2020 was the year the world went remote, ushering in a new age of technology dependency during a time where using tech tools in place of in-person activities was suddenly a matter of necessity vs preference. In a world where the use of technology has already evolved to become the go-to for social interaction, work, and even wellness, where do we go from here?
Check out these trends coming out of CES 2021 to set your sights on all the places technology will take us in the new year.
The biggest story for the entertainment industry in 2020 was the shuttering of movie theaters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the closure of theaters, viewers flocked to streaming services in never before seen numbers. The entertainment industry watched the flock and in turn developed new equipment to take home entertainment to the next level.
Sony has debuted a new line of televisions with brighter OLED screens that host the new Google TV streaming system. Additionally, Samsung has revealed home entertainment products including a MicroLED TV that allows viewers to watch up to four shows at once, as well as QLED TVs in both 4K and 8K resolution complete with subwoofer sound bars designed to be the cherry on top of any home theater.
Not far behind the closure of movie theaters was the closure of gyms and fitness centers. Similar to how viewers turned to streaming services, wellness aficionados and exercise enthusiasts created virtual exercise classes and fitness apps in order to break a sweat safely. With a boom in the at-home fitness industry earlier this year, it comes as no surprise that a wave of new wellness apps and exercise devices debuted at CES this year.
New apps have been released, like Ultrahuman, a health and fitness app that helps people meditate and workout better at home with the help of respected athletes, neuroscientists, and psychologists. Meanwhile, wearable tech company Amazfit unveiled its new GTR 2e and GTS 2e smartwatches that use high-precision heart rate monitoring and blood oxygen saturation measuring to improve home workouts.
And last but not least, another Samsung feature has been added to 2021 TVs that allows you to attach your webcam to your television as a part of Smart Trainer, an app that allows you to track your at-home workout progress while receiving remote coaching.
In March of 2020 when school districts made the transition to remote and hybrid learning, many teachers and students thought that the switch would be a quick and impermanent adjustment. A year later, these same teachers and students have successfully adapted to their new virtual classrooms in large part due to advancements in education technology.
Remote education platforms such as the new Engageli provides video conferencing tools built specifically to recreate the in-person classroom environment in a completely remote space. But learning at home doesn’t end at education technology, the new X-Chair’s X-HMT desk chair has built-in heating and massaging functions— the first for an office chair— to keep you warm and comfortable during your virtual classroom sessions.
The top tech products of 2021 are those made by organizations who recognized the struggles of existing in 2020 and adapted to meet the evolving needs born from the COVID-19 pandemic. Primarily, the video conferencing industry saw advances in smart camera and smart home tools.
CES saw a rise in smart, 360° cameras like the Meeting Owl and Meeting Owl Pro, which has been used in offices, healthcare facilities, classrooms, and more.. As far as smart home tools go, while it is too soon to tell if any debuts will grow to be as popular as the Amazon Echo or Google Nest, the Crew in a Box— a professional-quality remote view production tool— is a bold addition to the industry.
Unsurprisingly, CES also saw many impressive COVID-tech offerings. Razer, a leading expert in hardware design, created the Project Hazel smart face mask that combines the safety of an n95-grade mask with voice projection, LED lights, and UV sterilization. Kinsa created a smart thermometer with the ability to predict viral outbreaks through the collection of aggregated data from thousands of home devices. Additionally, LG unveiled an autonomous anti-Covid robot that uses UV-C to disinfect surfaces that will be used in schools, hospitals, and offices in early 2021.
As the world begins to navigate the second year of COVID-19, we are yet to see the lasting impact that the pandemic will have on the tech industry. One thing is for certain, thanks to the technological advancements made in the wake of the global health crisis, people will continue being able to work, exercise, and learn safely, and successfully, from home long into a post-COVID-19 world.