The top tech trends for 2020 cover a wide array of areas including quantum computing, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and 5G, according to a CB Insights report released Thursday.
SEE: The CIO’s guide to quantum computing (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)
Most of the items on the list were included in CompTIA‘s top 10 emerging technologies of 2019. This crossover indicates that 2019 may have been the beginning for many of these technologies, but 2020 is the year when they take flight.
To determine the top trends for 2020, the research team used anonymized and aggregate client searches on the CB Insights platform, patent activity, investment activity by VCs, and media and executive chatter tracked by the CB Insights Earnings Transcript and News Mentions search tools, according to the report.
The following are the tech trends that “deserve close attention in the first year of the 2020s,” as stated in the report.
The 5 biggest tech trends of 2020
1. Broader quantum tech commercialization
Advances in quantum computers and quantum cryptography have been in the experimental stage for years, but 2020 will see the technology begin to be commercialized for businesses.
Quantum computers are useful for quickly solving problems or sifting through large datasets that would take conventional computers much longer to accomplish.
At the moment, conventional computers still outperform quantum computers, but aspects of quantum computing could help current businesses, according to the report.
Many AI programs in businesses could work much quicker if supported by quantum computers, and some organizations have already begun that.
Microsoft and Amazon, for example, both announced that they are connecting quantum computers to their cloud networks to allow enterprise customers to test experimental algorithms, the report found.
2. AR, VR, and 5G shape the way people work
In 2020, the workplace will become smaller with the growth of virtual collaboration tools, according to the report.
The year 2019 was a huge year for remote work, as communication tools like Slack and Zoom began replacing the need for costly office space.
Advances in AR and VR in 2020, however, will take remote work capabilities to a whole new level by bringing workers virtually into the physical space.
Companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google are working on headsets that could shift any space into a virtual office, and also transport remote workers into an office space, the report found.
This trend started in 2019 with Microsoft’s Hololens 2 and will continue throughout 2020.
3. Apple doubles down on healthcare products
Tech giants, particularly Apple, will enhance their involvement in chronic-disease management and routine healthcare.
Certain Apple Watch models focus significantly on health with fall detection, a built-in ECG, and heart rate monitor. The Apple Watch is rumored to eventually have diabetes management. Currently, Apple is selling One Drop glucose monitors, which are designed to integrate with other Apple devices, according to the report.
With so many health-focused devices and features introduced by Apple last year, the report predicts that Apple will build upon those capabilities in 2020.
4. Cyber risks become even more severe
As stated in the report, “2020 will be a year in which the public, businesses, and governments realize security threats to people and physical assets have increasingly become ubiquitous, continuous, and software-based.”
Software-based weapons including bots, drones, worms and ransomware are proliferating high-level attacks and will continue to throughout 2020.
Ransomware—a longtime problem in the cybersecurity world—will also become even stronger as the year goes on, the report found.
Organizations must be aware of these threats and stay up to date on cybersecurity protocols, according to the report.
5. AI bias becomes a top regulatory concern
AI in businesses increased significantly in 2019, particularly in hiring and training practices. However, concerns around AI bias have also risen.
While some big tech companies have attempted to self-regulate with AI solutions that focus on ethics, many people questioning if self-regulation will be enough, according to the report.
The report expects monitoring of AI bias to move from self-regulation to governmental regulation in 2020.
Movements in that direction already started last year when the US focused on banning government use of facial recognition technology, which supposedly had race and gender bias, the report found.
To prepare, the report recommended tech companies get a head start on compliance by implementing bias policies before any legislation has passed.
Other tech trends
While the top five trends are featured above, the report also dove into nine other trends we could see in 2020:
- Radical biohacking
- Further robot commercialization
- More Saudi Arabian and Russian investment in tech
- Health and wellness tech reach new heights
- Tech becomes more empathetic
- Big businesses embrace sustainability
- Shoppers turn to livestreams
- Major businesses could merge
- Bankers roll out their own digital currencies
Learn more about the other trends in the full report.
- DevOps: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft HoloLens 2: An insider’s guide (TechRepublic download)
- How smart tech is transforming the transportation industry (TechRepublic Premium)
- Technology that changed us: The 1970s, from Pong to Apollo (ZDNet)
- These smart plugs are the secret to a seamless smart home (CNET)
- The 10 most important iPhone apps of all time (Download.com)
- Tom Merritt’s Top 5 series (TechRepublic on Flipboard)