“We’ll be ducking in and out of the metaverse for these immersive digital experiences, and that’s why I say they will eventually become inextricably linked with our physical reality,” predicts Steve Koenig, VP of Research for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). The above interview provides additional insight into trends to expect from this week’s CES2022, produced by CTA. A big takeaway is that the technology building blocks are available to build the next generation of the web; the so-called metaverse.
Some CES2022 Trends #
To some extent the consumer is driving demand for these fundament elements of this next generation of the web, as the CTA forecasts 2.8% growth in consumer technology hardware and software/services in 2022, reaching a total of $505B in retail revenues.
Although the 2022 projection is down from 2021’s blistering post-recession growth of 9.6%, the 6.0% expected growth in software/services is evidence of, as Koenig stated in his presentation, that people are willing to pay for premium experiences. Device connectivity is a must-have to create associated services and deliver experiences that go beyond the point of sale. CTA research indicates that people are sticking with services, whether those are streaming, wellness/lifestyle, or food delivery.
In his stage presentation, he spoke of the delays of chips and ships and that although there will be some relief in the short term from increasing shifts and adding lines to existing plants, it will probably be mid-decade before new fabs from the likes of Intel, Samsung and TSMC are available. A benefit to this new production will be a greater geodiversity in the semiconductor supply chain.
He points out that some of the autonomous trucking and cargo moving technologies on display, from companies like TU Simple and Evocargo, could help relieve driver shortages. It isn’t about replacing humans, but augmenting them and making them more effective.
For instance, at CES Unveiled, Deep Brain AI’s Felix J. Kim, spoke of their efforts to use artificial intelligence to create a digital twin of a doctor, so that a patient or a patient’s family can have their questions answered when the human version of the doctor is not available.
This leads to another element of the metaverse, which is XR (Augmented/Virtual Reality). Enterprises are a huge driver of this trend, through what Koenig classifies as five pillars; 1) virtual meetings, 2) simulations/digital twins, 3) remote collaboration, 4) immersive design, and 5) marketing and sales. With its benefit of allowing tetherless immersive experiences, thanks to its low latency and high speeds, 5G is another of the building blocks that will enable the metaverse.
From 56k to the Metaverse and Beyond #
Koenig likens today’s world to the 56k world of the late 1990s. It was clear at that time that the world would change, but no one could predict the details and the associated timing. The building blocks to change the way we live are clearly here at CES2022, but the long-term applications and implications are not crystal clear.
For instance, he suggests that a virtual assistant might be able to provide the proactive fashion advice that normally a spouse provides. Granted, there are smartphone apps that may do this sort of thing today. Tomorrow, however, it might be as seamless as your virtual assistant telling you that your tie is too wide before you make a fashion faux pas. It will just happen without active user intervention.
We are also seeing some inklings of the future linkage between humans and ubiquitous computing and how it will change the interaction with the physical world. Whether it is major league sports requiring a mobile app for attendance or turn-by-turn directions, the level of dependence on connectivity and compute power is greater than ever.
As Koenig alludes to, although we have come a long way from the funny sounds of a dial-up modem, we are still at the beginning of a world that will be completely changed in 2045 by the trends seen in 2022.