Broadway’s shutdown in December due to Omicron is any indication, artists should be prepared to have to reschedule their tour dates.
4. Demand will continue to rise in the Auto Industry, despite more virtual workplaces and seemingly less need for cars.
Of all industries, the auto industry has arguably been the hardest hit by supply chain issues during the pandemic. It all began with chips. Automakers assumed that new car sales would take a while to bounce back during the pandemic, and so did not order enough computer chips — leaving semiconductors on the table for big tech to snatch up. And it’s not just chip shortages, auto manufacturers are facing a lack of steel, rubber, resin and most importantly, labor. Some estimate that 7.7million fewer cars were built in 2021 due to supply chain issues– costing the auto industry approximately 270 billion.
But there’s a strong demand for both new and used cars, and car prices are on the rise. In 2022, the rise of electric cars is upon us, but there are also some amazing new gas-powered vehicles. Dream cars include the Nissan Z, the Corvette Z06, Porsche 911 GT3 and Porsche 718 GT4RS. People are growing comfortable with plug-in hybrids, like the Rav 4 Prime. The Tesla SUV is top of mind for all electric-fans, which is more aesthetically pleasing than their previously heralded Cyber-truck. Of course, you can always forego cars completely and stick to bikes. And the Smart Tires, the tires that never go flat, will be available next year.
5. Gadgets will be more advanced but more difficult to get for at least the first half of the year. (supply chain issues)
Like the auto industry, tech also suffered due to the supply chain. In 2021, some media and tech businesses were forced to reduce their production by up to 25% due to semiconductor chip shortages. Expect the tech supply chain to continue to suffer in 2022, at least through Q2. To help mitigate these effects, companies are aiming to steer customers towards available products, and better prepare themselves for future shortages (what HBR calls “availability” and “resilience”).
Despite chip shortages, there are some great gadgets coming out in 2022. These include the Google Pixel Watch, Netgear’s NFT Canvas and the Apple “Mixed Reality” headset. The one that’s the most interesting to me is the Apple headset, as it’s really a test run for their future AR glasses offering. Given the amount of Quest 2s sold during Black Friday, people are interested in VR. However, Apple’s headset will most likely have a higher price tag than Oculus, so it remains to be seen how it fares in the marketplace. My prediction is that Apple won’t have a big XR hit until they get those AR glasses up and running, and that won’t be for a few years. (bummer).
CES 2022 will also feature a gadget I’ve had my eyes on, LG Display’s flexible OLED TV. Curved TVs are not new, but I’ve never seen a TV that can bend and shape like this before. These displays can literally bend like a piece of paper — it’s super futuristic-looking. This tech is great for incorporating into seating for a dynamic viewing experience (LG’s “Media Chair”) but is also handy for fitness, as you can surround someone on an exercise bike with screens (“Virtual Ride”). Flexible screens may be a concept/ true luxury item for now, but given how quickly flatscreens became wildly affordable, I’m confident that displays of the future will be even more out-of-the-box (pun intended.)
6. Every tech giant will make a Metaverse play this year.
Zuck was not playing around when he renamed Facebook “Meta”. Get ready for every tech giant to make a metaverse play this year, and for all sorts of companies to try to cash in.
Think, virtual reality real estate, avatar creation companies, and even virtual time-share properties. Per Bloomberg Intelligence, by 2024, the global Metaverse market is expected to hit $800 billion. Ark Invest estimates that revenue from virtual worlds could approach $400 billion by 2025. Keep an eye on Nvidia, Meta (Facebook), Roblox, Microsoft, Unity Software, Snap Inc, Autodesk, Apple, and Amazon in 2022. Together, they provide computing power, connectivity/network, virtual platforms, digital payment systems, content, and hardware used to power and access the Metaverse.
The best way to stay up to date on the metaverse, is to play around with it yourself. Some suggestions include: snagging a Quest 2 and experiencing some content (I’m a big fan of the fitness app Supernatural), have team meetups in the gaming metaverse Fortnite, or even just download SnapChat and experiment with AR filters. The metaverse provides an accumulation of layers on top of our existing reality. Right now, we’re in Web 2.0, and Web3 (when the internet is decentralized and based upon blockchain technology) is coming fast. In 2022, I see Web3 and metaverse tech continuing to merge, and getting us closer to the virtual reality environments and digital economies promised in books like Ready Player One (but hopefully, with less 80’s references.)
Here’s to 2022!
Let’s make 2022 a fresh start. Wishing you a year of health and peace, where we can be with our friends and family and do the things we love, all while innovating along the way.