Here’s to the future- The New Indian Express

All gadgets are instruments but not all instruments are gadgets. Both work for humanity; scale and size matter. The first-ever computer set up at the University of Pennsylvania, US, took up a mammoth 1,800 sq ft of floor space. Today’s supercomputers snugly fit into the palm of your hand—technology is evolving with each passing nanosecond. The rise of foldable smartphones, wireless charging, and popularity of 5G will mark the tech narrative of 2020. High on energy, charged with passion, tech researchers are showing us the future you wouldn’t have believed 20 years before.

A headband to track your brain waves and make you relax, a battery-operated toothbrush that controls the intensity of bristle movement depending on your gum strength aren’t just DC comics. It’s happening right now. Technological advancement isn’t only about making a basic phone, laptop or a TV. Now it’s all about ‘connecting’. 2020 is when IOT and machine-learning take a giant leap. India with its 451 million internet users is a defining market. Despite 357 internet shutdowns in last five years, it will still be the tech biggie favourite simply because of the sheer size of its population and its curiosity about new technologies.

While 5G devices have been launched around the world since last year, this year officially marks its entry. But will it make it in India? It’s a million-dollar question. Unlike 4G and 3G, 5G isn’t about simply upgrading the speed of internet. Even a super-power like the US is faltering. AI is the name of the game. Flying taxis may be a reality to beat traffic jams. Or imagine hundreds of self-drive cars speeding down the highway knowing exactly at what distance and speed nearby cars are. 5G will ensure there isn’t a single millisecond lag. At industrial level, robots will connect to each other wirelessly and drones can monitor plant growths over agricultural fields. In short, it will be a Marvel(lous) universe.

Smartphones

Seems like every smartphone maker is on steroids when it comes to innovation. Foldable phones are going mainstream. Samsung Galaxy Fold is already here boasting a stunning 7.3” dynamic AMOLED display. It’s not just Samsung but MotorolaRazr, LG Bendi and Huawei Mate Fold too have bought into selling the foldable experience. The rumour is that Samsung is teasing a brand new innovation—a new rollable phone with a slide-out screen. That’s right! It has a button which pushes the other screen to pop out from 6 inch to 8 inch.

Cameras in smartphones will be more powerful and versatile. While 48MP and 64MP are already common, Xiaomi’s Mi Note Series 10 has a 108MP camera, all ready to make its India debut. Expect a couple of other Chinese phone makers to follow suits. Huawei is working on P4 Pro with 10X optical zoom. The power of camera will be unleashed more thanks to Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 865 chipset that supports an up to 200 MP camera. Needless to say, a couple of launches this year with jaw-dropping camera specifications are in the offing.

With young minds getting hooked on battery-draining apps such as TikTok and more, it’s important for manufacturers to take battery-life seriously. Samsung did put a marathon battery in Galaxy M30. But the Snapdragon 865 processor with deep learning ability will be able to manage power more efficiently.
While Android phones are going big, Apple’s 2020 plan packs a punch. A 5G iPhone is already in the pipeline. Each iPhone has evolved from its predecessor. However, Apple’s new strategy, particularly for growing economies, is aggressive pricing. We might soon be getting an iPhone SE2 to comfort our wallets with limited features but aspiring brand value. It’s a tough call and choice.

Laptops

Yes, a laptop that bends. After a curving TV and bending phones, laptops are the next shape-changers. Microsoft has already talked about Surface Neo, which has two hinged 9-inch screens and a detachable silicon keyboard. You can hold it like a Kindle or use it like a conventional laptop. Dell has teased Concept Ori and Concept Duet, both foldable notebooks.

5G is imperative to meet all professional needs de jour. Hence, HP has officially launched Elite Dragonfly, the world’s first business convertible laptop with 5G support. This is also the first-ever lap-comp with built-in Tile, the world’s leading smart location company. Bingo! That misplaced or lost notebook no longer can stay AWOL.

Gaming

Gaming keeps getting bigger and better, both in content and innovation. A trend that has organically developed is cloud gaming, where you can play without using expensive hardware. But 2020 will be defined by high-end gaming rigs and next-generation voice headsets.

The latest Sony PS5 will sport a redesigned controller with haptic feedback and evolved touch-sensitivity to enhance the feel of rumbling and shaking while playing. “So crashing into a wall in a race car feels much different than making a tackle on the football field. You can even get a sense for a variety of textures when running through fields of grass or plodding through mud,” Jim Ryan, the CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment wrote in a recent blog post. We can’t wait to play.

Keep an eye out for

Gadgets

The Conran Shop Chipolo Bluetooth tracker
A little over an inch long, this little guy will help you track down anything and everything you cant find. Almost.

Samsung Galaxy Active2 stainless steel smart watch
The sleekest of all smartwatches, the Active2 offers customisable screens and comes with sleep and meditation programmes.

