The future is here: the five most important electronics trends
Hardly anything moves as fast as the world of electronic products. Things that were in the realms of science fiction just a few years ago are now part of everyday life. But what can we expect from the electronics sector in the near future? We took a close look at the five most important trends.
Not so long ago, it was still hard to imagine that combustion engines would soon be a thing of the past. Nonetheless, the automotive sector has undergone enormous changes in recent years (see also the section on “Energy efficiency” below) and e-mobility is clearly here to stay. The next stage in this development – self-driving cars – is as inevitable as the lights turning red just before you get there. One company has already developed a self-driving vehicle that is ready for production, even though it isn’t used on the roads. Agricultural machinery manufacturers John Deere & Company have come up with a tractor that can be steered with centimetre accuracy using an app. Even though there are still many concerns to be ironed out – not least legal ones – it is only a matter of time before this trend spreads to vehicles on public roads. According to a study by German economic research company Prognos, 70 percent of passenger cars will be self-driven by 2050. These vehicles will need to have huge amounts of processing power on board – experts suggest something in the region of five gigabytes of data per minute.
To sum up: Whether it’s e-mobility, autonomous driving or vehicle connectivity, the importance of electronics in the automotive industry is also (or especially) growing as the age of the combustion engine draws to a close.
The term “metaverse”, which originated in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, describes a virtual, digital three-dimensional world in which people – as “avatars” – can play games, shop or experience events. With the growth of the metaverse, AR/VR (Augmented/Virtual Reality) products are becoming increasingly important, particularly in the gaming sector. In future, however, virtual worlds like these will be used more and more for trade fairs and conferences, and by educational institutions for lessons, lectures and training. The trend towards people meeting up in cyberspace, which was given a major boost by the coronavirus pandemic, is still continuing at a breakneck pace. This means that every bit as much effort is being devoted to producing optical components like Micro OLED, MiniLED and pancake lenses as to developing the main hardware itself. US companies are already on board with their wearable devices – Apple expects to showcase its mixed reality headset by summer 2023.
To sum up: In future, AR/VR applications will play a central role not just in consumer electronics but also in professional fields up to and including architecture and transport.
The bigger the better. That has clearly been the thinking with TVs in recent years. 32-inch, 42-inch, 55-inch, … according to statistics, the average screen size in living rooms is constantly on the rise. As US market research company Grand View Research reports, the highest sales figures in 2022 were recorded in the 46- to 55-inch segment. At the time of writing, 65-inch devices are already very popular – and it won’t be long before 75-inch screens are the next big thing. Televisions with optimized resolution beyond full HD are selling like hot cakes as well. According to research company Omdia, OLED TVs already accounted for more than 50 percent of the European premium segment in 2022. One year previously, market leader Samsung generated almost 45 percent of its worldwide sales revenue here with its QLED screen technology. In addition, the Korean company developed a portable TV projector (“The Freestyle”) that can transform walls, ceilings, floors or any other indoor surface into a screen. Largely in response to mobile streaming, other providers are also developing battery-powered portable devices that don’t need to be plugged in. The advantage of these over tablets and laptops is their larger screen diagonal with high image quality.
To sum up: In spite of the decline in global unit sales since the pandemic-induced boom, TVs are still a permanent fixture in most households – and consumers are generally unwilling to skimp on quality.
It’s hard to imagine a world without mobile phones. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, more than 6.6 billion people were already using a smartphone in 2022. As well as this, 3.4 million apps are available and were downloaded a total of 275 billion times. Almost 90 percent of mobile use time can be attributed to apps. So it’s no wonder that companies are looking more and more to software innovations for phones, especially in the fields of artificial intelligence, Augmented/Virtual Reality (see also “Metaverse”), e-commerce (mobile payment options) and voice recognition. Moreover, providers are focusing on the best ways to integrate streaming services. From a hardware perspective, the trend is towards increasingly sophisticated cameras and exceptional displays. Even though LG recently cancelled the production of its rollable smartphone, there is still great demand for smartphones with bendable, foldable screens.
To sum up: Innovation in the mobile devices sector is among the most dynamic of any sector right now. While the main focus here was previously on hardware, it is now on software development and on apps in particular.
Climate change, energy crisis, protecting the environment – hardly any branch of industry can escape the burning issues of our time. The upshot of this is that more and more consumers are paying attention to energy efficiency when buying electronics products – and companies are sitting up and taking notice. For instance, when CES – the world’s leading consumer electronics trade fair – was held this January, Samsung Electronics declared that developing sustainable innovations was the company’s “key value”. This means that the next generation of washing machines will have special filters that prevent microplastics in the laundry from reaching the water cycle. There will also be new types of remote controls that can be charged without being plugged in. Using radio frequency energy harvesting, small amounts of energy can be extracted from an electromagnetic field for devices with low power consumption. In this way, it is even possible to charge remote controls via WiFi. However, smart homes (homes with networked technical devices) and smart grids (intelligent, efficient power grids that transport data as well as energy) play their part in sustainable systems as well.
To sum up: Sustainability offers great potential for both customers and providers of innovative solutions and products.