2020 is set to be yet another exciting year for the tech industry, especially from a consumer perspective. The innovations which were launched or announced in the past 12 months will either reach maturity or hit the market, and early adopters will feel the benefits of being ahead of the pack.
Here are just a few systems, solutions and devices to look out for in 2020, ranging from the partly practical to the immersive and entertaining.
Game Streaming Comes Of Age
Last November tech titan Google finally launched Stadia, its game streaming platform that effectively renders consoles and PCs redundant, at least on paper.
Rather than requiring high-end hardware to power the latest titles at home, users can stream games which are run on remote data centres, with support for 4K resolutions and HDR available.
This follows in the footsteps of similarly engaging experiences that were already being offered elsewhere, such as in exhilarating online casino games featuring live dealers streamed direct to players’ devices.
Google has secured the support of many major games publishers and is expanding the library of titles that feature on Stadia, so 2020 will be the year in which it really breaks into the mainstream. It will also be offering a free version of the service with a 1080p cap on resolutions.
Virtual Reality Gets Its Killer App
VR has technically been around for decades, and even the most recent spate of interest in this tech has been doing the rounds for several years at this point. However, throughout much of this time it has been both prohibitively expensive and also bereft of any experiences which are enough to convince average consumers to get interested.
Even Sony’s PSVR has been of limited appeal, with its games failing to stand out as system-sellers and the novelty factor playing a major role in attracting customers.
This will all change in March of 2020 when Valve released Half-Life: Alyx. Coming over 10 years after the last official expansion to the Half-Life main storyline, this is not just a digital sandbox built around some VR tricks, but rather a full, single player narrative experience designed by some of the most talented developers in the industry.
Its announcement late last year was enough to prompt a rush to buy Valve’s own VR system, known as Index, with these devices selling out pre-Christmas.
Half-Life: Alyx looks set to do for VR what the original Halo did for Microsoft’s first Xbox back in 2001, and could pave the way for a brave new world of truly must-play VR games.
Foldable Phones Become Affordable
The emergence of smartphones with flexible screens began in 2019, but was hit with some initial setbacks after envelope-pushing manufacturer Samsung had to recall its initial review units of the Galaxy Fold due to some serious hardware issues became apparent.
Having ironed out most of the major flaws, the Galaxy Fold eventually went on sale to the public, albeit with a price tag that would put off all but the most affluent customers.
Now, as the new year gets started, there are a growing number of foldable phone options both on the market already and scheduled to land at some point this year to provide more choice to consumers at a wider range of price points.
Brands including Motorola, Oppo, Huawei and Xiaomi all have devices which can be folded in half and used in various configurations on their books. Perhaps more surprisingly, Motorola is bringing the RAZR handset back from the dead, with a foldable screen giving this super-slender favourite from yesteryear a new lease of life.
Of course whether these devices are considered ‘affordable’ is a subjective issue, but even so as more mobiles join the ranks alongside the Galaxy Fold in 2020 there will surely be a bit of a price war amongst manufacturers and mobile providers from which consumers can benefit. Samsung is planning to even introduce a compact alternative to the Galaxy Fold called the Galaxy Flip which could help to introduce more people to the concept of flexible OLED screens.