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Coming decade set to see some smart innovations

By Barry He | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-01-07 01:34
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The start of the 2020s promises great improvements in the consumer technology we hold dear.

To think that we were still struggling in 2010 with 3G connections, and Wi-Fi broadband was far from mainstream! Even the concept of owning a smartphone was still not 100 percent universal in the developed economies. Now, however, the next generation of ideas and innovations has come to fruition.

One such area is that of wearable computers and tech. Apple led the charge halfway through the last decade, releasing the Apple Watch in 2015. The cordless earbuds Apple Airpods are now also widespread now and a common sight among the commuters of the world. They can be controlled by voice-activated Siri, and no-doubt set up bigger innovations later this decade.

Since Apple's earbud revolution began, many other brands, including Samsung, Xiaomi, and Huawei, have all come up with their own designs with similar concepts. It is clear that the market desires this ecological niche of wearable tech, with Google recently purchasing Fitbit for $2.1 billion in a bid to compete with the likes of Apple. In the next few years, wearable accessories may soon be able to enhance our sensory experiences, by allowing us to hear even better or change how other people hear us, making this an extremely exciting concept to follow this decade.

Another area of tech to watch this decade will be virtual assistants. The likes of Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant all take various physical forms, ranging from speakers, to light bulbs and robotic vacuums.

The competitive and complicated marketplace between competitors also came to a truce that saw Amazon, Google, and Apple announce that they were working together to create a standard to ensure that smart home products could become compatible with each other. This means that whenever you next buy a smart light bulb (or potentially even a smart cupboard by the end of this decade?), it will work alongside other smart home products you already have. Expect this decade therefore to be full of smart home innovations.

So far, so familiar.

Both of the previously discussed areas of technology are ones that would be recognizable to people alive between 2010 and 2019. However, what of the experimental far-flung futuristic devices that the 2020s promise us? The big breakthroughs on the horizon include Apple's secret (but not so secret) projects to do with augmented reality glasses and self-driving cars.

With regard to the augmented reality glasses, they would tie into the success of Apple's Airpods, as previously mentioned.

However, leaked beta tests for the product indicate an exciting array of features and ways in which such technology may be able to change our day-to-day lives.

Self-driving cars are another beast entirely, with the likes of Apple, Tesla, and Baidu all in the race to make this technology a mainstream reality as soon as possible. The progress for this however is extremely secretive, and the inevitable challenges that come with autonomous vehicles add to the unpredictability.

All in all though, the 2020s are going to be extremely exciting years for consumer technology.

The nature of predictions is that we base them on previous experiences and events that have happened. However, the beauty of technology is that unpredictable trends in the future may trigger surprises and innovations that nobody can see coming. The arrival of 4G in the previous decade, for example, was predicted, but the innovation that came with it, for example, the arrival of apps including TikTok and Snapchat surprised most.

Likewise, we look forward to the coming decade, which is sure to offer many surprising innovations.

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