A look back at 2019’s techHere are some of the most important consumer technological advances that have defined the past year.
As we venture into 2020, the technological advances of 2019 act as a guiding light to the advances we might see in the upcoming year. The past year has brought some very interesting advancements in consumer technology that has and will continue to define the path that technology is going to take in the future. These technologies have not only changed the way we interact with tech today but have also changed the way the infrastructure around our devices function. Here we take a look at some of the most important consumer technological advances that have defined the past year and should further influence and guide consumer tech in the upcoming year.
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing
In the past year, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become more ubiquitous than ever before. Smartphones now come with dedicated AI chips that aid in various implements like photography, virtual assistants and data processing. Through the use of complicated AI technologies, smartphone companies like Huawei, Samsung and Google have managed to push night mode photography to such an extent that the camera software will automatically fill in light—based on machine learning algorithms to create bright images in environments with minimal light. A good example of this would be the night modes in Huawei’s P30 Pro and Samsung Note 10 Plus. Even smaller smartphone manufacturing companies have implemented some form of AI to further support their camera systems.
Natural Language Processing has also entered the consumer market this year with digital translation devices. Waverly Labs currently sells their Pilot earbuds that act as language translators which currently work with 15 different languages and 42 dialects. Syncing with your phone, the earbuds also send text transcripts to your phone in case you miss anything. Supplementing translation devices, Google has also introduced its voice-to-text transcription service on the latest version of its Android operating system.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
We talk about the immense potential of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) each year but have yet to see the effective implementation of both these technologies in consumer space. Google Lens didn’t pan out as well as consumers hoped and even promising VR technologies of the past like Oculus and HTC Vive have yet to find a good foothold in the consumer space. Why then do we keep talking about AR and VR as important technologies every year? Well, while being disruptive, the tech also holds enormous potential in changing the way we interact with technology. And while VR and AR in its infancy found implementation in bulky and unruly devices, more refined implementations have been pushed in 2019. Focals 2.0 by North is one such example where all of the AR technology has been hidden away inside the frames of the eyewear, which reflects a maturity of the technology unseen in earlier implementations of the technology like Google Glass, with its ugly protruding AR element.
Even in Nepal, companies like Semantic Creations and PaperLift AR have been experimenting, improving and furthering the VR and AR technologies with a local Nepali flavour.
While the electric propulsion technology is not exclusive to 2019, the surge of electric vehicles in Nepal adopted by many denizens in the city is. In 2019, we have seen wide adoption of electric vehicles by companies like Niu scooters and Kia’s Soul EV cars. And with smarter development of electric vehicle technology, many Nepalis are hopping aboard such zero-emission vehicles which is driving up demand, further pushing other local automobile companies to import electric variations of their automobiles. In Kathmandu, even some public buses are now zero-emission and electric.
Further advancements in technology have also pushed electric motors to be more effective while also implementing digital technologies to help monitor and assist drivers. The cost of batteries is also going down by the year making electric vehicles more affordable, while also providing drivers more reach per charge. As prices come down, electric vehicles should be more affordable for Nepali customers as well and with big companies like Tesla constantly pushing for developments in technology, electronic vehicles should only get better in 2020.
Bezel-less and Foldable Smartphone design
Bezel-less displays turned into a norm in 2019. Almost all smartphones tout edge-to-edge displays and even premium laptops and televisions have bezel-less displays. Dell’s new XPS line is one of the most famous bezel-less laptops while companies like Razer and Lenovo have also further pushed the move to sleeker bezel-less screen designs. In the smartphone space, even lower- to mid-ranged devices tout bezel-less designs with front camera cutouts, while companies like Oppo and Xiaomi have already prototyped displays with an invisible front-facing camera inside the display. A long way from 2018’s notched displays, truly bezel-less screens became more of a reality in 2019 with 2020 seemingly pushing this concept further.
Apart from traditional smartphone design, 2019 also saw many smartphone companies experiment with foldable displays. Samsung was one of the pioneers in this aspect, with its release of the Galaxy Fold. While the Fold was an interesting concept, the display saw many problems. And because the screens fold on to each other, questions about the display’s durability are also in question. But with many other big smartphone companies like Huawei, Oppo and Motorola also experimenting with the technology, 2020 might be the year where these companies develop, if not perfect, foldable displays. Both the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei’s Mate X are premium expensive phones as of date, but with further development, the prices might come down a bit with wider market adoption of the technology.