Lifestyle

9 Consumer Tech Trends You Need to Know About in 2019

February 22, 2019 By Southpoint Tuggeranong

There’s a lot going on in the consumer technology industry. More and more technology is built into just about anything we buy for our homes or personal use. And it’s getting more useful all the time.

That’s why there’s a lot of talk about new technology going mainstream. Stuff like digital assistants and wearable tech are becoming the norm. We’re not quite in computer-controlled homes yet. But what was still science fiction a few years ago is available to purchase today.

Not sure how this affects you? We identified some tech trends that everyone should be aware of…

1. Internet of every thing

You may be thinking that there’s a limit to the number of things that need to connect to the Internet. Think again.

Intelligent toilets apparently featured at CES 2019, the consumer technology conference that kicks off every year. And, according to CNet, faster 5G connectivity, which we’re about to get to, will see a lot more seemingly mundane things connected to the Internet.

A world where just about everything is “smart” and connected is coming.

All this is possible:
  • Tell Alexa to turn on the heating on your smart dunny.
  • Let your smart pet feeder save you rushing home to feed the animals.
  • Wear a smart ring to pay for your shopping — no need for a credit card, let alone cash.

2. 5G real not imagined

You may have heard of 5G. Simply put it is a faster more robust mobile network. A step up from 4G, enabling superfast Internet just about everywhere. And it’s the key to seeing the potential of those “smart” things.

There has been talk about 5G for a while. (Not least because Australia, like many countries, has banned Chinese tech giant Huawei from being involved in building the network.) The buzz around technical circles is that 2019 is the year that we will start to see 5G services in Australia.

3. Voice interfaces

The tech-savvy teens of the world are going to get a break from their tech support duties.

One of the key trends demonstrated at CES was the increased use of your voice to control technology.

If you’re not part of the digital generation, you’ve probably turned to one of them for help getting one of your devices to do what you need it to do. Good news: we’re heading for a world where we can ask our digital assistant rather than drag someone away from the latest episode of Riverdale.

There’s still a long way to go. Talking to Alexa, Siri or Cortana is still very different to talking to a fellow human.

But the trend toward voice interfaces reflects the fact that simplifying ways to interact with technology makes us more likely to use it.

4. Smarter AI that offers “predictive assistance”

The limitations of Alexa, Siri and Cortana as interfaces reflects the fact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) still needs to be smarter to truly understand our needs. But progress is being made.

AI is set to be better able to anticipate and understand our needs. As it gets smarter it will adapt to us rather than requiring us to try to adapt to it and communicate in terms it understands.

Your new smart vacuum cleaner will not only do the vacuuming for you, but also recognise the socks under your daughter’s bed for what they are, rather than suck them up.

Your new smart TV will adjust its screen to light conditions or sound settings to the content you are watching.

5. Tech that looks after you

Imagine a world where your clothing warns you that you are in danger of a heart attack. You don’t have to imagine hard. A cotton vest that can predict heart attacks was on show at CES.

The vest isn’t likely to be on sale at SouthPoint in 2019 but lots of stuff like it already is.

New smarter wearable technology from smart watches to fitness trackers is here now. It can tell us a lot about how healthy we are and help us stay healthy.

And its popularity is exploding. The number of wearable devices sold in 2019 is predicted to reach 225 million worldwide, 25 percent up on last year.

Looking to get fitter or healthier in 2019? You might be surprised how valuable and affordable a little wearable tech is.

6. Smarter Homes

Need to replace any of your gadgets or devices around the home? It’s going to be harder and harder to avoid smart home technology in 2019.

New appliances, gadgets and devices are more and more likely to include AI and the potential for Internet connectivity.

Your budget and how much you value the smarts things come with will likely determine how important the AI in your purchases will be to you. Regardless of your level of interest, though, you should consider an interconnected future, if you’re buying something for your home.

If you’re an “early adopter”, you’ve probably already got your digital assistant in place. It might be time for those of us who aren’t the first to jump on new technology bandwagons to get on board too.

7. Big screens and 8k video going mainstream

Digital Trends declared that 2019 was “a huge year for TVs at CES”. They’re not only getting smarter like every other appliance. They’re also getting bigger and brighter.

You may not have made the leap from HD 1080 to 4k. (Lost you? We’re talking improved screen resolutions and “better picture”.) Many people haven’t. Well it might pay to skip 4k and wait until your budget stretches to a new 8k TV — even better picture quality — given that is the emerging standard for TV screen resolution.

The other key trend is for much bigger screens, with 80-inch screens supposedly set to become the norm. No need to worry too much about the wall space this requires or the TV dominating the room. Why? Well the screen will roll away when not in use.

8. Foldable phones

A huge TV screen that disappears into its box when off, like some hi-tech version of the screen your teacher unrolled for the overhead projector at school, sound a bit much? How about a foldable smart phone?

According to Tech Radar, “foldable phones look set to be the big new smartphone trend of 2019”. They offer a long list of such phones set to launch soon.

The question has to be, given that these devices won’t be cheap, whether their foldable screens will be any less susceptible to cracks than their “unfoldable” forbears. Presumably, it will be hard to find a foldable case…

It may be that you’re better to look at a 5g capable phone for now and leave the folding screen options for a future when they’re a little less of an investment.

9. The need to secure your IoT (Internet of Things)

Writing in the New York Times, Brian Chen offered some words of caution about the development of AI and devices being touted for 2019.

Previewing CES in early January, Chen noted that we routinely install anti-virus software on our laptops and pc’s. We now need to think about cyber security for everything from our vacuum cleaner to our TV.

The key here is your router which remains the entry point for the Internet into your home. If you are updating your router or concerned about the number of smart things in your home, then maybe you need to think about the security of your wireless network.

Buying consumer tech in 2019

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all this talk of AI, smart devices and smarter homes. The best way to approach buying appliances and digital devices in 2019 is to think about what you need them to do but be aware of what they can do.

Haven’t taken advantage of all the smart technology around yet? Take note of the potential capabilities of AI that comes with devices you buy. Buying the cheaper device or gadget with no smarts might cost you more in the long run. Why? Well, you’ll need to replace it when you do want to embrace AI and the Internet of Things.

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