Over the past few years, exciting developments in technologies including artificial intelligence, wireless connectivity, and augmented and virtual realities have introduced new conveniences and opportunities that improve everyday work and living. Consumers have seen technology make big changes in the ways they do everything from completing household chores and accessing needed goods to playing games and staying in touch with family and friends.
Like anyone else, tech experts are excited when an impressive new piece of consumer tech hits the headlines, but they know better than most which high-profile tech services and tools truly make a widespread, lasting impact. Here, 15 members of Forbes Technology Council share some of the brand-new, revamped and rediscovered technologies that have truly impressed them in recent years.
High-speed mobile devices will unlock video and greater connectivity in all venues—work, home and on the go. This is the reason we are seeing the extraordinary growth of reels on sites such as TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat and so on. The Internet of Things will also benefit from 5G connectivity. Look for the penetration of 5G devices and companies that provide 5G-related services telling you more about the adoption of 5G. – Henri Isenberg, ReviewInc
2. Blockchain And The Internet Of Things
Blockchain and the IoT are both technologies that are already having significant and varied applications in consumer tech. Blockchain will enable data sharing while maintaining privacy via solutions such as zero-knowledge proof. The IoT is already having an impact through solutions including AirTag, Fitbit and other wearables. These enable privacy and better health, both of which are currently hot topics for consumers. – Ken Knapton, Progrexion
3. Artificial Intelligence
I’d vote for the AI that has taken tech solutions to a new level, whether it’s image recognition or decision-making. Other technologies, such as big data, have enabled AI to develop to where it is now. However, AI has a huge variety of implementations and enormous opportunities. The agriculture industry can use it to predict crop yields, city planners for traffic management, e-commerce to improve the user experience and the auto industry to produce self-driving cars. – Nadya Knysh, a1qa
As both a tech specialist and a consumer, I believe household robots have changed our lives. Smart vacuums, while not new, quickly became popular. Recently, we have seen both task-based robots and much more sophisticated social robots become commonplace. The smallest of tasks around the house are now fully automated, greatly owing to the brilliant progress in artificial intelligence and computer vision. – Yasin Altaf, GoodCore Software
5. The Metaverse
Consumer tech is a broad category that has brought unique experiences to our routine lives. The metaverse is one consumer-facing technology that has opened up a world of its own around consumer electronics. It is likely that in the future, tech organizations will explore the software side to design improved products such as wearable vests, augmented and virtual reality glasses, and more. – Dharmesh Acharya, Radixweb
Cruise self-driving robotaxis, which recently launched in San Francisco, are impressive. They’re just a particularly advanced version of machines working independently, but soon automated lawnmowers, vacuums and delivery drones will join cars, trucks and general-purpose robots. – Matthew Wallace, Faction, Inc.
7. QR Codes
I’ve got to put my vote in for the humble QR code. This piece of “tech” sat dormant for decades, but Covid and the emphasis on convenience and minimal touch provided QR codes their long-overdue time to shine. – Casey Ellis, Bugcrowd
8. Household Automation
My choice is the tech that removes mundane tasks from our lives. The lights in my house turn on every night 20 minutes before sunset; I don’t have to think about it or say anything to a device. My house optimizes energy usage based on how much my solar panels are producing and whether a storm is coming. True automation—where I don’t have to even think about these tasks anymore—is most exciting to me. – Laureen Knudsen, Broadcom
9. Virtual Reality Hardware
The evolution of Oculus into Oculus Quest 2 is an incredible step forward for virtual reality—one that would have been difficult to fathom just a few short years ago. With this new device, VR gaming has been transformed, and there’s now a fast-growing app store. Thanks to this development growth, VR has become mainstream and will rapidly gain increased utility over the next few years. – Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media
10. Fixed Wireless Access
Fixed wireless access is not a new concept; it entails substituting wireless for wired connections over the last mile. The speeds offered by 5G FWA, flat pricing and no-overage plans from service providers, and the superior economics of last-mile wireless delivery compared to wired infrastructure make 5G FWA an impressive alternative for providing internet connectivity to consumer homes. – Ritesh Mukherjee, Inseego
11. Privacy-Forward Communications Apps
We are becoming more concerned about privacy, and developers are noticing! The use of messaging and communications apps such as Signal and Marco Polo has become more common among privacy-conscious users. These apps are disrupting a space that has historically been dependent on data sharing. It will be interesting to see what happens as consumers’ expectations shift toward more privacy protections. – Elena Elkina, Aleada Consulting
12. Tech-Enabled Curbside Pickup
When the pandemic hit, in-store traffic dropped, but customer demand remained high. Using cloud-native tech, companies such as Home Depot and Walmart were able to launch curbside pickup—fast. This was a total game-changer. Now, customers across tons of locations can get instant, on-demand access to the items they need and real-time updates on availability, pickup time and location. – Chet Kapoor, DataStax
13. Wireless Earbuds
Although they’ve been around for a few years, wireless earbuds have become far more effective and far more important in helping knowledge economy workers do their jobs. The ability to shift between desktop and mobile apps with a good set of Bluetooth earbuds allows one to seamlessly transition between work environments. That’s priceless for those of us who like to move our bodies once in a while! – David Glazer, Kroll
14. Portable Power Stations
The new generation of portable power stations, with integrated solar power generation, has created a breakthrough for consumers who need portable power on trips or protection against power outages. Based on advances in lithium-ion battery technology, they fill an important need, especially as we plan for unexpected storms, in an age when we rely heavily on our electronic devices. – William Bain, ScaleOut Software, Inc.
15. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has begun to affect consumers even more directly—examples include video games and productivity software. Now, with streaming options available through services including GeForce NOW, Stadia and Xbox Cloud Gaming, gamers can access great experiences without having to purchase expensive hardware (as long as they have a decent quality internet connection). – Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket
Originally published on Forbes.com.