Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter. FTX’s spectacular collapse. Smartphones talking to satellites, and an AI that might be, but probably isn’t, sentient.
2022 was a deeply strange year for technology. So what’s in store for 2023?
As one of the world’s largest tech trade shows, CES is best known for ostentatious displays of innovation and winding corridors of gadgets and consumer electronics from around the world. As the tech industry grapples with mass layoffs, a potential recession and more regulation, as well as the aftereffects of a three-year-old coronavirus pandemic, we’re expecting that to be true even this year. And once you peel back the layers of spectacle, you get a glimpse of the ways our relationships with the tech in our lives could change.
What CES is not, though, is a perfect crystal ball for the near future. (If it were, you would have been able to stroll into a dealership and put down a deposit on a flying car already.)
“CES is a great way to understand the health of ecosystems and tease out underlying trends,” said Avi Greengart, lead analyst at research firm Techsponential. But you’re “unlikely to see the next big thing,” he added.
To help you sift through the noise, here’s our short guide to what you have to celebrate — or stomach — in 2023.
Between continued skepticism and trouble at Meta, it’s not hard to think the future is a bit bleak for the metaverse — but rumors of its demise might be premature.
In a recent survey of 9,000 consumers, the professional services firm Accenture found that 55 percent of respondents said they wanted to become “active users” of the metaverse. And of those meta-optimists, 90 percent wanted to make that leap within the next year, said Kevan Yalowitz, Accenture’s global software and platforms lead.
In the meantime, other companies are busy. HTC — which produced the Vive line of VR headsets — is openly teasing a portable product designed to compete with Meta’s popular Quest 2. Other competitors, including Sharp and Canon, are getting ready to show off prototypes and experiences that could give people more ways and reasons to dive into virtual spaces. And, after years of anticipation, this may be the year Apple finally releases a wearable screen.
None of that necessarily means you’ll find yourself moving through sprawling, immersive, interoperable worlds any sooner — just that people aren’t going to stop talking about it anytime soon.
Thanks to a unifying standard called Matter, 2022 was supposed to be the year in which connected home gadgets — smart lightbulbs, video doorbells, fancy thermostats — all started playing together seamlessly. Buy any of those things, the idea went, and you could control them with any voice assistant or platform you wanted.
Then, Matter’s release was delayed for a few months.
Since the standard’s release in October, the first Matter-compatible products have started trickling into the wild, but it seems that getting the most out of them can be tricky. CES, though, will give us the first big wave of smart-home products that can be controlled from Google Home, the iPhone’s Home app, SmartThings on the Samsung phone or all of the above.
But the push for interoperability may not end there. Apple — which has long used its proprietary Lightning charging system for iPhones and some iPads — has said it will comply with a European Union requirement for USB-C charging for many small electronics. The company is expected to make the switch in time for next year’s iPhone upgrade, which means we may soon be able to carry One Charger To Rule Them All.
CES also is well known for the many gorgeous — and sometimes ludicrous — new televisions on display, but the movies you will watch on them have to come from somewhere. In 2023, the streaming services many of us rely on could start to look different.
After a year of streaming-media drama, including the implosion of CNN Plus and word of an impending HBO Max/Discovery Plus mash-up, Accenture’s Yalowitz said players are being forced to “rethink” their business models.
That could mean that your streaming subscription of choice adds a lower monthly fee propped up by ads or that more of your favorite shows could migrate as media companies continue to duke it out for content rights. And (according to Accenture research, anyway) what many people want is a one-stop shop for all their entertainment — which kind of sounds like the cable bundles many moved away from in the first place.
In the meantime, “you’re absolutely going to see winners and losers emerge,” Yalowitz added, though he wouldn’t name the companies he expected to do poorly.
At a conference known for its flashy gadgets, it is easy for not-so-sexy cybersecurity companies to fade into the background. But in a world where consumers increasingly are exposed to digital crime, these companies could have some of the biggest impact — and not a moment too soon.
Anything that is connected to the internet — train systems, electric vehicles, home security cameras — becomes a potential pathway for cyberattacks. Our friends at the Identify Theft Resource Center expect the new year to bring even more cases of attackers harvesting personally identifiable information to create fake accounts under real names or gain control of existing accounts.
This year, companies from around the world will flaunt their safety solutions, reminding eager techies that the industry’s biggest cybersecurity challenges still lie ahead. And, hopefully, they practice what they preach. Some of the outfits in which people have put their faith to help keep them secure online, including LastPass, have turned out to be more vulnerable than expected, too.
Be honest: Did you pay an app called Lensa to make you some Magic Avatars? Or spend a few minutes talking to ChatGPT? If so, well, you had a lot of company.
For a few weeks, it seemed that the launch of these “generative” AI tools were all anyone was talking about. While some of the initial novelty may have worn off, you can expect to see more such tools emerge soon.
In early December, OpenAI — the company behind ChatGPT — confirmed investments in a handful of AI-focused companies, and it plans to nurture more through an incubator program in a bid to “reimagine products and industries.” Meanwhile, AI image generators such as Midjourney and Stable Diffusion get more sophisticated with each update.
But to what extent should such tools be steered — or curbed — by regulation? (The European Union is slowly working through this question.) How might they be used for good or for ill? If the rise of these tools in 2022 forced us to see how far “creative” AI has come, 2023 will be the first year we collectively chew on how far it should go.
Minding your home. Entertaining your children. Mowing your lawn. Delivering your food. There seems to be a robot for everything, and it feels like most of them will be spending a few days in Las Vegas this week.
Granted, not all of them are meant to serve you face-to-face, and many are unlikely to wind up on sale at a big-box store near you. Some are meant for purely industrial use. Others have been trained to excel at exceedingly specific tasks. (One is purported to be good at harvesting ripe green bell peppers.)
Between companies developing robots for home use and ones making robots to (directly or indirectly) cater to you, it is possible that in 2023, your life will be touched by more machines, even if you don’t recognize that it’s happening. If it’s any consolation, though, robotics experts told us last year that a more sophisticated breed of “social” robots — the kind with which we may be able to build real, fruitful connections — probably won’t go mainstream for a while.
What tech trends are you predicting? Send us a note or drop us an email at email@example.com.
How did we do on our tech predictions for 2022? You be the judge
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How the tech in your life could change in 2023 – The Washington Post