Sonos Move

Finally a portable speaker that boasts an ergonomic pick-up, 10 hours of battery life. It is also weather-resistant.

DJI Robomaster S1

You can programme this ‘robot’ using Scratch 3.0 or Python. AI-enabled, it recognises different objects and responds to sounds.

Anova Nano precision cooker

Want to sous-vide meat without your kitchen top getting wet? Enter the Anova Nano. Stick it in a pot and it heats the contents in a jiffy. It even connects to your phone via Bluetooth.

Geneva Acustica Lounge Radio

With foundation-shaking bass, this home radio has an alarm clock with your favourite music as a morning alarm.

Fujifilm Instax Link Smartphone printer

Too busy to get your favourite photos printed? Simply hook it up to the Instax printer for those glossy mini-prints.

Brisant Secure Ultion smart lock

A door handle that is sexy and secure. Unlock it with your smartphone, or set it to unlock automatically when you’re within range. It can be voice-activated with Siri or Alexa.

Ring Fit Adventure (Nintendo Switch)

This inventive attempt aims to combine gaming with exercise. The resistance ring and leg strap act as controls for a fitness-based RPG.

Dyson Lightcycle

It tracks local daylight and adjusts itself to enhance your mood and reduce eyestrain. It also has its own app which syncs it with your sleeping schedule.

Click And Grow Smart Garden

If you are one of those who want a teeny fab kitchen garden, but simply do not possess a green thumb, then this is your go-to kit. It features LED grow lights and even waters itself.

Skyroam Solis

This portable wi-fi hotspot works in over 130 countries by providing instant 4G coverage.

Parrot Anafi Drone

Almost weightless, this foldable drone with a 4K HD camera stays air-borne for 30 minutes on a single charge.

FIXD

This vehicle health monitor diagonses any problem in your vehicle in under a minute. It is compatible with all cars built after 1996.

Xtra-PC

If your old PC or laptop is turning your workstation into a slow-moving traffic zone, plug this Xtra-PC USB drive with an in-built Linux-based operating system and reboot. Voila! It’s as good as new.

Mosquitotron

A lethal non-toxic anti-mosquito trap whose UV light will attract and suck in the critters and dry them to death

Echo Show 5  

This new, smaller version is Amazon’s way of saying no more snooping.

Charmin’s bear-faced toilet roll robot

Did you run out of toilet paper while in the midst of…? Get a Rollbot. It can be operated through a cellphone app to deliver a fresh roll of toilet paper directly to your seat if you have run out.

Ember 14 oz. Temperature Control Mug

A must-have for writers who often forget the steaming cuppa on their desk. With patented internal heating technology, the Bluetooth-connected gadget promises to keep your coffee mug warm for an hour.

Oculus Go Virtual Reality Headset

Want to feel right in the midst of all the action on TV, games or movies? Try this 360-degree virtual reality headset.

The Smart Mat

With the help of Alexa, it listens to yoga asanas with a voice command. Why we love it? It rolls itself back up after your session. Kind of defeats the purpose of exercise though, doesn’t it?

Bondic

This is the final frontier of fixing broken things from sat-on eyeglasses, leaky pipes, cracked plates, mugs and what have you. Apply a special liquid to the damaged area and shine its unique UV light for four seconds and you are good to go.

BarxBuddy

Trouble training your dog? Press the button, and the sleek gizmo will emit ultrasonic sounds only pooches can hear.

InfinitiKloud

In our digital world, backup is of utmost importance. Simply plug it in and keep all your files safe.

Hudway Drive

Definitely for those who end up driving a good distance to and from work. Place it on your car’s dashboard and it wirelessly mirrors your smartphone’s screen right in front of your eyes—perfectly visible both at night and day.

Chargers

PhoneSoap 3 UV Smartphone Sanitizer & Universal Charger

The ultimate bacteria killer for cellphones, it sanitises the phone as it charges.

Vanmass Wireless Car Charger

Mount it on the dashboard and it acts as a wireless charger.

InvisiCharger

Making the phone charger and even the tabletop wireless charger redundant, the InvisiCharger can turn any surface into a charger. All you need to do is to place it below the surface.

Wearables

It is just taking baby steps in counting steps and calories, but the wearable market’s growth exceeds imagination. It has successfully driven many to the treadmill simply because you wear guilt on your wrist. However, wearables are getting better. At CES 2020, we have seen the Withings Scan Watch incorporate an ECG and AFib detection capability in a smartwatch. It has also added a VO2 Max feature and an ability to detect sleep apnea.

IEVA Time-C smart watch can detect UV rays, pollution level, solar radiation and humidity. This information is for the benefit of the wearer to get personalised data about health and environment. It offers suggestions to make things better, too.

