As the Covid-19 pandemic changed almost every aspect of personal and work life, people turned to earlier niche or unnecessary technologies last year.
Tools ranging from voice-controlled devices to augmented reality became more common in 2020. However, with vaccination looming widespread, companies are now trying to predict which technologies will remain in the lockdown era and which will become staples.
“People may be deviating from these technologies, but now that they see the value in them [and] You understand in that moment how you benefited from it. I think they will definitely use them more in the long run, ”said Tuong Nguyen, Gartner analyst.
Brands that get the math right have a chance of millions of dollars in revenue from untapped markets in 2021, while companies that make the wrong bet run the risk of being considered an artifact of a bygone era.
One technology that experts agree will continue the latest arc of growth beyond the pandemic is augmented reality. The media format has grown in popularity in the last few months, largely due to retailers creating virtual try-on experiences. An eMarketer survey found that the proportion of US retailers looking to increase their investments in AR or virtual reality more than doubled from 8% last January to 21% in June.
Consumers won’t have to rely on AR tools to try on products like cosmetics and sunglasses after stores fully reopen, but analysts say they could still go for it.
“This is a major turning point in the journey for AR, not just in retail, but also towards mass adoption,” said Helen Papagiannis, a mixed reality consultant and author of the book Augmented Human.
Social apps like Snapchat and Instagram make it easy for brands and agencies to create AR tools. In addition, 5G networks are said to increase the speed and complexity of the graphics connections that wireless connections can support.
“The way we might think about the Internet compared to our parents or grandparents, this is how the next generation will think about AR,” said Nguyen.
When the quarantine measures first went into effect last spring, audio streaming companies like Pandora and Spotify saw huge spikes in homebound users tune in through smart speakers.
While the growth rate in the use of voice assistants had previously declined, this new trend ultimately led to a slight spike in 2020, according to eMarketer. Another report from Pandora and Edison Research last fall found that the time each day spent on hearing became smarter Speakers spent increasing 43% from January to October.
However, Khurrum Malik, head of global business marketing at Spotify, said the listener base is clearly declining to mobile device usage.
“We’re seeing listeners being more drawn to smart speakers right now because they spend more time at home,” Malik said. “We believe that in 2021, if all goes well, mobility will increase more and people will increase their exercise outside the home.”
Julie Ask, research analyst at Forrester, said that the current popularity of voice devices is so dependent on specific applications and contexts that usage will inevitably decline as people return to life outside of their homes.
Virtual event technology
Although face-to-face meetings inevitably resume once they are safe, many brand activation and event organizers plan to add a virtual element to physical spaces.