Metaverse, cryptocurrencies, greentech, connected health… Many topics and challenges await the tech and digital industry in 2022. Focus on the major trends that will mark this new year, and which we will hear about.
A few days after a CES in a hybrid version, we take stock of the topics and challenges that await the digital and new technologies sector in the next 12 months. The themes are numerous and reflect the concerns of our society: connected health, greentech, digital regulation, shortage of components… There are also trends that continue to develop – such as virtual and augmented reality, AI, 5G, cryptocurrencies, cybersecurity, self-driving cars or even NFTs – and those, more recent, which will be talked about, such as the metaverse and Web 3.0, which should occupy (for a long time?) the front of the stage. So many subjects that are already transforming the world of today and shaping that of tomorrow.
European digital regulation
Since December 2020, the European Union (EU) intends to regulate digital platforms with two regulations: the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Together, they are supposed to put an end to the irresponsibility of digital giants. The first by better protecting consumers and their fundamental rights online, and by fighting against illegal content such as child pornography by imposing new rules on platforms. The purpose of the second is to guarantee that some of them, qualified as “gatekeepers”, behave fairly online. It is a means of preventing large corporations from abusing their dominant position in the market.
Both regulations are expected to be adopted definitively this year. At the end of November, EU member countries adopted a common position on the two texts. In December, it was the members of the European Parliament who approved their own version of the DMA. They should do the same for the DSA in January. This step is followed by negotiations between MEPs and the Council of the EU, with the presence of the Commission, in order to reach an agreement on a single version of the two texts. This process, known as the trialogue, started on January 11 for the DMA. France, which has presided over the EU since January 1 for a period of six months, has the ambition to bring these regulations to fruition during its mandate.
$15.8 trillion. This amount represents all cryptocurrency transactions made in 2021. These digital currencies have attracted investors, but they have also interested several sectors, from art to video games, including cinema. Some countries have also chosen to include them in their financial system. This is the case of El Salvador which, after making bitcoin legal tender last September, unveiled its plan to build a city entirely dedicated to this famous digital asset.
The cryptocurrency craze is not expected to stop in 2022, despite the risks associated with it. They can indeed be used for criminal purposes. Illegal transactions would have represented 14 billion dollars in 2021, with thefts or scams. These dangers are mainly due to the lack of regulation, a subject that should come back on the table this year. Several players are in favor of regulating these assets. India, for example, is preparing a law to ban private cryptocurrencies and create its own official digital currency. Worried about the risks posed by this ecosystem, the International Monetary Fund called for global regulation last month.
In early 2021, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were unknown to most people. By the end of the year, $40 billion had been spent on these blockchain-certified digital objects according to a study by Chainalysis. With a strong presence in the art world, notably with a work by the artist Beeple sold for $69.3 million, they also enabled the sale of several historical objects in digital form and at high prices last year. . The front page of the Wikipedia encyclopedia was bought at auction for $750,000, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first tweet was sold for $2.9 million, the world’s first text message for 107,000 euro…
NFTs were so talked about in 2021 that many French people asked Google about the subject. Recently, famous brands like Adidas have been investing in these assets in order to sell real and virtual clothes. This allows them to expand into the… metaverse, a virtual world concept that has been just as popular in 2021 and in which NFTs could be an important element.
This term coined by Neal Stephenson in a science fiction novel in 1992 has seen a resurgence in popularity in 2021. Used to refer to a virtual world accessible through virtual and augmented reality, it is considered by some to be the next digital revolution. In recent months, many companies have taken an interest in it, starting with Meta (ex-Facebook), which went so far as to change its name to reflect its metaverse project. Each company shares its vision of this virtual world, which is supposed to allow future users to have fun, work or even socialize. Lately, this term is mostly mentioned in relation to brands and celebrities who are interested in it.
2022 won’t be the year everyone abandons the real world for the virtual world, but it will be an opportunity for brands to continue experimenting in the metaverse and for businesses to grow their vision. This year should also see the emergence of rules, especially since problems such as sexual harassment have already begun to manifest themselves. Finally, the metaverse should be mentioned with the development of virtual reality equipment.
At the end of 2021, parental controls were announced as a way for platforms to prove that they want to protect young people when they are rightly accused of harming their mental health. 2022 will show whether their efforts are concrete. Adam Mosseri, CEO of Instagram, said tools supposed to allow parents to monitor and block their children’s usage time on the platform would be introduced as early as March. Snapchat also said it is working on a tool that functions as a “family center” and gives adults greater visibility into their children’s activities on the app in order to protect them. Other platforms like YouTube have indicated the arrival of similar functions, but without providing further details.
In addition to social networks, parental controls are considered a means of protecting minors on the Internet by legislators. In France, the National Assembly is examining a bill to encourage the use of this system on smartphones, computers and other connected objects since January 12. It would also be a way to prevent children from coming across inappropriate content such as pornography.
Artificial intelligence and cybersecurity
Of course, artificial intelligence (AI) will be relevant in 2022, with algorithms, robots and other developments. It will be addressed in particular through the question of ethics. This technology still raises concerns about possible damage related to the data used to train a system, such as facial recognition. Ethics was already an important subject at the end of 2021, Unesco having published a global recommendation on the subject or China having presented guidelines on this subject.
AI will also be mentioned in 2022 with autonomous cars. These have also been talked about at CES at the start of the year, where several companies have announced their intention to market models for personal use. The technology is certainly not perfect yet, but some brands have seen advances in 2021. The Waymo and Cruise brands have been authorized to market their autonomous services in California, Mercedes-Benz plans to sell such a vehicle in Germany this year after gaining the country’s approval on its Tier 3 system, and France, which is in the experimental stage, aims to have self-driving cars circulating in predefined areas as early as September 2022.
