Technology trends to watch in 2021

January 4, 2021

By Rocio M.R. and Kirsten Queen

As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to look ahead to what’s coming in 2021. While 2020 enjoyed TikTok challenges and exploring what it means to work from home on a global level, there’s much to look forward to in 2021, including the rise of 5G, new innovations in gaming and wearables, and an increased focus on cybersecurity. Let’s dive into what’s being projected. 

How we work and play is transforming

As more individuals learn to work from home or have taken on remote roles in companies all over the globe, the need to communicate is more important than ever before. But aside from work, we also have innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), gaming, and the Internet of Things (Iot) that make our lives easier than ever before. 

Stronger networks

We all rely heavily on technology to get work done and to communicate with each other, and we need a stronger network for connection. 5G and fiber optic internet networks promise speed and improved connectivity to keep companies and daily tech users online and up-to-speed. Expect to see both 5G and fiber optic networks spread across the country during 2021 as more companies embrace and adopt these networks.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence

You can expect to see artificial intelligence (AI) leveraged in several industries and in your own home. This new technology can improve the customer experience in ecommerce and ease the workload for marketers, and it can help monitor healthcare patients and detect disease. It also promises untold applications in multiple industries, including self-driving cars, copywriting, and cybersecurity. As the technology grows and expands, both companies and consumers want to be sure that there is ethical use of data and programming in varying degrees of AI. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Behavior (IoB)

Technology that monitors health more closely post-pandemic is coming, including tools that use location data and track handwashing to focus on health and safety initiatives. We can also expect to see more movement towards smart cities as city leaders focus on public safety and mobility. 

Innovations in gaming

Gamers have new innovation and virtual offerings to look forward to in 2021. Gameplay will get more immersive, improving the virtual reality (VR) experience with more lifelike graphics. Gaming will also become more accessible as cloud-based gaming grows more popular.  And gaming will become a spectator sport with esports is on the rise.  It’s more popular for people ages 18-25 to watch other people play video games than to watching traditional sporting events. And esports will continue to grow. The industry is projected to bring in $1.194 billion in revenue in 2021 and shows no signs of slowing down.

Innovations in wearable technology

2021 will likely see some major improvements to smartwatches, implantables, and even jewelry. Today, wearable technology allows users to measure their oxygen levels and heart rate, and they can even help people track their REM cycles. Implantable technology to treat various pre-existing medical conditions continues to improve and may become more readily available for patients. Expect more wearable technology to keep you informed on how your body is performing at certain tasks, your overall health, or use it to keep track of more specific fitness goals.

Quantum computing

This type of technology might be unfamiliar to consumers, but it has completely transformed how scientists are able to calculate some of the world’s biggest scientific questions. Most computers can only compute so much at once, but quantum computing allows for solving bigger calculations in a shorter period of time. This type of technology is important, as it has had a great impact on how scientists approach global health crises and processed large amounts of data. 

Security matters

As technological landscapes change and organizations can access more of your personal data, increased efforts are necessary to keep your information safe. Now more than ever, online consumers share banking information, their location, and even have voice-activated devices that pick up on their every word. Below are a couple of security technology trends to keep an eye out for in 2021.

Focus on data privacy

In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation was passed in 2016, and California passed its own privacy law in 2018. Many other states, including New Hampshire, Washington, and Illinois have passed similar legislation, requiring data privacy and transparency for consumers. Many of these laws are set to go into effect in 2021, so you can expect to see a heightened focus on the topic. Some of these laws also focus on regulation of facial recognition technology.  

New zero trust authentication

With a rise in remote working, companies need to take increased cybersecurity measures. With many employees working from home, the traditional on-premises security networks are no longer effective or efficient, and businesses need to look at how to expand. Plus, cybercriminals are constantly inventing new ways to hack into system and steal information, including cloud attacks. Now, companies are looking to expand how they individually secure remote workers by expanding their cybersecurity and using advanced authentication tactics, or zero trust security, to protect their data.

Evolved cybercriminals

Be on the lookout for new and increased ransomware attacks. As cybercriminals grow more sophisticated, so will their attacks. Take time to brush up on cybersecurity measures to take and educate yourself on what phishing looks like, as a majority of these attacks stem from fake emails. 

The end of the year is an exciting time to look ahead to a fresh start and new ways of improving older technology. In 2021, consumers can look forward to a heavy focus on health technology, wearable technology, and improvements in remote work environments. To learn more about trending topics like these and others, be sure to explore other blog posts from CenturyLink.


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