At CES on Monday, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) held a virtual panel on “Tech Trends to Watch,” where the CTA’s top two researchers talked about how quickly things changed in 2020, and what to look forward to it 2021.
According to the panel by VP of research Steve Koenig and director of research Lesley Rohrbaugh, a lot of technologies were pressed into service early in 2020, due to the pandemic. But there’s still room to grow for many of them this year.
“Technology innovation really rushed in… and even saved a lot of lives,” Koenig said, recalling that the last major economic crisis, back in 2008, led to the rise of such technologies as ride sharing, cloud computing and more.
CTA cited a McKinsey report, which found that e-commerce was adopted by the equivalent of ten years in eight weeks, telemedicine advanced tenfold in fifteen days, streaming video—thanks to widespread adoption of Netflix and Disney+—jumped seven years in five months, while remote learning gained 250 million users in two weeks.
Indeed, the pandemic caused transformations in industries where it hadn’t quite been foreseen. Consumer spending on digital fitness has jumped 30-35 percent compared to levels prior to the pandemic, which is to say nothing of the impact the pandemic had on digital education. Even the courts have gotten into the act of holding digital proceedings.
Other technologies likely to gain, according to the presentation, are artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotic process automation, natural language processing and cloud computing. Meanwhile, the main tech ideas at this year’s CES, as CTA said late last year, are digital health, robotics and drones, 5G connectivity, digital transformation, vehicle technology and smart cities.
CTA sees the connected health monitoring category growing in a big way. The market had revenue of $632 million in 2020, which is seen by CTA as growing to $845 million in 2021, $962 million in 2022 and over $1 billion in 2023.
As for robots, they’re already seeing lots of applications, including cleaning, retail inventory, health and more. And such technologies as networked sensors, smart kiosks, and contact tracing are beginning to make smart cities more viable.
Koenig discussed television technology, in a Q&A period after the presentation.
“There’s always something next for TV at CES,” Koenig said. “Super-big, ultra-large however you want to describe it- these are massive, massive TVs.” 4K and HDR are “table stakes.”
“I think we’ll see more 8K displays,” he added. “They’ll have those festooning their ranges.” He also saw OLED as “a growing category, with more competition on the way.” He predicted we’ll all walk away from this year’s CES with “a few TVs on our shopping list.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.