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2020 Top Tech Trends

Written by Aaron Chen (Garage Society) 

 

Song to set the mood: Technologic by Daft Punk

 

Editor’s note: In December 2019, Garage Academy hosted a panel discussion for fellow techies to keep up on the latest tech trends featuring tech venture capitalist Furuzonfar Zehni and tech entrepreneur Chris Schrader. In this article, we have curated a summary (with added elaboration and research) of the excerpt we captured from the evening of our panel discussion, which you can view here

2020 is bound to be a big year for tech. New trends at the forefront of the future of work have been accelerated by what is now the world’s biggest work-from-home experiment, with companies like Zoom capitalizing on the home office trend. Working from home is only the tip of the iceberg of the shifting landscape within the tech sector. In many ways the home is now becoming the new battleground for tech, with each piece of your precious gadgets fighting for your time and attention, from streaming to gaming, virtual assistants to online teachers, our living spaces are increasingly becoming our hub of a glimpse into the future, powered by giants like Netflix, Disney, Sony, Microsoft and Amazon. With so much on-the-line (literally), what does tech have in store for us in 2020? It’s time for us to dive into the latest tech trends. 

 

  1. Health is the New Wealth (Furuz’s pick)

With the Coronavirus outbreak continuing to wreak havoc on the global economy, public health awareness is at an all-time high. While the world continues to obsess over Fintech and deep tech, medical technology is slowly gaining its foothold, with wearables leading the charge. 

 

Traditionally, we have to schedule regular body checks at medical institutions in order to collect a plethora of data and have an accurate analysis of our health condition. Now, this data can be collected almost instantaneously, greatly assisting medical decisions and provisions. 

 

Ever notice the native apps pre-installed on your smart devices, not-so-discreetly collecting your health data in the background? Big data on sleep analysis, daily activities, and screen time are just some of the metrics that technology companies are collecting from you. Last September, Apple announced three cutting edge studies in conjunction with leading medical institutions with more than 400,000 Apple watch users agreed to participate as data providers. Medical professionals have used wearables to constantly monitor the biometrics feedback from patients and then use AI to notify and alert a dedicated team about an individual who may be at high risk also on their smart wearables so they may take the necessary precautions and actions to counteract. 


 

  1. Knowledge is Power - ed by Tech (Furuz’s pick)

With class cancellation, school suspension, and online teaching becoming the norm, EdTech is receiving greater attention and higher demand than ever - not only from working professionals but also parents and pupils alike. 

 

According to Deloitte, the Chinese education market should reach $715 billion by 2025 and be responsible for creating seven new billionaires. With schools closed and classes suspended, tiger moms will not easily let their cubs off the hook and will be eagerly looking for ways to conduct learning through online courses and materials - an EdTech USP that is now looking more attractive than ever amidst the Corona-lockdown. Chinese education startup VIPKID, valued over $1billion and one of the world’s biggest online education platforms, connects some 70,000 English teachers in the US with more than 600,000 students in China through the internet.   

 

Even up in tertiary education institutions, teaching has been moved online almost entirely in the face of the pandemic - with the prestigious University of Hong Kong announcing this week that the remainder of its semester will be conducted online, which has been powered by pre-recorded video lessons as well as live lectures hosted through the promising video-conferencing tool Zoom

 

  1. Up in the Clouds  

The possibilities are up in the clouds. Cloud computing is revolutionizing businesses in ways not before seen: instantaneous access to all your files and data at your fingertips leading to higher work efficiency and greater access. A champion emerging in the eye of the storm, ZOOM, a cloud-based video conferencing tool, has seen its shares soar as businesses try to adapt to working remotely and home office practices amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Security provided by cloud services mitigates the risk of data loss or theft by not relying on a single source of data storage on a single device but on storing it in a remote location to access at a preferred time in the future on multiple devices. The Pentagon, the institution known for its highest and most stringent level of security, broke the internet when it awarded a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft, which prompted rival cloud service provider giant Amazon Web Services to file a lawsuit against Microsoft citing unfair competitive advantage and “unmistakable bias” in the awarding process. Though currently an impasse, cloud computing is a trend even the Pentagon has to jump in as an attempt to modernize its IT operations.