The wearable market in India will clock US $1,556 mn this year. Revenue is expected to grow annually at 4.7 per cent, resulting in a market volume of US $1,870 mn by 2024. At such a juncture, we see a price decrease driven by stiff competition.

Huami Amazfit T-Rex

Target

This watch is built for people from all walks of life simply because of its price. However, what adds value to it is the rugged look, built in MIL-STD-810 military-grade standard.

Tech specs

An in-built GPS, heart-rate sensor, Bluetooth 5.0 and a marathon battery define the Amazfit T-Rex. The watch should be able to last 20 days on a single charge.

Pros
Battery life
Military-grade
Water-resistant

Cons

No NFC
Lacks a blood pressure monitor
No oxygen monitor
Price : Less than Rs 10,000 in India
Availability: In the next few weeks

Huawei GT 2

With Huawei’s self-developed wearable chip Kirin A1, dual-chip design and intelligent power saving technology, the GT 2 is a premium smartwatch.
Features
A mono speaker on the right and microphone on the left. It monitors heart rate, counts steps, measures sleep and calories, and boasts an option to check stress levels.
Plus
Battery life
Premium looks
Minus
No NFC support
Not really customisable
Price: Rs 17,990

Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch 5 lacks in many departments when compared to the segment standard—sleep tracking, improved battery life and smart straps. Apple fans expect these elements to be prioritised in the new smart watch. Chances are the new Apple Watch will have a new display. So, instead of OLED, it might get micro LED to optimise power efficiency. The buzz is that a touch ID fingerprint scanner is probably in place.

Price: Around Rs 30,000
Availability: September 2020

Robots

Artificial intelligence and robotics are changing the way business is done. Deep data innovators are doing wonders across the board. From tracing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia early to customising foods good for you, AI-enabled super robots are just the beginning of a new world.

Samsung Ballie

Samsung couldn’t achieve with Bixby what Google did with Google Assistant. The Korean tech giant seems to have shelved off expanding Bixby and instead introduced a couple of AI-enabled devices. One such gizmo is Ballie, a tiny ball-shaped robot that rolls, understands and supports you and reacts to your needs and is actively helpful around the house. Ballie’s On-Device AI capabilities enable it to be a fitness assistant and a mobile interface to fit changing needs of users.

Health Partner

Samsung is tuned into evolution of the modern culinary journey where appliances become cooking partners—a personal chef, nutritionist, and shopping assistant all rolled into one. Intelligent and innovative technology can customise the complete food experience for consumer: thoughtful recipe suggestions and meal planning tailored to personal preferences and what’s on-hand to seamless grocery shopping, delivery and cooking. The company also highlighted a growing station for garden produce at home and Bot Chef, a robotic food preparation assistant.

TV

The TV scene this year is nothing like you have witnessed till date. More than just huge screens with brighter images, the stress is more on technology: read MicroLED, MiniLED, QLED, OLED, 8K and so many.

Motorised TVs are getting the eyeballs. LG’s roll-down OLED TV, which looks like a harmless sound bar in the corner of the room will pop up a 65-inch screen at your command. It is priced at US $60,000. The screen rolls down from the ceiling at the touch of a button. This maximises space. The 65-inch screen has a super thin panel and resembles a projector.

Curved TV is old hat. LG is putting a TV on the market which bends at your command. The trick with Curve TV lies in sitting in the centre of the couch; a glance from the side and your perspective gets puzzling. Not in this case, though. To offer the best of both the worlds, this TV curves and un-curves at your word. Creating the maximum buzz at CES in Las Vegas was Samsung Sero.

Aimed at the mobile generation which scrolls TikTok videos, YouTube and Instagram too frequently, Samsung has a TV which stays in portrait mode by default. Give the order, and it will flip to standard wide-screen which measures 43 inches and costs an estimated US $1,600. You can mirror your phone with the TV with one tap.2020 has a TV that listens to you as well. Connecting your box with Alexa is no big deal. But what new is that TVs are getting microphones. So before signalling Alexa or Google Assistant, TVs that can switch on/off, control volume, play favourite TV shows all with just a command are here. TCL has launched C8 Series with built in Google Assistant, a 4K AI smart TV at `49,990, which even works without remote.

While OLED and 8K are going big this year, Samsung may also introduce a hybrid technology—quantum-dot OLED or QD-OLED—which pairs organic light-emitting diodes with Samsung’s highly refined quantum-dot technology. The result is a TV with enhanced lifetime and eco-friendly diodes.

Apps

Google Pixel 4

Google’s updated version of the ‘Night Sight’ camera allows for crystal clear astrophotography, besides improvements such as touchless gestures, facial recognition and 90Hz display.

Adobe Photoshop Camera

This powerful photo-editing app uses Sensei (Adobe’s artificial intelligence platform) to recognise the subject and suggests filters accordingly.

