As Coronavirus made us all stop and appreciate those in our lives, it has also been a time when we have been able to appreciate the revolutionary technology which is already available to us to keep our lives moving and connected.
From the way we work, shop and socialise, technology has made sure life could adapt and continue as close to normal as possible during a time where lives have been put on hold.
Grocery delivery slots were able to keep the vulnerable safe, face to face meetings were replaced with Zoom calls and the government created an app to help control the spread of the virus.
According to Statista, the onset of this year’s Coronavirus crisis saw online sales increase from 19% in 2019 to a staggering 26.2%, totaling just under £100 billion pounds.
But as we finally start accepting ‘the new normal’ and leave the whirlwind year of 2020 behind, a team of experts have partnered with Futurist Tracey Follows and takepayments to reveal what new technologies we can expect to see shaping our lives from 2021 and beyond.
The eight biggest tech trends to watch in 2021
Pay by card or palm?
Accelerated by the need for hygiene, all kinds of new contactless payment technologies will emerge including biometric-like facial recognition, palm scanning and even perhaps ‘smile to pay’ as transactions become less about physical contact with another human being and more about remote contact with a machine.
Virtual high streets
This year has been the hardest year for Britain’s high streets, as online shopping increased by 129% forcing stores up and down the nation’s already struggling high streets to sadly close up shop for the final time. In 2021 we will see a shift just from purely physical retail to a hybrid of physical and virtual retail.
By 2030 we can expect to find ourselves faced with a virtual-first retail environment where product selection, road testing and payment all happens in a virtual space.
This year Joe Wicks kept the nation moving with his PE lessons as gyms and leisure centres closed, thousands of us had to switch to home workouts and keep an eye on our step count as commutes shortened from one room in the house to another.
This January the pressure to start a new year in great shape, or to regain that pre-Christmas physique will continue to be enforced into new year’s resolutions but tech tracked.
With all the technology that has been gifted over the Christmas period, people will be more invested in their new smart tech to count their steps, monitor their heartbeats and even analyse how their genetics can enhance their mind and body.
The rise of computer-generated influencers
These digital humans will appear in advertising campaigns and sponsorships too. Think Rita Ora 5G advert, but without the human. Much like computer-generated influencers like Lil’ Miquela, they will appear in association with brands but unlike real humans they don’t pose any problems with contract infringements and are a lot less demanding, less likely to break the rules and not to mention costing a lot less too.
Hey Alexa, how should I style my hair?
Personal styling and hairdressing will start to develop customer service processes that offer more digital assistance – think an Alexa for your grooming needs. We have already seen the introduction of try before you buy filters across social media, allowing customers to try different styles before committing to the purchase.
Brands and retailers generally will develop a hybrid helper who is part customer service advisor and part sales assistant to help navigate consumers through personalised choices for skin, hair and make-up. The best example to date might be Yumi for SK-II.
Be AI Valentine
In 2021, we will see a rise of perfect partners in the form of avatars. Humans are spending so much time with digital assistants that we probably have more to say to them than we do to our spouse.
Who said romance is dead? We will see the younger generations sending Valentine’s gifts to their AI companions and – as our personal relationships with artificial intelligence powered machines continue to develop deeper – we can expect that one-day cross-dimensional marriages between young people and their digital companions will become as commonplace here in the UK as it already is in Japan.
Test tube restaurants
The rise of veganism continues to grow as the year of 2021 will be the year of lab grown meat. This year London saw the first meat free butchers open, so as the lab grown meat industry grows, we can only expect it to spark new areas of hospitality. As reported by Trendwatching, ‘The Chicken’ in Tel Aviv is the world’s first lab-grown meat restaurant offering a cultured chicken burger. Cultured meat is produced in bioreactors without the slaughter of an animal. If this testing ground proves popular, we might see lab grown meat restaurants start up all around the world.
Forget Black Friday, think Black Monday to Friday
With four in 10 shoppers making the most of Black Friday sales, we can only expect Black Friday to become bigger every year until it is eventually renamed Black Monday to Friday. Google trends data reveals Black Friday shoppers start searching for the best deal as early as the first week of October and retailers have shifted to offering discounts during the run up to the big day. With everything at a click of a button, you can expect Black Friday to evolve into an in-home virtual experience.