Tech That Will Change Your Life in 2022
Our tech columnists look ahead to the future of personal technology.
Our tech columnists look ahead to the future of personal technology.
A Facebook name change? A colossal global chip shortage? Digital art selling for millions? No crystal ball could have shown us what 2021 in tech would look like.
What we can say confidently is that 2022 will be full of excitement for new technologies (see: mixed reality and home robots), continuing discussion of tech’s impact on our world (see: social media and sustainability) and plenty of curveballs because lately it feels like all curveballs.
Here’s our list:
The days when people hunting for an electric vehicle had only a handful of choices are over. By the end of 2022, U.S. car buyers could have more than 100 different models to choose from. And many forthcoming models will be more affordable than what was available just a year or two ago.
EVs still make up less than 3% of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads, and research suggests price will be key to their wider adoption. (Another key is infrastructure. America has only a fraction of the public fast chargers experts say it will need.)
Globally, the average sticker price of EVs has declined 30% from 2015 to 2020, even as average range has increased 45%, says Scott Shepard, a principal research analyst at Guidehouse, a corporate consulting firm. He expects that trend to continue in 2022, with at least four more models of EV priced below $40,000 arriving in the U.S. market.
The Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck (with a starting MSRP of $39,974) may prove instructive. Ford had to close preorders for F-150 Lightnings after receiving nearly 200,000 of them; 75% are buyers who had never purchased a Ford before, according to the company’s latest earnings report.
Meanwhile, Nissan slashed the starting price of its venerable Leaf EV to $28,375 from $32,620, making it less expensive (after a $7,500 federal tax credit) than a comparable conventional 2022 Honda Civic hatchback. Many other models with starting prices under $40,000 from Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mini and Volkswagen are either here already or will be soon.
Microsoft made a mouse with recovered ocean plastic. Apple’s latest iPhone and iPad models contain recycled materials. Amazon’s new Echo display, also made with recycled plastics, saves energy while idle. Every major tech keynote in 2021 featured a pro-climate component, and there will be much more to come in 2022.
The sector has arguably a larger carbon footprint than the aviation industry, and tech companies are working to reverse course with sustainability efforts that now include the design of our phones, tablets and computers.
Sustainability also means holding on to the same devices longer. “The real problem is that the industry develops products with very short life time, that are hard to repair and that go to landfills,” said Magali Delmas, professor of management at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Device makers are attempting to address that, too. Apple is launching a self-service repair program in early 2022 to allow customers and independent technicians to repair devices using genuine Apple parts, a move Right to Repair advocates long lobbied for. And Dell recently showed off Luna, a concept laptop with fewer screws and no fan for maximum repairability.
In 2021, the world got the idea that social-media apps—especially Instagram and TikTok—haven’t been doing enough to protect younger users from seeing harmful content and getting sucked in by addictive features. In 2022, we’ll see more efforts to protect children, by lawmakers and by the social-media companies themselves.
For the early part of the new year, Instagram has promised to roll out alternatives to its main algorithmically driven feed, where users currently have little control over what they see. Instagram head Adam Mosseri also told a Senate subcommittee in December that the company would release more parental controls for teens in 2022, starting in March with a feature that allows parents to set time limits.
TikTok said it has begun to make changes to its algorithm so people don’t end up with feeds dominated by videos about eating disorders, depression and other possibly harmful topics. A company spokeswoman said it would continue to limit features by age and provide tools for parents.
Unconvinced that the companies will make the changes needed on their own, however, lawmakers are working on new bipartisan legislation. Sens. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) and Bill Cassidy (R., La.) have reintroduced the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act, or Coppa 2.0, which would extend current privacy protections to users 13 to 15 years old, ban personalized advertising to kids entirely, and more. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) are working on legislation to require more transparency into social-media algorithms.
Beginning in early 2020, global lockdowns led to a surge in demand for the things microchips go into—smartphones for staying connected, laptops and PCs for working and studying from home, automobiles in lieu of public transit.
That led to record demand for chips in 2020 and throughout the first half of 2021. There are signs that demand has begun to soften. Third-quarter sales of smartphones in China, the world’s biggest market for them, declined 9% compared with a year before. (Apple, however, said it continues to see strong demand for iPhones and predicts a record profit for 2021.)
