Every big company is going to release something noteworthy in 2020, but all we’ve are got is rumors and dreams to work with right now.
That’s not going to stop us from speculating about the potential for revolutionary tech. Think beyond brighter screens, better cameras, and other incremental changes. These are things we expect to see in 2020 that could really shake things up.
Affordable 5G phones and more expansive networks
By now, you probably at least know what mobile 5G is. Carriers like Verizon are already advertising their 5G networks on TV, even though very few devices even support it in the cities where it’s available. The worst part is you can’t really get a 5G-compatible phone for less than $1,000 right now.
That isn’t guaranteed to change next year, but it seems more likely than not. More companies (we’re looking at you, Apple) will hop on the bandwagon, production will be streamlined, and fingers crossed, 5G phones will be slightly more affordable. With networks expanding, it might finally make sense to own a 5G phone by the end of 2020.
That blazing fast speed could enable some wild new habits. People could start downloading entire seasons of TV shows off Netflix in minutes on their phones, all while they’re walking around outside. New types of online mobile gaming could be enabled, too, if developers can trust that more people are near super-fast mobile networks.
And now for the really fun part: The tech that powers 5G networks could interfere with weather satellites, making it harder to get accurate forecasts in an era of climate change and powerful natural disasters. Cool!
PlayStation 5/Xbox Series X
By the time we get to the next holiday season, it will have been seven years since the last new PlayStation and Xbox consoles launched. The PS4 Pro and Xbox One X were powerful revisions, sure, but they didn’t enable any new experiences. They just made existing experiences a little better.
Details are still pretty scarce, but the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have both been officially announced for holiday 2020. Sony has been a little more forthright with specs, confirming the PS5 will come with a solid state drive, a first for game consoles. In layman’s terms, that little hard drive means that games could significantly reduce, or even maybe eliminate, load times.
If you play console games, think about how much time you spend waiting for things to load. Imagine not having to do that anymore. Sounds nice, right? Aside from that nice quality-of-life boost, it could enable developers to design bigger, more immersive worlds that players can navigate in a flash.
Aside from that, the PS5 will let you choose to install just single player or multiplayer portions of games. Meanwhile, the new Xbox will let you suspend multiple games at once. Nifty.
Another little bonus: The PS5 will play 4K Blu-Ray discs, something the Xbox One X already does. Those of us who like physical media more than streaming can now bask in the knowledge that tens or hundreds of millions of people will have UHD Blu-Ray players in their homes.
VR hand tracking
If 2019 was the year real VR became financially accessible, 2020 could be the year that accessibility extends to pure usability thanks to two little words: Hand tracking.
Up until now, high-end VR contraptions have required the use of motion controllers to interact with objects in the digital realm. The Oculus controllers, for example, work well enough and are pretty comfortable, but they’re not for everybody. It can be a little disorienting for newcomers to be immersed in a virtual world without the ability to use their actual hands for things.
Oculus Quest hand tracking is already available as an early-access software update, but it should expand in 2020 to support more apps and games. Take a look at one example of how it works:
Looks nice, right? Poking at things with your real digits is a lot more intuitive than relying on a proprietary controller. It’s what VR always should have been, but understandably couldn’t be until the technology was there.
If Oculus and other VR manufacturers are able to nail hand tracking in 2020, it could open up a whole new world of design possibilities for VR experiences.
Microsoft Surface Duo/Neo
We saw a decent amount of foldable tech in 2019, but none of it really made a splash aside from dominating Twitter for a day or two. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold failed to justify itself even in the more functional second revision, while Motorola’s new foldable Razr revival is still a wild card.
Microsoft, on other hand, caught our attention back in October with the announcement of two devices that might fulfill the foldable promise without actually using foldable screens. The Surface Neo tablet and Surface Duo phone use dual touch screens to potentially give users tons of real estate, without the fear of a foldable screen going haywire.
You might be able to watch Netflix on one screen while chatting with a friend or writing emails on the other. Dragging elements between screens looked pretty intuitive and seamless at Microsoft’s reveal event, but since we didn’t get our hands on either device at the time, we can’t promise they work as intended.
If Microsoft is able to make them work and put together a solid sales pitch, it could start a new trend that other phone and tablet makers follow.
Or it could be a miserable, hilarious failure. That would be fun in its own way.
Back on the gaming front, big name companies like Microsoft and Google figure internet infrastructure in the United States is good enough to launch game streaming services. Yes, with the recently sort-of-launched Google Stadia and the forthcoming Microsoft xCloud, you can stream video games over the internet without spending hundreds on powerful hardware.
It’s ambitious because video games, unlike TV shows and movies, require constant user inputs to work. Those inputs need to be responsive, which is a problem when you factor in internet latency. Microsoft and Google are confident in their tech, but we’ll need to wait and see what happens when it’s in the hands of as many people as possible.
Cloud gaming feels like a boom-or-bust proposition. If it works, you might see some people decide not to buy those beefy new consoles we talked about earlier because they can play high-end games in a web browser or on a Chromecast for way less money. The downside of this is that you don’t really own anything you buy in a streamed marketplace, and if these services ever shut down, the games could be gone forever.
It could also be a complete dumpster fire because the internet, frankly, sucks in large swaths of the U.S. If someone plugs in an Xbox and shoves a disc into the drive, it’s guaranteed to be playable. That guarantee doesn’t necessarily exist with cloud gaming, and some people might swear it off entirely because of that.
Again, it’s possible none of these consumer tech gadgets and trends change a darn thing in the long run. But the fun lies in the possibility. New (or new-ish) ideas are always more interesting than another new phone with a better camera, even if they don’t stick the landing.
- A2Z Technologies Enters into Contract with Nasdaq-Listed Israel Defense Technology Company – Yahoo Finance
- New Technology Firm Focuses on Global Carrier Management Market – Yahoo Finance
- Technology Reporter – CALmatters
- The Big Story in Construction Technology May not be What You Think… – Yahoo Finance
- Only Telephones Are Good – The Atlantic
- Influencers: Influencers In Technology – GlobeSt.com
- Analysis | The Technology 202: Iowa caucus delays test tech companies’ policies on falsehoods – The Washington Post
- Six Technology Trends That Will Shape Businesses In 2020 – Forbes
- The forefront of technology innovation – PMLiVE