The arrival of 2021 is like the sight of water to a person who has been roaming the desert for days, very welcome and somewhat unbelievable. Because 2020 broke all the rules and laughed at most of the predictions for tech made in 2019, we will only stick to one prediction before moving on to what we see trending in 2021 – the coming year will be about using tech to create a normal we can all live with.
It’s no coincidence that IoT and related tech is on most 2021 trend lists, including this one. IoT has become so ubiquitous and key to daily life that nearly any tech trend will be related to IoT. So without further adieu, here are TECHDesign’s top tech trends to watch in 2021.
1. Digital Twins
A digital twin is a digital replica of a living or non-living physical entity. You may be asking yourself, what’s the value in that?
To put it plainly, having a digital copy of a physical object that stays up to date with any physical changes that the real-world thing is going through carries a lot of value. By way of various IoT sensors and hardware combined with certain AI, you no longer need to be on-site to check on the condition of whatever you need to check on. Because this is done electronically, your digital twins can be monitored from whichever workspace is ideal for you or your team. Also, if you scale this idea up to include multiple physical world things, the possibilities are seemingly endless for healthcare, transportation, smart city, industrial, and other applications.
In fact, some industrial sectors are using digital twins to optimize the efficiency, operation schedules, and maintenance times by making digital twins of production machinery and even automated building equipment (like elevators). Consider for a moment what possibilities there may be for digital twins in the healthcare or transportation industries – endless.
Digital twins are a nearly real-time updated digital visual representation of something in the physical world – this tech is not only possible today, it’s got everything to do with IoT and is being implemented now. Let’s keep an eye on it through 2021 as it’s sure to grow in adoption.
There are so many articles and so much buzz about 5g, not many people talked about mmWave last year. mmWave will definitely trend in in 2021. MmWave and 5G are used almost synonymously, but there are key differences between the two. Like the Android Authority’s explanation of 5G mmWave, the mmWave technology is just one part of what future 5G networks will use. You may also have heard about “low band” frequencies and “sub-6GHz,” both of which will also be part of the standard, and when combined will offer up much faster data speeds to customers, among other benefits.
The term mmWave refers to a specific part of the radio frequency spectrum between 24GHz and 100GHz, which have a very short wavelength. This section of the spectrum is pretty much unused, so mmWave technology aims to greatly increase the amount of bandwidth available. Another upside of this mmWave is that it can transfer data incredibly fast over short distances due to its high frequency. In a nutshell, lower frequency bands cover much greater distances but offer slower data speeds, while high-frequency bands cover much smaller areas but can carry much more data.
The objective with mmWave is to increase the data bandwidth available over smaller, densely populated areas. It will be a key part of 5G in many cities, powering data for things like people counting in sports stadiums, malls, and convention centers, as well as basically anywhere data congestion might be a problem. Out in rural towns and villages, sub-6GHz and low bands below 2GHz will probably play a more crucial role in ensuring consistent coverage.
3. “IoB” (Internet of Behavior)
The IoB (Internet of Behavior) is about using data to change our behaviors as humans. With an increase in technologies that sense and gather every moment of daily life — the data that spans the digital and physical worlds can be used to influence behaviors through feedback loops. Working from home, distance education, social distancing, crowd and gathering restriction are some of the recently adopted behavioral changes that COVID brought and may stick with us after the virus is no longer a threat. It opens the door for IoT to be more widely adopted for individuals to monitor themselves as well as the conditions of public spaces anonymously.
The broad reaching idea of the IoB is to gather, combine and process data from many sources – primarily IoT sources. This data can then be converted into a kind of behavior analytic – think of your health training app as a basic example. However, the IoB can go a step further than a standard health app because the idea is to use cross-correlation between these multitudes of devices and sensors in order to better understand your habits and patterns – to help you make changes in behavior. It could also be something as straightforward as a device which can help monitor grocery purchases. Through the gradual deployment of 5G, more data can be collected and communicated between more smart devices, which will enable more automated and correlate-able, IFTTT-based applications.
As Gartner has outlined, some personal, ethical, and possibly societal issues could arise considering how deep into our private lives the IoB will try to get and depending on how companies want to use the data. With the growth and demand for the IoB trending with a steep increase and data privacy laws like the GDPR in the EU, the CCPA in California, and others being implemented in other regions, this close relative to IoT will be very interesting to follow in 2021.
4. Computer Vision AI
AI will deliver even more value to industries and enterprises through 2021 through it’s capabilities in computer vision.
As we’ve seen facial recognition in the news regarding privacy and race related issues, facial recognition has been building itself as a great solution for offices and other places of employment to be used as a clock-in and access control tool. COVID-19 has broadened the benefits of using facial recognition for access control as it is contactless.
Facial recognition is just one aspect of computer vision AI we can expect to expand in 2021. The second most important computer vision analytic type in 2021 will be in what’s known as people counting. It sounds monotonous and boring, counting, but that’s what computers should be for – right? People counting can be applied to a myriad of projects. Under normal circumstances, this tech can help owners and admins understand when they need more staff by seeing high and low foot traffic times in retail shops and correlate that data with train arrival times. In COVID-19 times, this can be used to ensure social distancing and crowd regulations are being followed.
5. IoT Electronics Design and Manufacturing Outsourcing Remains Online
To wrap up this top 5 list, we’re updating one of our predictions from 2018 as it is closely related to the pandemic. With international travel out of the picture for most people next year, using online sources like TECHDesign for IoT electronics design and manufacturing outsourcing will remain online and the services will thrive.
By outsourcing electronics design and manufacturing to services like those offered by TECHDesign, startups can save valuable time, cut costs, avoid cultural and communication problems, protect their money and product, while at the same time increasing efficiency.
What tech will you be following in 2021? Let us know in the comments.