No one is sure when the supply of chips will be able to satisfy demand fully, and some analysts say it might not happen until 2023, when a great deal more chip-manufacturing capacity will come online, from Arizona to Beijing. But between the world finally having enough gadgets for now and chip makers running their fabs all-out for the past 18 months, the end may be in sight.
Back in the year 2000, chip-plant operators projected demand would stay strong and growth would continue at a torrid pace, said Stephen Howe, SDI Fabsurplus, a dealer of used chip-manufacturing equipment. “Lo and behold, in June 2000, the whole market just dropped off a cliff, and I’m pretty sure that same thing is going to happen again,” he added.
Not coming in 2022: The all-helpful home robot who will take care of the kids, do the dishes and unclog the toilet. Coming in 2022: Home robots that can do more than your stationary smart speaker or roving vac—and might even keep us company.
Astro, Amazon’s Alexa-integrated household robot, uses sensors to roam around your home. It can do all the typical Alexa things (play music, answer questions, etc.) but it also uses its cameras to monitor your home when you aren’t there. If the robot is in the home of an aging relative, you can use a feature called “Alexa Together” to check in remotely.
David Limp, senior vice president of devices and services at Amazon, said Astro represents a shift to “ambient intelligence,” where our computers fade to the background and let us “interact in the real world and not have your head in a phone.”
Amazon began shipping the $1,000 Astro to a small group of invite-only testers in December. Mr. Limp said the number of people requesting invites is many times above his expectations, and the company is working on increasing inventory for 2022.
Similar devices such as ElliQ are already being tested with people 65 or older and living alone. Next year, the company plans to expand availability and add concierge services, which will allow users to order groceries and more.
Look, we get it, some of us have been saying virtual reality is going to change your life for half a decade now. But we promise you 2022 will bring significant technological progress to VR and better augmented-reality experiences, too. (Remember: VR transports you to a virtual world; AR overlays digital elements in your real world. Combined, they’re “mixed reality”—but we refuse to shorten that to MR.)
Meta (formerly Facebook) plans to release a headset more advanced and expensive than its current Quest 2. New sensors and improved optics in the device (code name Project Cambria) will make avatar-you more like real-you. You smile, your avatar smiles! Plus, the same device will be able to show your real physical space but with digital features dropped in—say, look at a giant virtual screen over your real desk. It’s all a part of the company’s goal to build the metaverse—a virtual world where we work, shop, hang out and more.
It won’t be a one-horse metaverse race. There are reports of a late 2022 release of an Apple mixed-reality headset. According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities, the headset will be powered by Apple’s own chips (like the ones found in its MacBooks) and have both VR and AR features. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
After a decade of slapping fitness trackers onto our wrists, the health sensors are starting to break free. The screenless Oura ring is packed with mini sensors for heart rate, blood oxygen and skin temperature. Whoop sells clothing, including bras and leggings, where its tracker can be strategically placed. The camera-less Google Nest Hub display uses radar to track sleepers. And mattresses from Sleep Number, Eight Sleep and others log sleep patterns too.
“It’s less about a new particular technology or sensor,” said Chris Becherer, chief product officer at Oura. Hardware makers are looking at more ways to simplify tracking, he added.
The next big health device might be your earbuds. Apple is studying the potential of AirPods to read body temperature and monitor posture, according to a Wall Street Journal report. People familiar with the plans told our colleague that the buds would take a wearer’s core temperature from inside the ear and lean on motion sensors to detect slouching. Apple is also working on iPhone features to help detect depression, the Journal reported.
If you’ve noticed that the display on your phone or smartwatch is brighter and higher in contrast than the one on your laptop, TV or car dashboard, you’ve experienced one of the biggest evolutionary leaps in display technology in recent years.
Since the iPhone X, Apple’s top iPhones have used OLED, “organic light-emitting diode,” a technology that distinguishes itself from LCD (liquid crystal display) because the pixels illuminate themselves rather than requiring a separate light source. The benefit is thinner, even foldable, displays, and better contrast and power efficiency.
Samsung’s phones had OLED even earlier—the Korean electronics giant was among the technology’s pioneers. You might’ve seen a few OLED TVs, but they have been quite expensive. The technology is now becoming cheaper to manufacture. Laptops with OLED displays began to pop up in 2021, and more models will arrive in 2022. The same goes for tablets and TVs.
