The emerging tech of 2022

In our heads, technology advances as a series of ‘big bang moments’ where we imagine a team of scientists and engineers working away suddenly yelling “eureka!” as their latest invention springs to life.

For the most part, however, technology advances slowly and incrementally — it’s more about those subtle improvements you find annually on the latest incarnation of a smartphone than it is about those big breakthroughs: like the first time you saw a smartphone hit the stores.

As these advances happen so subtly, it’s only when you look back you begin to realise just how far we have come — Anyone who’s fired up an old laptop they found in a cupboard under the stairs will know what we mean! But each year new and exciting technologies do emerge and 2022 looks to be a particularly exciting year.

Smarter homes

Over 20 million of us in the UK are already used to starting the day by asking Google to tell us the morning news, or finishing our day by asking Alexa to wake us up in the morning. But this year things are really going to start getting exciting when it comes to smart speakers.

In the eyes of most consumers, presently, smart home devices are needlessly complicated: their difficulty to set up and operational quirks often make doing something harder rather than easier. Yet in a rare moment of bonhomie Apple, Amazon, Google and Samsung are working together to make smart home products simpler.

They are planning to update and release new software to work with Matter — a new standard protocol that will allow smart home devices to work with one another. Meaning there will be no more having to open Alexa to dim the lights, then opening Apple Home to turn down the heating.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality has been around for a long time, and the words to most people will bring two things to mind 2013’s much-maligned generation 1 Google Glass and the Pokemon Go craze of 2016, but up until now at least for the average consumer AR is mostly seen as a gimmick, until now that is.

Mercedes Benz is pioneering automotive AR technology with the 2022 EQS, an all-electric car that features advanced augmented reality navigation, utilising a heads up display (HUD) which until now only fighter pilots and gamers would be familiar with.

Many modern vehicles feature a basic form of AR presently in their reversing cameras, but Mercedes innovation represents a seismic step forward — with AR addresses appearing on buildings as you drive along.

It’s not just in motoring we’re expecting to see more AR developments this year. Microsoft is seeking to revolutionise the way we work by bringing more practical applications to their HoloLens mixed reality smartglasses.  But, the product did hit a setback when the US army delayed their $22billion roll out of the technology last year.

Enter the metaverse

Now we must move from AR to VR (virtual reality). Facebook was internationally mocked when Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social media platform’s holding company (also formally called Facebook) was being rebranded as ‘Meta’.

But despite the flack, some argue that Mark is just showing his foresight. As this Venture Beat article states “Leaders across diverse industries — including blockchain, gaming, arts, retail, fashion, healthcare, and more — are digging deep to understand the immersive world of the metaverse and how to position themselves as key players in an emerging ecosystem.” In 2022, the term is expected to increasingly show up in headlines.

And many believe that it’s in the world of work in which we will soon be making our first forays into the virtual world. Just like how many of us used Zoom, for the first time in 2020, for work before we started using it for virtual pub quizzes. We may soon all be attending 3-dimensional VR work meetings, shortly before we start socialising in them in our free time.

Self-fertilising crops

Moving away from the realms of computers and information technology, the World Economic Forum reports that 2022, may be the year that we teach plants to fertilise themselves.

Presently up to 2% of all carbon emissions are caused by the millions of tonnes of nitrogen-based fertilisers applied to crops around the world each year. But not all plants need to be fertilised, clever legumes such as beans, peanuts and soy create their own ammonia fertiliser. Through a method of ‘symbiotic molecular communication’ in their root nodules. Researchers are now working to “coax” other plants such as corn into doing the same.

Electric cars go mainstream

There was a point, just a few years ago, when seeing a Tesla hum down the street sparked the same head turns you’d expect from a rare vintage sports car. Today they are as humdrum and commonplace as any other vehicle you see on the road.

This year, however, is when EVs will really ‘go mainstream’ with projections that they will outsell diesel vehicles for the first time.

While 2030’s ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles still feels very far off, EV technology in 2022 will proliferate and throughout the year there will be more offerings from the big hitters such as Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen.

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