As the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed almost every aspect of life at home and at work, people have turned to niche or unnecessary technologies over the past year.
Tools ranging from voice devices to augmented reality saw a wave of adoption in 2020. But with widespread immunization finally on the horizon, companies now find themselves trying to predict which technologies will stay in the lockdown era and which will become permanent devices.
“People can move away from these technologies, but now that they see the value [and] they understand now how it has benefited them, i think they will definitely use them more in the long run, ”said Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen.
Brands that do the right math stand a chance of generating millions of revenue in untapped markets in 2021, while companies that make the wrong bet risk becoming an artefact of a bygone era.
Augmented reality is one piece of technology that experts say will continue its recent arc of growth beyond the pandemic. The media format saw a big boost in popularity in recent months, mainly driven by retailers create virtual trial experiences. A EMarketer survey found that the share of U.S. retailers planning to increase their investment in AR or virtual reality more than doubled, from 8% last January to 21% in June.
Consumers won’t need to rely on AR tools to try products like cosmetics and sunglasses after stores fully reopen, but analysts say they could do it anyway.
“This marks an important inflection point in the trajectory of AR, not only in retail, but towards mass adoption,” said Helen Papagiannis, a mixed reality consultant and author of the book Augmented Human .
Social apps like Snapchat and Instagram are also constantly making it easier to produce AR tools for brands and agencies. Additionally, 5G networks are configured to increase the speed and complexity of graphical wireless connections that can support.
“The same way we might think of the internet in relation to our parents or grandparents, the next generation will think of AR this way,” Nguyen said.
When the quarantine measures went into effect last spring, audio streaming companies like Pandora and Spotify big recorded peaks home users who connect from smart speakers.
While the growth rate of the use of voice assistants was previously declining, this new trend ultimately led to a slight uptick in 2020, according to eMarketer. Another report from Pandora and Edison Research Last fall, the time spent listening to smart speakers daily increased by 43% from January to October.
But Khurrum Malik, head of global business marketing for Spotify, said he relies on his listener base to significantly revert to using mobile devices.
“We’re seeing listeners turning to smart speakers more right now because they’re spending more time at home,” Malik said. “We believe that in 2021, if all goes well, mobile will increase more and people will increase their trips outside the home.”
Julie Ask, research analyst at Forrester, said the current popularity of voice-activated devices depended so much on specific applications and contexts that their use will inevitably decline as people come back to life outside of their homes.
Virtual event technology
While in-person gatherings are required to resume as soon as they become safe, many brand activation and event organizers plan to supplement physical spaces with a virtual element.