If there’s anything we have learned in 2020, it is that world events can be unpredictable. The world-changing repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic certainly shifted and accelerated trends in technology. In 2020, predominant aspects of technology centered around helping humankind cope with the evolving pandemic, whether that was video chat software, remote working aids, home-schooling platforms, online shopping, virtual assistance, healthcare and so forth. As we enter into 2021, thanks to science and technology, we do have a vaccination for COVID-19, but that does not necessarily mean that things will return to normal any time soon, much of 2021 can probably be assumed to be conducted under the shadow of COVID-19. However, that does not mean that developments aren’t being made in technology sectors and trends can still be predicted. In many ways COVID-19 has accelerated and enhanced our digital usage and reliance on technology. Here are some predictions for 2021:
Artificial Intelligence has been at the forefront of up and coming design trends for many years and has such a wide-spread usage that can be (and is) integrated into almost all areas of industry and society, from healthcare to business, to entertainment to computing and so forth. On Artificial Intelligence, Forbes predicted: ‘from computer vision systems monitoring the capacity of public areas to analyzing the interactions uncovered through contact tracing initiatives, self-learning algorithms will spot connections and insights that would go unnoticed by manual human analysis. They will help us predict demand for services from hospitals and other healthcare providers, and allow administrators to make better decisions about when and where to deploy resources.’ Adding that businesses will utilise AI to understand customer behaviours, within the realms of online shopping, socialising, remote working and so forth.
Pandemic Supporting Technology
Remote working is likely here to stay for many industries. The BBC reported: ‘according to a survey conducted for CCS Insights, 60% of business leaders in Western Europe and North America expect at least 25% of their workforce, and in some cases all of their staff, to work at least partly from home – even when the pandemic is over.’ Whilst this does not necessarily mean new technology will be developed, more companies will need to utilize home working technology, opening the market for software that allows companies to collaborate remotely, manage projects and so forth.
Further, the pandemic has highlighted a need for facilities such as online shopping services for groceries, to toiletries, to essentials, to entertainment and therefore retailers may look to increase their online presence and utilize technology to do so.
The move to remote working and an increased reliance on digital technologies will highlight the overdue need for cyber security, which will hopefully mean that progress will be made in that area – from technological solutions to regulations and laws.
Many have predicted that in 2021 robotics will become a more ingrained aspect of our public and private lives. Robots are already being used in factories and businesses but they may be integrated into public spaces such as shops and hospitals too. The demand for non-contact solutions due to the coronavirus pandemic may warrant in robotic helpers. Autonomous cars have been being developed for some time, and according to the BBC, already in ‘Phoenix, Arizona more than 300 cars are operating by themselves, collecting and dropping off passengers with no human driver at the wheel.’ The service is offered by Waymo One service and backed by Alphabet (Google’s parent company).
In terms of the pandemic, drones are already available and may be used to deliver medicine, identify high risk areas of transmission and so forth. Forbes wrote ‘In recent years we have seen the emergence of robots in the care and assisted living sectors, and these will become increasingly important, particularly when it comes to interacting with members of society who are most vulnerable to infection, such as the elderly. Rather than entirely replacing the human interaction with caregivers that is so important to many, we can expect robotic devices to be used to provide new channels of communication, such as access to 24/7 in-home help, as well as to simply provide companionship at times when it may not be safe to be sending nursing staff into homes. Additionally, companies finding themselves with premises that, while empty, still require maintenance and upkeep, will turn to robotics providers for services such as cleaning and security. This activity has already led to soaring stock prices for enterprises involved in supplying robots.’