12 February 2020
We live in exciting times. In the past four decades, we’ve seen cassette tapes give way to CD-ROMs, which eventually gave way to MP3s.
We have also witnessed the population of the internet explode to 4.4 billion users and computers shrink from the size of doghouses to handheld smartphones. As we enter the new decade, it’s a thrill to wonder what technology trends might take shape over the next 40 years.
While we can’t make any confident predictions about which technologies will fall and which might spring to life in that time, we have enough evidence to know what’s coming over the next 12 months. Here are the technology trends we can’t wait to see in 2020.
Mobile photography has come a long way since the early days of camera phones. You might have noticed that megapixel counts are getting higher and so is the number of rear cameras on smartphones. AI has also become a common feature in smartphone camera systems and this is enabling mobile photographers to maximise lighting conditions and get the most out of every shot.
Currently, smartphone photography can compete with DSLR cameras and with more computing power and sophisticated sensors on the way, smartphones might surpass traditional cameras in some ways. Over the next year, we can expect to see time-of-flight (ToF) and 3D sensors as standard features in smartphone camera arrays. These will enable smartphone cameras to gain better depth perception and spatial recognition.
You've heard of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). So what is extended reality (XR)? Simply put, XR is an umbrella term for all three technologies and any others we might invent in the new future. For a while, these technologies had individual uses that were mostly confined to the realm of novelty and entertainment. But over the next year, we'll start seeing a blend of applications, which is why a group term is necessary.
Companies are already starting to use XR for a range of purposes. Virtual reality and augmented reality have been combined for simulations and training exercises. Mixed reality has been combined with virtual reality for rapid prototyping. So far, the opportunities are endless for XR.
5G has been a buzzword and tech trend since 4G networks became commercially available. It was the logical evolution of wireless connectivity, but it has had limitations along the way. For one thing, it involved costly infrastructure that would deliver minimal ROI in the consumer market.
This is no longer a concern as telecommunication conglomerates have invested heavily in setting up stable and widespread 5G networks worldwide. Mobile carriers in South Africa have started offering 5G data plans to their consumers. Next year will be the year that 5G finally goes mainstream and becomes a blazing-fast connectivity standard that out-whizzes fibre.
Smartphone design is about to take another evolutionary turn as foldable devices make their debut. Smartphone manufacturers have been tinkering with foldable devices (with foldable screens) for the past few years with mixed results. But advances in technology are slowly but surely ironing out the kinks. In 2020, consumers will become more confident in foldables as the devices become more reliable.
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