 

Cost savings is another reason why Cloud Computing is increasingly becoming the trend. Remember back when people were paying 2 or 3 grand for enterprise software like Microsoft Office and Adobe suite? Those days are no more when the cloud computing technology came along and significantly lowered that price to a few dollars subscription fee. The new subscription models and pricing plan enabled by cloud computing made it possible to spread fees across time with small recurring fees instead of a one-time large sum and as a result make these software more accessible than ever. Increasingly, cloud computing is becoming the trend as it provides immediacy and accessibility at a more affordable price than ever, allowing even smaller businesses to champion their cause without breaking their banks. 

 

  1. Beyond the Stars (Furuz’s pick)

The Space Race is back. A long-forgotten dream of the past is now being revived as we see increasingly more pieces being moved in the private sector to advance the commoditization of space travel and tourism; investors are buying in as we see Virgin Galactic’s shares skyrocketed nearly 200% already this year. 

 

From Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to fellow billionaires Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin - the new world of celebrity entrepreneurs are focused on making space tourism a reality and inching us towards a new age of commercialization of the space tech industry. What was once dubbed as highly romanticized, ‘Space Travel’ is becoming a reality before our very own eyes from Virgin Galactic offering a 90-minute flight to the edge of space (an altitude of around 62 miles up above sea level) for $250,000 to Axiom Space’s top of the range $55 million ‘spacation’ for a 10-day stay at the International Space Station. 

 

It is a very exciting sector to watch for novelty’s sake, but one with high risk and volatility. 2020 may be the year where we get a clearer picture to gauge and see how this all plays out - whether commercial space tech will take flight or crash and burn. 

 

Furuz’s Pick for company to watch: Spire

 

  1. Pay to Play (Chris’s pick)

Seven years since the marquee reveal of the current generation of gaming consoles, Sony and Microsoft are scheduled to release the next generation of their highly anticipated gaming consoles - PS5 and XBOX respectively - this holiday season. Although console gaming remains wildly popular and remains one of the most lucrative and exciting categories in the gaming sector, this new release of consoles could very well mark the last of its kind and the end of an era of console gaming as the world moves towards cloud-based online services - gaming is no exception to that trend. Google has launched its cloud gaming service Stadia and Microsoft is teasing its XBOX Project xCloud already as it runs its betas and tests before an official launch. It is no surprise that these content giants are looking to enter this new segment swiftly with the cloud gaming market expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 24.45% projected to reach a valuation of USD 4901.3 Million by 2025

 

Chris’s Pick for company to watch: Sandbox VR

 

  1. The Stream Wars

There is a new king in town in the magical kingdom known as Disney - Bob Chapek took over the CEO helm from Bob Iger, who was the mastermind behind the launch of Disney+, the company’s own streaming service - essentially declaring war on players like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and HBO. With thousands of titles and content instantly accessible at the users’ fingertips, the attraction is greater than ever for those who are trapped home by the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak with limited mobility and unlimited boredom. The global video streaming market size was valued at $38.56 billion in 2018 and its future growth is far from over yet; it is projected to reach $149.34 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 18.3% from 2019 to 2026. The Stream Wars have taken over the digital world by storm and it shows no signs of slowing down. 

 

  1. Anti-Tech Tech Club

A trend that is subtly but surely overtaking and permeating every single corner of the tech industry is the proliferation of tech stacks. A tech stack is essentially the underlying elements and infrastructure of a web or mobile application. Each entity can have its own tech stack - for example, iOS and Android - or on a more macro level, even countries can have its own tech stacks like the US and Chinese tech stacks that segregate and isolate the transferability of applications across different platforms and regions. An application built using the US tech stacks will render useless in the Chinese markets.  As technology grows and we become hyperconnected, tech stacks are counterintuitively making us more isolationist and separated than ever on the flip side. Is this simply a glimpse into the magnificent yet terrifying future that we are heading into?

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