Futurologists take a look into the next decades in impressive visions – but we don’t need to look that far ahead. In the coming year, we may already have groundbreaking innovations in stores that will use ever more sophisticated technologies. What are the most exciting technology trends in 2021?
We see air taxis, autonomously driving cars, sophisticated transport systems, vehicles changing from going to flying, holographic entertainment systems, robots playing soccer, shopping drones that fly automatically, an android as a butler, the car as an all-round control centre for everyday life – and a lot more that makes the future comfortable and exciting:
“The World in 2050” is the name of the four-minute video reminiscent of the sci-fi film “Minority Report”. Even more than the cinema film aims to present a future concept that researchers consider realistic.
Perhaps it will be another thirty years before all technology trends are as far as shown in the video. But everything shown is – in some cases not just rudimentary, but already in more concrete stages – already in development or even testing. In short: we are well on the way to the future visualized in the video. And today’s technologies are paving the way, which is why 2021 should be pretty exciting.
Table of Contents
Probably the Most Prominent Technology Trend: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence is increasingly conquering our everyday lives – in all areas. AI often helps us understand the world better – for example, in medicine, where the increase in data will lead to increasingly sophisticated analysis and better healthcare.
Researchers at MIT, for example, have taught an AI to recognize a coronavirus infection from a cough. Maybe in the future, we will diagnose ourselves every morning by briefly coughing into our smartphone.
AI has recently also solved what structure a protein has – a task that biologists have not been able to solve for decades. “The global fight against the coronavirus makes it clear how important it would be to be able to deduce the structure of the corresponding protein quickly and reliably from a known amino acid sequence,” emphasizes the editorial team of the science magazine “Spektrum”.
In the year of the corona crisis, artificial intelligence helps save lives more than ever. Numerous other medical applications with AI and big data prove that necessity makes inventive and creates innovations.
AI can also help with Environmental and Political Challenges
Medicine is just one area where AI is proving to be very helpful. In the environmental sector, too, new AI applications have been sprouting up like mushrooms for months. For example, brand new, the “Tree Canopy Lab” from Google, aims to help cities find more suitable places for tree planting with an AI-supported analysis of satellite images. Or the forecast software “Foresight” from Denmark, which analyzes data from all over the world in seconds and can use it to calculate how the corona crisis, for example, will affect flight and displacement.
In an almost 105-minute documentary, ZDFinfo explores the question of how AI will change the world. The fact that artificial intelligence understands data better and better, learn from it and then draw intelligent conclusions, leads on the one hand to significant improvements, as the current examples listed above show.
But like all technologies, AI can also be used for harmful purposes. One example is the field of media and social networks. Based on almost unlimited data, computers can generate amazingly realistic media content. In a previous post, the intelligent world asked how long we humans can still see the differences.
Technology Trend IoT: Billions of Networked Devices are Around us
From the coffee machine to the toothbrush to all kinds of sensors in and around the house: More and more devices and objects are connected to the Internet – together they fill the Internet of Things, or “IoT” (Internet of Things) for short. This 50-minute Arte contribution provides a comprehensive introduction to the topic:
The statistics portal Statista is forecasting around 25 billion connected devices by the end of 2020 and 50 billion in 2030. All of them collect and transfer data, helping AI and big data expand their analysis base.
The networked devices also include wearables: intelligent clothing, which helps the wearer in practically every imaginable life situation, is considered by researchers and analysts to be one of the most critical future fields.
Electronics have long been so tiny that they fit almost imperceptibly between two layers of fabric. As early as 2015, the intelligent world reported impressive developments in the field of wearables.
Extended Realities as Important helpers in Everyday Life
In addition to classic virtual reality applications, for example, technologies that create enhanced realities (“augmented reality”) are increasingly finding their way into everyday life in the entertainment sector. These can be of great help, for example, when operating increasingly complex machines and systems.
AR applications will increasingly influence the shopping experience and enable educational offers or medical examinations, for example, without users having to be in the same room.
The Computer Understands and Speaks better and better
The quality of the interaction between humans and machines will receive another significant boost in 2021. So-called “voice-based user interfaces” (SBS), better known as voice assistants under names such as Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant, make it possible for us to communicate with computers using voice commands.
Further, so significant improvements can be expected that more and more companies and authorities are using SBS systems to communicate with their customers automatically. This also applies to chatbots in text-based communication channels.
Unusual reactions of the voice assistants like in this satirical video should then be relatively rare …
Quantum Computers turn the Arithmetic World upside down
Experts assume that the first freely programmable quantum computers could be ready for production in the next few years. “The difference between a quantum computer and a normal home PC is about as big as that between a supersonic jet and a zeppelin in terms of performance.”
With this comparison, the science magazine “Quarks” gets to the point. After all, quantum computers are much faster than the fastest supercomputers and will accelerate the development of new drugs and enable more precise predictions of diseases or environmental disasters.
Digital Twins Duplicate the Original
Digital twins, which are valuable insights into the performance of products and processes in practice, mark the next step in product development. Specifically, for example, a real object or effect is digitally copied, and this twin then becomes the object of the action. Changes can then be made with significantly reduced risks and costs.
5G is Becoming the Vehicle for many High-speed Applications
Five years ago, the intelligent world gave an outlook on the fifth generation of cellular network technology. The time has come – the network operators in many countries are building and expanding their 5G mobile networks at high speed. 5G will, therefore, also be one of the most important technology trends in 2021.
Theoretically, a complete episode of a TV series can be transmitted in HD quality in a single (!) Second via 5G. But 5G is less intended for this but much more for more intelligent and stable use of wireless networks, such as communication between networked devices or the implementation of autonomous vehicle systems. It can also be used to implement highly complex augmented reality applications.
However, 5G is also increasingly taking centre stage politically. The 12-minute Arte report linked here is about the competition between the new mobile communications technology’s secret services.
Smart Cities are the Cities of the Future. And Therefore, A Significant Technology Trend
Although cities only make up two per cent of the earth’s surface, they are inhabited by more than half of the world’s population. This is where three-quarters of energy resources are used, and 80 per cent of global CO2 emissions are produced. That is why more and more cities are using smart solutions to improve their everyday management.
Smart cities control resources, mobility, infrastructure and residents so intelligently that the quality of life and work, safety and efficiency increase. High-rise buildings such as the famous Burj Khalifa in Dubai are controlled completely autonomously.
Autonomous Vehicles and Drones
It can already be foreseen at the beginning of the 2020s: This decade will revolve around the “autonomization” of moving, flying and swimming vehicles. Several hundred start-ups worldwide are researching the technology for the fully automated use of cars, trucks, air taxis and ships. You will also find numerous articles on this in the intelligent world, for example, on German companies’ competitiveness in the development of autonomous driving in international comparison.
It is precisely in this area that the hour of artificial intelligence and big data strikes. AI-controlled mini-capsules are supposed to pick up passengers regardless of stops and be optimized so that passengers can always get to their destination without traffic jams reach.
Conclusion: The Next few Years will be Exciting
A three-minute video from “Tech Insider” initially looks like a summary of the most critical points in our vision of technology trends. But in the further course, there are additional aspects that we find at least as exciting.
The compilation is based on a survey by the World Economic Forum of 800 experts and executives. They were asked what they thought the future could look like by 2030. Will the implantable smartphone come as early as 2024? If so, the intelligent world will undoubtedly report on it.