Consumer Tech Trends in 2022
techUK participated digitally in CES 2022, the world’s largest trade show for the consumer electronics sector organized by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Taking place from 5th to 8th January, this year saw a return to physical exhibitions in Las Vegas alongside the opportunity to engage remotely. CES has for many years been a key event in the calendar that provides industry stakeholders the opportunity to experience the most recent and pioneering technologies in the consumer electronics space. We were excited to take part and learn more about emerging trends in the consumer tech space:
Sustained increase in consumer tech demand
Pandemic control measures and reduced spending in social activities have driven consumers towards investing in tech products and a greater willingness to purchase premium brands. 2021 saw considerable year-on-year growth in consumer demand across all regions of the world. 2022 is expected to deliver further growth albeit at a more moderate rate, and the U.S. market for consumer tech is projected to exceed half a trillion USD for the first time. Sustained demand for consumer tech is in part driven by the integration of digital services such as video streaming or remote fitness classes into devices and equipment.
Consumer tech investment keeping pace with demand
Q3 2021 saw 105% year-on-year growth in global investment in startups, a majority of which are in the tech space. For consumer tech there is particular appetite for startups that offer innovations in retail tech, fintech, and healthcare tech.
There is also a critical need for investment in chip production to address the current global supply chain challenges. In the short term, global chip production is forecast to increase by 16% in 2022 as companies add production lines to existing plants, and for the longer term there have been announcement of major new plant investments by Intel, Samsung and TSMC. We expect there to be greater geodiversity in chip plants going forward as companies seek to diversity risk and consider locations outside of the traditional hub of East Asia.
On the exhibition floor – four sectors benefiting from consumer tech innovation
Four particular areas that generated a lot of buzz at CES 2022:
Transport technology including new innovations in the rapidly accelerating electric vehicle (EV) market and devices that support autonomous vehicles. There were also a lot of examples of transport technologies that can ease congestion in crowded cities including micro-mobility solutions and demonstrations of the feasibility of urban air mobility systems. New innovations for in-car entertainment also feature heavily as consumer tech embraces the automotive sector.
Space tech is a sector that generated a lot of news in 2021 as the private sector is coming to play a greater role in an area that was traditionally occupied only by national space agencies. While space tourism most often grabs the headlines, tourism actually represents only $1bn of the $350bn space tech industry. As miniaturised satellites and more cost-effective launch vehicles become more accessible we expect space tech to become ubiquitous in the communications sector (see SpaceX's Starlink project to provide global internet connectivity via satellite constellations) and to be more readily available for commercial purposes such as enhanced navigation and weather prediction via next-generation geopositioning systems.
Sustainable tech was very much on show with CES 2022 coming just a few weeks after the COP26 summit in Glasgow. There was particular emphasis on technology solutions that can guide consumers towards greater energy efficiency as well as reduced carbon footprint through tech-enabled sustainable food production.
Health tech is an area seeing plenty of innovation as consumers become more accepting of integrating technology into their fitness and wellbeing routines. Think wearables and connected fitness devices, technologies and services that support mental health, as well as therapeutics and telemedicine.
Future of augmented and virtual reality
Facebook’s rebranding to Meta and release of this video of a future vision for a digital world built over our own ensured that AR/VR and the ‘metaverse’ received a lot of attention in 2021. At the launch of CES 2022 we heard that a lot of the ‘bricks’ of the metaverse are already in existence and waiting to be assembled to create increasingly immersive digital experiences.
These bricks include not only top-level infrastructure (5G, cloud) but devices that enhance the consumer experience including haptics (technologies that create the sensation of touch) and volumetric video that can capture 3D spaces.
We also saw at CES 2022 the relevance of AR/VR not only in the social sphere but for enterprise, with a range of applications showcased for virtual meetings, simulations and digital twins, remote collaboration, immersive design and use in retail marketing and sales.