The biggest tech trends to watch for in 2022

2022 will be a year of big tech promises. Whether companies can deliver is another question.

We’ll get our first clues at this week’s CES electronics show in Las Vegas — a sprawling event that offers an exclusive glimpse at the tech that could help shape the year. (That is, unless the high transmissibility of the omicron variant of the coronavirus forces organizers to shutter the show. Big-name attendees including Intel, Meta and Amazon have pulled out, and show organizers have shortened the event by one day — it now runs Wednesday through Friday.)

In many ways, 2022 will be a year of “hurry up and wait,” Carolina Milanesi, a technology analyst with research firm Creative Strategies, told us. Big tech developments like “the metaverse,” autonomous vehicles and greater repairability will take time to catch up to their hype, and companies must be careful not to overpromise, Milanesi said.

At the same time, companies need our buy-in more than ever. Smart home technology, health wearables and virtual reality all depend on our personal data to improve. If we don’t trust companies enough to share a whole lot of it, that technology gets stuck in the “my voice assistant still doesn’t understand me” phase.

Here’s what we expect — and in some cases, hope — to see in 2022.

A race into the ‘metaverse’

Facebook parent company Meta may have generated the most buzz with its foray into the metaverse — a theoretical shared space where people can hang out in virtual reality — but the other tech giants won’t be far behind.

2022 will be a “race into the metaverse” as large tech companies wrestle for slices of an emerging market, according to Rolf Illenberger, CEO of virtual reality software maker VRdirect. Google, Microsoft and Apple may introduce their own headsets and operating systems for the metaverse, like their equivalents for PCs and smartphones. (Just how “meta” this collection of walled-off virtual environments will be remains to be seen.)

The giants aren’t alone, either: In recent years, parts of the CES show floor have become a playground for start-ups building augmented and virtual reality headsets, and many are eager to make their mark on the metaverse. Meanwhile, there’s another hurdle the industry will need to clear. Companies developing software that runs in the metaverse would have to make sure those programs play nicely with different operating systems.

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