When it comes to consumer tech, 2021 is going to continue to be driven by our social conditions until a COVID-19 vaccine is plentiful, available and immunity levels reach a safe level again. Without that protection in place, consumer tech will continue to keep finding ways to make staying at home tolerable, livable or entertaining to get through yet another month of social isolation. No surprise then, the 7 technology trends for 2021 are:
The number one protection that actually has an effect against COVID continues to be the mask. So, Razer, a company well known for consumer technology in the form of laptops took a leap and positioned themselves in the semi-permanent mask market for facial and breathing protection. There was already high demand for masks that were easier to breath through, and the typical cloth or medical mask was not as effective as a stifling n95-grade version. So, Razer focused on building a mask that met both criteria. Adding in voice projection was also a smart move too since everyone struggled in 2020 to hear each other speaking muffled behind mask layers. With a vaccine continuing to be haphazard in distribution, it is unlikely the full population will receive protection until well into the year, which means Razer’s mask technology will likely continue to sell. And, even with a vaccine, a mask is still urged until COVID is wiped out. LG, Targus and Nobi tried to come up with their tech-masks, but Razer cornered the market on this product for 2021.
Still Learning From Home
Web meetings just aren’t cutting it, especially for grade school learning. As a result, consumer tech is demanding solutions and better ways of helping kids stay engaged and work through their classwork at home without them ending on the floor in five minutes from sheer boredom. A lot of consumer dollars are being spent on furniture designed to make tech work easier or to engage with it, including gaming chairs. After all, who wants to feel like their tailbone has been kicked repeatedly after six hours of sitting all day long? No wonder kids want to get up and move.
Learning also doesn’t have to be tied to a screen. Lots of parents are realizing they can use artificial intelligence tools to make learning practical for their kids with engagement versus just listening and watching. So, interactive teaching tools are going to continue to see a spike as long as kids have to stay out of the classrooms for the year.
The Robots are Here
Believe or not, there is something soothing about watching a robot clean the carpet, skittering back and forth in random bumping directions as it goes. And that mindless functionary has had big demand in 2020 and will in 2021 as a result of people needing to spend their time in meetings and minding the kids versus cleaning the home. Cleaning robots are proliferating in all types and forms. Aside from the standard carpet vacuum type, robots can handle floors, walls, monitoring motion and even feeding the animals or watching the newborn for problems. And some creative types are even become functional at bringing people food from room to room. Who says you can’t have your dinner and eat it without leaving the bedroom too?
Some Things Never Change, Like Big TVs
Being stuck at home was a perfect excuse for getting a bigger TV, and with tax refunds coming in March and April as well as possibly another stimulus check, folks are sizing up the next big smart screen for even more home entertainment. The 55-inch panel TV has become the minimum floor, with many opting for the 84-inch size or bigger. And big screens don’t stop with the TV. One of the hottest screen sellers has been expansive computer monitors which will continue to sell hot in 2021.
Good Luck Finding a Decent Graphics Video Card
Between stay-at-home computing, more time for gaming, and an exponentially growing interest in cryptocurrency and mining it, personal computer graphics video cards have been selling out of stock repeatedly. Many of the best GPU cards are repeatedly on backorder and will continue to be through 2021. Many gaming PC kits sold at stores like Best Buy are actually having to be constructed with older graphics cards by manufacturers, even if brand new retail, because the higher end cards simply aren’t available in high volume. The good cards are easily selling for $800 to $1,300, putting incredible pressure on finding a decent lower end card for a reasonable price. There appears to be no relaxing of this graphics deficit in 2021 either.
5G This, 5G That
If you haven’t noticed, 4G became passe’ in 2020. Every new phone and mobile device worth its salt is running with 5G for a communications protocol. Unfortunately, networks are still catching up, so while it looks great to have 5G appear on a smartphone, the local cell tower may not support it yet. This should likely be upgraded by mid to the end of 2021. Demand is high for the latest phones given how fast they download dozens of megabytes in a blip, which used to take a screaming baud modem a week to do provide the same. It’s amazing how things have advanced in decade or two.
There’s No Mirror in that Camera!
If you’re a camera-tech junkie, you will have noticed that mirror-less digital cameras are proliferating like crazy. Where the digital camera did away with the film camera, the mirror-less is the next evolution of the digital camera. Quietly but efficiently, camera tech sees no reason to go through reflection when a direct image is just as good. So out goes the reflex part of a DSLR camera, and in comes the latest tech version of the digital camera design with a direct image capture. Many have argued the difference in photography is a massive leap ahead. It also gives the camera industry a good reason to sell a whole new line of cameras to consumers as well.