2021 has begun, and with it comes the yearly rollout of new technology predictions. This year will be tough but made possible with the help of technology, like it or not. New spaces, products, and ways of thinking are on the agenda, so let’s get to it.
What remote learning is tough? You don’t say. 2020 showed us a lot about the lack of transitional digital education services available. 2021 will see this ironed out, with more companies like Elevate K-12, which connects over 200 teachers from across the U.S. to schools struggling to find teachers, expanding their role. Currently, Elevate has placement in over 200 schools in 11 states, and everything is done via live-stream instruction.
But inclusive education is also on the agenda, as seen with Apple’s partnership to build an Atlanta education hub for Black colleges and universities. The company also plans to open a developer academy in Michigan, all part of the $100 million initiative. Apple said it will also fund 100 new scholarships, with the developer academy being free of charge for students.
Students are going to need new models and ways to keep attention on assignments, plus a reward system that somehow resembles in-person grading. Google seems to be testing homework practice problems in search results.
Virtual reality (VR) simulation
A new study found there will be double the learning and development leaders utilizing VR for soft skill training by 2022. The study serves as a resource for HR leaders and comes from virtual reality training platform Mursion and advisory organization Future Workplace. More than half of respondents of the study listed VR in their top three picks for where they would invest more money if they could double their learning budget, up higher than social learning, gamification, in-person learning, and AI. The reports suggests that VR will help encourage “engaging,” “personalized,” and “measurable” soft skills.
“VR is becoming a top modality for training in conflict resolution, communications, and sales of news products and services,” said Jeanne Meister, managing partner at Future Workplace.
The way we travel has been impacted, so will future travel. In order to have measures to make people feel safe when it is safe to do so, better digital documentation could become critical for both identity and health protection. American Airlines just announced it will launch a mobile “health passport” app called VeriFLY for international travelers en route to the United States. American Airlines is the first to introduce this type of passport, which goes into effect beginning January 23. Expect to see more variations of this to come, as well as new models of digital proofs and documentation created for vetting identity at home and abroad.
Sports gambling coverage will also ramp up this year. FuboTV Inc. just announced an online sportsbook deal, acquiring sports betting startup Vigotry to integrate into the TV platform. More attention will focus on FuboTV’s free-to-play app that’s powered by Balto Sports, which Fubo acquired in December.
Traditionally, FuboTV, whose stock has more than tripled since the company IPO’d last fall, was known for its coverage of soccer and other sports, but now the sports streaming service is looking to cash in on the rising market of sports gambling after 25 states legalized it last year. Many states legalized in hopes to bring in more tax revenue (a similar bet is being seen with cannabis).
Keep watch of companies like DraftKings, which reported revenue of $133 million for its third quarter in 2020, Penn National Gaming, and Bragg Gaming Group.
(Note: we are not promoting gambling. Be responsible.)
Esports and video game analytics firm Newzoo predicts we’ll see more “first time user experience” focus this year. And 16% (more than 700 million) of all active smartphones will be 5G-ready by the end of this year, up from 5% in 2020. By 2023, the share is said to rise to 45%, meaning 2.1 billion 5G-ready active smartphones, according to findings from Newzoo.
Now, with the impact of mobile, more IP holders from entertainment sectors (movies, books, TV) can get in on the action. Newzoo identified over 230 entertainment-based IP games currently available on app stores, and over 900 IP-based games released across all platforms in the last two decades. Also, eight of the top 20 grossing iOS games in 2020 were based on non-gaming entertainment IP (mostly literature).
One big change in the mobile gaming world is that Apple iOS 14 has removed IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers). This could disrupt app publishes’ ability to monetize through advertising.
Video games will be fertile ground for experimentation. 2021 will see more synchronicity between gaming and coding education. Keep watch on Roblox, a global gaming platform providing game creation tools to millions. The platform currently has 31 million active daily users. The company plans to go public via a direct listing.
We’ll also see more variations of multiplayer social games that follow in the success of Among Us. An online version of Clue would be interesting to play with others while we social distance. Other games like Animal Crossing and Pokémon (new Pokémon Snap! is coming April 30) should continue in popularity too. Zynga should come out with some new gems.
Newzoo also said we’ll see more AAA immersive experiences.
“We expect to see Chinese developers continuing to expand overseas with more AAA immersive, competitive content not only on mobile, but also console and PC,” reads the report. “A notable example is the reported Lilith battle royale title for PC and mobile.”
And don’t forget that software development will be a big part of 2021, especially as more content becomes utilized for training, education, and joy. Amazon, Stripe, Amex, Daimler, and Microsoft are among companies using a new GitHub service to fund the open-source projects they care about. GitHub CEO Nat Friedman hopes this will become a 21st century model for software developers.
This is going to be an area of great expansion. We are all at home and need to find ways to stimulate ourselves when needed, or just change scenes. Check out this nifty light projector projects a field of stars across your room.
There will be a new suite of products that help those recording from home too. Look at Logitech’s next-gen portfolio of meeting room solutions, for example. Items like the Rally Bar are sure to be hits. The “home suite” will be developed more this year, with more options to help us transition from room to room and task to task.
2021 will also be a cautionary year that will hopefully bring about new legislation for data rights. There will be more “privacy by design” talk, which means privacy is built into everything designed, as well as more regulation, protocols, and clamping down of social media and Big Tech.
Main photo: Logitech