As 2022 kicks off, predictions abound on the technology advancements and innovations expected in the year ahead. However, several highly anticipated advancements, including the metaverse, mainstream companion robots, a boom in edge computing, and a bounce back in new vehicle sales will not happen in 2022.
In the ABI Research whitepaper, 70 Technology Trends That Will—and Will Not—Shape 2022, 35 trends were listed that will shape the technology market and 35 others that, although attracting huge amounts of speculation and commentary, are less likely to move the needle over the next twelve months.
“The fallout from COVID-19 prevention measures, the process of transitioning from pandemic to endemic disease, and global political tensions weigh heavily on the coming year’s fortunes,” said Stuart Carlaw, chief research officer at ABI Research.
This whitepaper is a tool for its readers to help shape their understanding of the key critical trends that look set to materialize in 2022 as the world begins to emerge from the shadow of COVID-19.
“It also highlights those much-vaunted trends that are less likely to have a meaningful impact in 2022,” he continued.
What won’t happen in 2022?
The Metaverse will not arrive fully formed
Despite all the headlines and investments, the metaverse will not arrive in 2022 or, for that matter, within the typical 5-year forecast window. The metaverse is still more of a buzzword and vision than a fully-fledged end goal with defined arrival date.
What we have today is several tech companies building their version of a “metaverse,” but this multiverse is not fully interconnected, does not yet widely employ open standards, and certainly has not fully embraced Extended Reality (XR)—all tenets of the metaverse vision (some would also add the crypto economy to the list, which is also not in place).
Edge computing use cases to remain experimental
Edge computing, both Mobile-Access Edge Computing (MEC), and general edge computing, will continue to increase in deployment numbers. However, the deployments in 2022 will be most critical ones made by early adopters—not the start of the boom that had been anticipated.
Edge computing use cases and financial viability are tightly coupled to 5G cellular networks, both public and private. The availability of affordable 5G services on which edge computing will thrive is not yet a global reality. As a result, edge computing adoption will be slower than anticipated.
Companion robotics will not go mainstream
After several years of leading social robotics companies either shutting up shop or withdrawing their commercial offerings, 2021 saw renewed investment and focus on the market and its potential.
Amazon’s launch of its first social robot, the Astro, certainly sparked a great deal of attention. However, despite the enormous potential for social/companion robotics, 2022 will not be the breakout year the industry is hoping for, despite the scale, pricing, and awareness that a player like Amazon can bring to an emerging technology market.
New vehicle sales will not bounce back
The automotive supply chain remains unable to meet pent-up demand, thanks to the shortage of critical semiconductors. A reliance on outdated semiconductor process technologies with limited production capacity, proprietary designs, and an opaque demand-signalling process has prolonged the semiconductor crisis in the automotive sector.
There are no quick fixes for problems that have been years in the making. Therefore, the consequences of the decision made by automakers in 2020 to cancel their existing semiconductor orders will last beyond 2022.
ABI Research does not expect new vehicle sales to return to the 90 million mark—last seen in 2018—until 2023 at the earliest.
A combination of factors will take until 2023 to resolve shortage issues through additional capacity, verification of real demand (versus panic 2X to 3X orders), and the inflationary impact on consumer spending on products.
Continued risk factors include social/political risks and the ability to bring new fab capacity online, on time, especially for tight engineering specified automotive and commercial vehicles. COVID-19 variants and the impact on nations without high vaccination rates also play a role in permitting staffing of facilities and transportation of finished goods and semiconductor supplies.
“Our goal is to provide the key decision tools businesses need to act with speed, appropriateness, and efficiency. 2022 will be challenging, but it also holds great promise and great opportunity,” Carlaw concluded.