MicroLED is another advanced display technology, one that could someday scale up to be an affordable successor to OLED. Samsung has already built video walls using these tiny self-illuminating pixels, but the cost is astronomical. At the CES tech show in January, Vuzix plans to show off smart glasses with miniature MicroLED stereo displays for augmented reality in the workplace.
Passwords are a mess. They can be guessed or stolen. So, to prevent hacks, we arm ourselves with password managers that generate unique, gibberish logins for each service. Many of us don’t even know our own passwords at this point! Thank goodness more services are moving away from them.
You can log in to WSJ.com, for example, by getting emailed a special link. Same with Slack and PayPal. Payment system Shopify and the reservation app Resy send codes to your phone number. Microsoft recently let users skip the password and instead opt for a code from the Microsoft Authenticator app, a security key or a verification code sent via phone or email.
One study, from identity-protection tech firm Transmit Security, found that consumers would be 44% more likely to sign up for a service if they could use biometrics and 35% more likely if a no-password option were available. “2022 will not mark the end of passwords, but we will see some watershed movements in that direction,” said Andrew Shikiar, executive director of the FIDO Alliance, which promotes the use of security key, facial recognition, fingerprint or voice-based passwords.
So long, 3G. Thanks for providing connectivity to older Kindles and Grandma’s flip phone. Next year, U.S. carriers are sunsetting their aging third-generation cellular networks to make more room for the superfast fifth generation, 5G. Yes, this means those 3G devices will soon be defunct.
The telecoms have plans to expand their networks in the coming year. T-Mobile said it would reach 50 million more Americans by year-end. And 5G isn’t just for phones. Carriers are using the network to provide home internet service where traditional landline providers have not. In September, T-Mobile expanded to cities in Florida and North Carolina, while Verizon added Fremont, Calif., and Niagara Falls, N.Y., to its 5G home coverage.
There’s a good chance our internet connections will get faster at home and on the move, though there are speed bumps. President Biden’s infrastructure bill, which includes $65 billion in funding for expanded broadband access in rural communities, passed in November, but the program includes a long application process for states. Plus, AT&T and Verizon recently hit a 5G rollout roadblock because of concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration about potential interference with cockpit-safety systems.
So you’ve been getting by, nodding along when people talk about cryptocurrency and NFTs, thinking all chatter about the decentralised web and blockchains will pass by like a cheetah on an e-bike. It won’t. Sorry. In fact, in 2022, you might even get in yourself as tools to buy, sell and send digital money and tokens appear in the apps, services and games you already use.
PayPal’s Venmo app and the Cash App from Block (formerly Square) now make it easy to buy cryptocurrency and send it to others. The Cash App recently added a simple way to give any U.S. user bitcoin using a debit card. More places you shop will also start to accept your favourite cryptocurrencies. Tesla now takes dogecoin for specific merchandise.
Will you join decentralised social-media sites like DeSo, which are powered by blockchain technology? Eh, probably not, but our current social-media apps may start to embrace this world. Instagram’s Mr. Mosseri said the platform is “actively exploring NFTs and how we can make them more accessible to a wider audience.”
Depending on where you live, there’s a chance a drone will drop you a delivery for the first time this year.
Flytrex, an Israeli startup operating three delivery stations in North Carolina, just received FAA approval to make deliveries in a roughly one-mile radius. The company said this will allow it to carry goods from a variety of retailers, including Walmart, to more than 10,000 households. Wing Aviation, owned by Google parent Alphabet Inc., is currently testing and expects to launch the first commercial drone-delivery service in a dense urban area—Dallas-Ft. Worth—in 2022, the company said in October.
Meanwhile, in the coming year, Cardinal Health will be using very different sorts of drones, small fixed-wing electric aeroplanes made by Zipline, to resupply pharmacies within 10 miles of one of its distribution centres in Kannapolis, N.C. Zipline said it is also doing home deliveries for Walmart in its hometown of Bentonville, Ark.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.
Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.
“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.
“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.
While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.
“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.
While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.
Anti Ageing and Beyond
“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.
On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.
Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.
Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.
Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.
Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.
“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”
Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.
Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.
Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.
Sanctuaries for Longevity
Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.
Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.
The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.
“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.
Resetting the Mind and Body
Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.
Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.
“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.
Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.
While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”
“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”
This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’