As strange as the last couple of years have been, technology will never standstill. If anything, the pandemic has accelerated the development and adoption of emerging technologies by forcing us to change how we live and work.
As we continue to move through 2022, here are five fast-evolving technology trends to watch closely throughout the year.
The metaverse evolves
The lines between our physical and digital worlds will grow even blurrier as the much-hyped metaverse continues to evolve.
In the simplest terms, the metaverse is a virtual world built on various technologies, including virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). In truth, though, the metaverse is anything but simple.
From significant skills gaps to unprecedented security risks, there are plenty of obstacles for the metaverse’s key figures to overcome. Some experts have even suggested we’ll be waiting years for the necessary tech components to exist, but that’s not to say we won’t see progress this year.
As theory starts turning to practice in 2022, with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg seemingly at the helm, individuals and businesses will likely find early opportunities to work, meet, relax and do just about anything else in 3D virtual environments.
Brands embrace NFTs
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are unique cryptographic tokens that exist on a blockchain (much like cryptocurrency) and cannot be replicated. They represent real-world items, such as music, art and property, and are sold and traded online.
NFTs had a massive breakout in 2021, but 2022 looks set to be the year they go mainstream as major brands get involved.
In February, the NFL offered attendees of this year’s Super Bowl limited edition NFTs as souvenirs of their experience. Last summer, the British Olympic Committee ran a similar promotion around the Tokyo Olympics and now has a dedicated online NFT store.
Cryptocurrencies grow into the mainstream
Another blockchain technology moving further into the mainstream is cryptocurrency.
In September 2021, El Salvador became the first country to make bitcoin – the original and most popular cryptocurrency – legal tender. The move has proven controversial but it was a huge step other countries could follow – especially if the Central American nation’s decision pays off.
While the UK and others are more hesitant around cryptocurrency, many of the world’s central banks, including the Bank of England, are actively developing or exploring their own digital currencies.
Sustainable transport gathers speed
Transport, the UK’s largest emitting sector of greenhouse gases according to Department for Transport data, is an obvious focal point for technological advancement as the government’s 2050 net-zero target inches closer.
Electric car adoption is growing, and manufacturers will be working hard in 2022 to make their planet-friendly vehicles even more accessible and convenient for motorists. Polestar is a prime example: the Swedish car-maker announced in February plans to open a new dedicated research and development (R&D) facility where it will aim to make its cars’ chassis lighter to compensate for their heavy battery weights.
Away from cars, low-carbon rail travel is on the agenda. For example, Network Rail has promised to update its procurement processes this year as it aims for complete carbon neutrality across Britain’s railways by 2050 – a move that will help bring transport tech innovators to the fore. Meanwhile, researchers and engineers at other transport firms are busy exploring the potential of net-zero fuels like hydrogen.
The EdTech market grows
With COVID-19 forcing schools worldwide to close, billions of teachers, students and parents fell back on technology to ensure education continued.
This disruption highlighted the benefits and massive potential of remote and tech-fuelled learning, from gamification boosting engagement to video conferencing software helping educators and learners overcome geographic barriers.
In 2022, the educational technology (EdTech) market will grow as tech companies strive to help schools, universities and colleges keep the most valuable parts of their adapted teaching methods.