Marketing professionals are still talking about the 2020s as if yesterday was January 1st. But there’s some truth in their implication that the decade is still fresh and brimming with possibilities. Some of the coolest technical trends have already shown their faces, like wireless chargers, remote-access home security devices, super-smart locks, personal-use AI products, and more. The term futuristic is barely used in advertising anymore, which says a lot about how fast the consumer tech market is advancing.
Once on the extreme high side of the price scale, as in they were shockingly expensive, wireless charging devices are now sprouting up everywhere. In this product category, it’s all about lower prices and diverse product lines. When wireless chargers first appeared, they were mostly selling in the automotive market for electric cars. Prices were high but not prohibitive. Now, due primarily to consumer demand, price tags are descending into the realm of the normal. One area where there has been massive growth is in the small device segment. Buyers are snapping up cordless phone chargers and dozens of similar battery boosters that plug into a wall so your device doesn’t have to. For example, the phone charge pads look like tiny hot plates that connect to any standard outlet. Place your smartphone on top of the pad and wait a while for the battery to fill up.
The advance of AI has finally come to the world of personal finance. A field in which simple apps and planning programs were once the hottest of the hot has now become the forefront of artificial intelligence. Even if you hire a human financial planner, like a CFP or CPA, your data will still end up in one of their high-end programs that does a deep-dive analysis of your daily spending habits, historical saving patterns, and dozens of other pertinent factors. The result is a tailor-made, extremely personalized money plan that can help you save for a new home, put enough away for a child’s education, or pay for your own advanced degree.
When you employ an AI program on your own or buy into one your CPA uses, you get a lot of bang for the buck. For example, most AI bots will offer several recommendations based on your initial queries. If you want to cover the costs of a college degree that you never finished, the high level app might advise you to apply for private student loans. These kinds of loans offer competitive interest rates, come with no early payment penalties, and feature very reasonable terms. Even without a high-end computer planner or experienced CPA as a guide, most college-bound adults opt for private loans for the higher borrowing limits and straightforward applications.
Bring up the topic of 5G phones in a random group of people, and you might just be starting an argument. For some reason, there has been a lot of controversy around the debut of this new phone technology. Without taking a side, here are the pros and cons of this hottest new consumer product:
- Pros: 5G phones are super-fast, can handle as much as a standard computer, and are certainly the next step in the evolution of communication. Massive memory, storage space galore, frightening speed, unmatched agility, and incredible sophistication are the hallmarks of 5G communication devices (to call them phones is almost an insult).
- Cons: The new networks could make most current smartphones obsolete, which means yet another round of upgrading and replacing whatever you have. A few scientists think 5G networks could have an adverse effect on humans, but there is no solid proof of this claim. Finally, super capability means a need for super battery power and a potentially super-crowded frequency range.
In fewer than five years, 3D printers, like wireless chargers, have gone from wildly expensive to reasonably priced. Now, individuals can afford to create anything they can imagine with a small 3D printer. For small manufacturing companies, these devices have already been game-changers. Instead of paying a machinist to design and produce parts for a complex machine, for example, in-house technicians can simply make their own. Individuals are using the printers to make small-scale works of art, gadgets, and replacement parts for their own vehicles. It’s fair to say that as prices continue to come down for larger, higher-end 3D printers, there will be an explosion of interest in home-based manufacturing, invention, and selling.
Home security took a giant leap into the future when smart locks made their debut on the consumer market about a decade ago. For several years, the technology didn’t change much. However, recent upgrades to those first locking devices for residential and office spaces have been significant. Today’s smart locks for homes boast the utmost in security. They can’t be picked, and most of the better ones can recognize your face or fingerprints. The downside is that they do occasionally malfunction, which can leave owners stranded outside their homes or offices until a locksmith arrives.
Computer-based language translators have been around since the early 1980s. Those crude, early versions were nothing more than electronic vocabulary databases and had zero audio capability. Everything was printed or displayed on a fuzzy screen. Modern AI-based apps are something to behold, boasting massive vocabulary and grammar capability, voice-recognition, and audio output that sounds nearly human. Travelers began discovering and buying the translators a few years ago and the market is currently red hot, with multiple competitors vying for prominence.
In the old days, which means more than two years ago, if you wanted to know exactly what was wrong with your car, you had to visit a mechanic, who would run a computer diagnostic evaluation of your engine. Those days are ancient history. Newer on-board diagnostic gadgets might not be able to repair your vehicle, but they can tell you what is wrong with it. Some even include databases that offer rather accurate cost estimates for repairs. When you head to the repair shop, at least you know what to expect. Or, if you’re a motor-head, you can begin working on your four-wheeled pride once you know what repairs are needed.