Redefining your normal and other tech predictions
Thank goodness 2020 is finished. Hopefully 2021 will be better and that in this case not all of my predictions will come true.
- While there is a bit of a joke about simply asking Google if someone wants your personal information, tracking, tracing and personal data capture will increase this year. The other part of this prediction is that the social media giants are very likely to be broken up or at least curtailed in some way by many nations this year as well. The apparent contradiction is explained by greater government tracking, primarily justified by Covid. I've never had to register as I enter a store before but at the time of writing in the past week or so that has become a thing. The written record in a store is less trackable but many nations have built tracking apps that are required to be used in multiple locations now.
- I also expect that there will be some kind of Covid vaccine proof required before travel is authorised. Not sure when this will start but I expect that it will. We may even see some kind of Covid bracelet system pop up as an extension to the Halo Band described below.
- As for my regular predictions, once again I don't see anything other than marginal improvements in monitors and printers. Cameras and associated technology also will have only incremental updates. CPUs will improve as usual, and along basically the same path they usually do. They will be ready in time for next year's smartphones. As covered in my last article, the Snapdragon 888 will be the flagship in this year's models. Solid-state drives will become more popular but regular hard drives will increase in size and may hit 20TB this year. The power in the latest CPUs for mobile devices is close to that of a PC from not all that long ago. I expect to see a lot more standalone Wi-Fi or Bluetooth monitors start to appear in the marketplace as an optional extra because of this.
- Thumb drives of 2-4TB will become more common and 1TB will be affordable in the microSD range this year. Originally delayed by Huawei issues, 5G will finally penetrate the market in 2021 and any new smartphone above the lower range will include support for this technology at least at the basic connectivity level.
- Connectivity will continue to be a primary issue this year as organisations have more people working remotely or from home. Along with this I expect software to improve to facilitate communications between individuals and groups. Ultimately, if the technology gets good enough, the office could become a simple telecommunications hub or basic front office. This will have a big impact on providers of office space and I expect that industry to suffer this year.
- There should be a general recovery after a disastrous 2020 as factories return to full production and supply chains start up again. What remains to be seen, and something I can't predict, is which organisations will collapse as a result of Covid lockdowns and which will survive. One easy prediction here is that smaller-to-medium-sized outfits are more likely to collapse versus larger multinationals, but this will be very industry and services specific. It will be a long time before the travel industry recovers, as one example.
- Your new Amazon personal surveillance device is the Halo Band. It is like a Fitbit but it sends info directly back to Amazon. It has been described as a listening device, it comes with a built-in microphone, but is marketed as a health and fitness tool. According to Jeff Bezos, it helps people stay healthy by probing their bodies with proprietary scanning technology. It does not have a screen, sounds or vibrations. It apparently scans your fat levels and analyses your voice for tone and other variations. To date however there does not seem to be any use from the consumer perspective for all of this data being collected, instead it is like a wearable Alexa without the feedback. You can pay US$4 (120 baht) per month for a service that gives some data on your health to an app. Not a product I ever see myself buying.
- The UN has announced its biometric digital ID wallet for its employees, covering human resources, medical status, travel, payroll and pensions. There will be different forms of digital travel credentials up to and including those not requiring any physical documentation. I'm guessing some kind of implant. How this works exactly remains to be seen as it is rolled out.
- How quickly things happen and recover will depend on a successful rollout of vaccines across a wide enough swathe of the global population. I don't expect everyone in the world to be vaccinated by the end of 2021 and there could be multiple Covid variants by the end of the year. Vaccine manufacturers will of course do well unless their version is a failure. It will be a long time before the world returns to normal, however you may define that term.
James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at email@example.com.