Welcome to 2021. Sign of the times perhaps, but the title for our opening Blog post of the year perhaps captures both our current and future assessment of the world. Uncertainty reigns as the pandemic rages, but this won’t stop dynamic innovation occurring across all industries. With the present so murky, what could be more compelling than thinking about the future? We are innovating (albeit only very marginally) too. Having completed 100 Blog posts at the end of last year, we are opting for a ‘light’ rebrand; this is post one from our third season (or year) of Blog authorship.
Back to the title of our Blog and where better to see both the weird and wonderful on show than at CES? For those unfamiliar, CES (or the Consumer Electronics Show) is the world’s largest trade show in this sphere, and it begins next week. It’s been running since 1967 and we last attended in 2017. This year’s show will, of course, be virtual but it won’t stop a swathe of announcements coming from corporates both large and small. Theme wise, we are watching for two new trends in particular. First, an adaptation to the ‘new normal.’ Put practically, this might mean new TVs with in-built Zoom functionality, or phone chargers which self-disinfect. Second, 2021 ‘may’ be the year of more augmented and/or virtual reality. Some of this could be wishful thinking – an escape from today’s real world – but expect the likes of more smart glasses, smart shoes and headsets with additional functionality.
Fast-forward to July and we may – all other things being equal – get a second dose of the weird and wonderful when the 32nd Summer Olympics hopefully commences in Tokyo, a year later than scheduled. Host nations generally use such events to showcase their prowess and domestic differentiation to the external world. Japan has had a long-held reputation for all things technological, so expect more robots, less cash and enhanced facial recognition. The former may act as de facto venue guides (and also help with social distancing). Stadia entry may also be increasingly done in the absence of personnel as facial recognition technologies improve. Meanwhile, the Olympics should act as a catalyst to accelerate digital payment adoption in Japan, which remains among the lowest in the world (cash has always culturally been favoured).
So, there is much about which to be potentially excited. However, it will remain crucial to separate hype from reality. This matters when considering future trends in general. All that glistens does not become gold (or a gold medal for that matter). Wishing readers all the best for the year ahead.
The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.
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