Waverly Ambassador Translator

The next time you are in Japan, or China, or France, use this app. Can’t find the nearest sushi bar? Attach one pod of your earphones to your ear, give the other one to the local you are asking for directions to hear a simultaneous translation.

Biugo

If you love to post videos on apps such as TikTok and Instagram, Biugo might come in handy. Create innovative and funny videos, besides choosing from a huge music library.

Microsoft Math Solver

It solves the problem, shows you the necessary steps and also comes with a drawing board where you can jot down the math equation. Do the math.

Press

Perfect for those who are obsessed with taking quick notes. Since the app is still in the making, a few features are missing in the description.

Tile Shortcuts

It’s the ideal app for you if customisation is your Kryptonite. This amazing app lets you add customised tile to the Quick Settings menu.

Muviz Edge

An app that merges lovely music with gorgeous visuals—it adds the visuals to the edge of your phone and comes to life whenever you’re listening to music.

Fancy Camera

All those selfie-lovers, here’s to you! This photo app comes with pre-installed filters designed to boost the look of your portraits and selfies.

Xender

This user-friendly app fulfills all your sharing needs. It has a simple interface and doesn’t need a network connection and supports cross-platform transferring.

Maybe, Maybe Not

Robot Puppy: Millions of health-challenged pet lovers cannot safely or practically care for an animal companion. Tombot’s emotional support robot puppy—Jennie—is the perfect match for them. Touch sensors all over its body allows her to respond based on how and where she is touched. Voice activation software allows it to react to your commands. Just tell her to speak and she’ll speak! A dog that talks, imagine that.

Food-delivery Cat: Chinese firm Pudutech has developed BellaBot, a robot cat to ferry plates to customers at a restaurant. It can carry up to 10 kg of food at one go. On receiving the order, the customer can scratch behind the robot’s ears and watch it purr with pleasure.

Wearable Subwoofer: As if we got tired of the Bluetooth speakers too soon! This wearable subwoofer created by BassMe lets you strap the gadget against your ribs. Apparently the audio quality is quite impressive.

Smart Bins: If you are sick of leaky trash bins and packing
a trash bag is too much of a hassle, Knecktek Labs has developed Smart Bins that produce sealed trash bags and keeps odour at bay.

Alexa-integrated Showerhead: Kohler launched a showerhead a few years back, which was enabled to play music in the shower. Having discontinued the product, Kohler has now come out with Moxie Showerhead, which does the same job but is integrated with Alexa. So you can now just command your favourite track to sing along while getting wet wet wet.

Predictions

Apple’s 3D camera:

“There could be a new TrueDepth camera system that cuts down on the size of the notch on the front, and there are rumors of a 3D triple-lens rear camera system that uses a laser to calculate depth information for objects in the room, improving both photography and AR capabilities.”
MacRumours.com

Expensive phones:

“Whether you blame the ongoing trade war between the US and China or the increased price of components from chipmakers such as Qualcomm due to 5G connectivity, your 2020 phone is going to be the most expensive yet.”

Alex Dobie, Android Central Global Executive Editor

Sustainability Trends

Improving energy efficiency, responsible recycling and sustainable material management are now the driving principles of most tech companies. Designing, sourcing and manufacturing sustainable products speaks not only to the efficiencies of a company’s supply chain, but also to its commitment to environmental stewardship.

Google

By 2020, 100 per cent of all shipments of Made by Google hardware going to or from Google’s direct customers will be carbon neutral. The Nest Mini enclosure is made from 35 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic, and the fabric covering is made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles. The process provides a second use for the bottles, so they don’t end up in landfills. In fact, one half-litre bottle can make enough textiles for two Nest Mini speakers.

Microsoft

Microsoft’s approach to sustainability includes eco-friendly product design and packaging, responsible sourcing and manufacturing, creating more energy-efficient devices and investing in end-of-life programs. Microsoft’s Surface personal computing devices are environmentally compliant (including meeting restricted substance requirements) in each country where placed on the market and use packaging materials which contain up to 77 per cent recycled fibre materials and are 100 per cent recyclable.

Sony

Sony is endeavouring to achieve a zero environmental footprint by 2050. As part of its efforts, the company continues to expand the use of SORPLAS—a flame retardant plastic resin made of up to 99 percent recycled plastics and can be recycled repeatedly. SORPLAS is used in the components of the latest TV models ZH8 and AH8 displayed at CES (Consumer Technology Association) 2020.

Celeb Wishlist

Shah Rukh Khan
Apple airpods

Ellen DeGeneres
Bose headphones

Meera Vasudevan
Self-focussing adjusting spectacles

Krishnappa Gowtham
Flip phones and Fitbit

Gordon Ramsay
Nutribullet blender

Ariana Grande
iPhone 11 Pro Max

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