On the cybersecurity side, the end of the year was marked by a wave of panic on the Net following the discovery of a flaw in software used by several services and applications. A concern justified by the fact that cybercriminals generally exploit these vulnerabilities to attack their victims. Many companies, hospitals and other organizations have also been targeted by ransomware in 2021. This very lucrative technique of blocking access to computer systems until a ransom is paid will always be used by cybercriminals. in 2022. The latter will also continue to bet on the popularity of cryptocurrencies to make money by developing more or less sophisticated scams as they did last year.
Virtual reality and augmented reality
Augmented reality and virtual reality are two different technologies that have been trying to establish themselves for a few years. Moreover, they are not new and many players have tried to impose them on the general public or the business world, with more or less success. In 2022, they could finally prevail with the help of the metaverse. The subject (see above) is at the heart of a fierce battle between tech giants, taking the form of a universe in which the real and the virtual end up merging. This result is achieved through the technologies of virtual reality, which promotes immersion, and augmented reality, which enriches the real world by adding various virtual elements.
Highly anticipated, they will continue to accompany helmets and other connected glasses over the coming months. Several manufacturers have recently distinguished themselves (Meta, Xiaomi, Oppo, Huawei…) and the competition is likely to increase. Apple could also enter the market, which is waiting for a strong signal to finally take off. An arrival that would change a lot of things, starting with the eyes of users.
Shortage of components
A hot topic in recent months, the shortage of electronic components will still be in the news in 2022. There is little doubt that this semiconductor crisis will continue to disrupt many industries such as tech or automotive. While some manufacturers and experts are counting on a slight improvement in the situation, others are more cautious and anticipate by changing their strategy. This leads some to take surprising decisions, such as Sony, which plans to restart production of PlayStation 4 to compensate for the absence of PlayStation 5 on the shelves.
Over the next 12 months, the situation is expected to remain tense and problems will persist. This crisis is disrupting electronics shipments as demand picks up, pushing prices up at least through mid-2022. At the end of the year, the situation could finally improve, to the great relief of manufacturers and consumers.
This observation is not a surprise and is explained by the youth of this fifth generation mobile network, the uses of which remain to be developed. Currently being deployed around the world, 5G has not yet unleashed its potential and this should not necessarily change in the coming months. The priority remains to make 5G accessible to as many people as possible and to give users time to equip themselves. If most smartphones are now compatible, they still need to be renewed and come with a 5G plan. Gold,
Nevertheless, 5G is expected to progress in the years to come and it will be necessary to wait until the end of 2022 or even 2023 to see this technology take off completely. “In the daily use of the mobile, we do not perceive the difference. The real uses of 5G will arrive with the second stage, at the end of 2022 at the beginning of 2023” , explained Olivier Roussat, CEO of Bouygues Telecom, a few months ago. The appointment is made.
If Elon Musk is not a big fan of Web3, which he describes as “bullshit” , it is clear that the Web is reaching a new turning point in its history. In our columns, we recently set out to discover Web 3.0, which promises to be the next Internet revolution. Its first outlines are emerging and evoke a new generation relying on blockchain to create a decentralized Web. A return to basics for a World Wide Web whose excesses have worried its inventor for many years.
In 2022, this notion of Web3 – sometimes used as a buzzword – should continue to animate the debates. As with Web 2.0, however, it is difficult to predict when we will enter Web 3.0. Mentioned for a few years, the anti-Web 2.0 already exists with the Web3 Foundation and challenges the world of cryptocurrencies in particular. If it seems to have already begun its transformation, the Web of tomorrow could wait for the metaverse promised by the current digital giants to become more concrete.
The flagship subject of various trade fairs such as the CES, connected health has occupied an even greater place since the pandemic. Behind the strong growth of connected objects, an entire ecosystem of products dedicated to health is developing. Connected watches, activity trackers, connected scales, blood pressure monitors… Devices for monitoring your health are multiplying and becoming ever smarter.
The Covid-19 crisis has also helped e-health to experience unprecedented growth, in particular through the democratization of teleconsultation. In 2022, the sector will want to continue to ride the wave and there are many elements in its favour. Connected health is more than ever a solution to relieve congestion in waiting rooms, provide a solution to medical deserts or simply facilitate medical consultations. On the device side, we expect new features on consumer devices such as blood sugar measurement. Often presented as the disease or the scourge of the 21st century, diabetes is of interest to many manufacturers of connected watches which could strengthen the health functions of their future products.
Green technologies have been on the rise in the tech world for a few years. The climate crisis is worrying the sector and more and more companies are looking to take concrete action in favor of ecology. The promises of carbon neutrality are multiplying among the digital giants, even if these discourses divide. Faced with “greenwashing”, initiatives are linked and new players are trying to emerge. For Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, there is no doubt that companies specializing in green technologies are the future.
The year 2022 should continue to help this sector, even if it will still be necessary to wait before discovering giants. “There will be companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon that will come out of this [greentech or cleantech] space ,” says Bill Gates. The “green” sector is notably that of the electric car, which continues to develop, but also of technologies such as the capture of CO2 in the air, green hydrogen or even sustainable aviation fuels. Long-term energy storage also appears to be a promising sector. Closer to home, connected objects that reduce consumption and carbon emissions – such as thermostats – will continue to be promoted.