January is a fitting month not only for retrospectives but also for wild predictions about the things to come. Various tech portals, experts and journalists are falling over themselves in offering their views on the things to watch for this year. In this article, we take a closer look at these trends and list the most prominent tech predictions for 2020.

5G networks to gain popularity

The launch of 5G connectivity around the globe has begun as some countries are already embracing this technology. But we can hardly talk about worldwide adoption here. We’re expecting it to change in 2020 – not only in terms of deployment and availability of the standard but also in greater awareness of the benefits behind the technology.

The blazing speeds promised by 5G network not only result in 10x improvement over 4G but also significantly reduce lag and response times – from 10ms to just 1ms. We’ve written about the significance of 5G for the media in another blog on our post.

What does it mean from the average consumer’s perspective? Better throughput for more reliable streaming of 4K/8K content and various new possibilities like streaming of data-intensive content that were not possible with slower connections: VR, and 360-degree and HDR videos. Still, even outside TV, broader availability of 5G will certainly pave the way for completely new, exciting technologies, e.g. various IoT devices which will operate more reliably and independently of WiFi and cable connections.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Through better availability of 5G networking, cloud and edge computing will become more popular, resulting in bigger popularity and better capabilities of IoT devices. Why? It’s all about decentralization. With 5G, computing will not be done in remote centers. We may be witnessing the beginnings of a distributed computing platform which spreads across all connected devices.

It is already happening, but expect to see broader integration of IoT with more areas like industry, logistics, medical treatment, and intelligent city, etc.

Streaming wars will get serious

In 2019 we witnessed the birth of new video platforms: Disney+ and Apple TV Plus –  we’ve written about the two before. But what we saw in 2019 was only the beginning. The industry will soon get even more crowded as new platforms like NBCUniversal’s Peacock and HBO Max are on their way to the party.

At the same time, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and CBS All Access are here to stay. The platforms will certainly fight for dominance, but this will result in various acquisitions and consolidations in the coming years. The competition will also drive subscription prices down. A combined monthly fee for 3-4 streaming services is already cheaper than paying for your cable subscription, not to mention that users can freely cancel their subscription whenever they want.

Bottom line: streaming will become even more affordable and attractive for the subscribers. Some of this is already happening in the form of bundling – you get free Hulu if you subscribe to Spotify.

8K TVs

The Japanese broadcaster NHK was the first provider around the world to stream 8K content back in 2018. But it goes without saying that most consumer displays can’t even handle such resolution without scaling down to their native resolution. Mass-market 8K broadcasts have yet to take off fully, and we’re looking for it in 2020.

As for the 8K television sets, many of them were announced at CES 2020, and many will hit store shelves in 2020. For now, they carry rather heavy price tags (an 8K TV will set you back thousands of dollars), but the prices will drop as competition between manufacturers gets denser.

Cloud gaming

The gaming industry has always pushed the limits of hardware. But high-end processors and graphics cards have not only been expensive but also very rarely built to stand the test of time. Most hardware becomes obsolete after just a few years. This is one of the reasons video games have always been held back by the limitations of PC hardware. Cloud-based gaming offers a solution to hardware ageing by delegating all processing to the cloud, and always offers superior gaming experience. This is another interesting trend to watch in 2020.

The exceptionally bad launch of Google Stadia (Google’s cloud gaming platform) was marred with issues but is very unlikely to stop cloud gaming from gaining popularity in 2020. Apart from Google, other technology powerhouses like Microsoft and Apple are already working on their similar platforms. The goal is to provide superior gaming experience to everyone without the need for expensive, powerful hardware standing next to your TV. Although the beginnings are not very promising, there is no stopping.

And since video games are already a $100 billion-plus industry, everyone wants a piece of the pie. Cloud gaming services like Google Stadia may soon be to gamers what Netflix is to film enthusiasts.

Deepfakes

Deepfakes made a lot of fuss in 2019, and their popularity is expected to grow in 2020. We’ve covered the subject in a recent post on the blog. This technology presented us with completely new ways of disseminating false information, many times it left us almost defenceless and lead to misinformation and devaluation of truth in 2019. There will be more deepfakes, but in 2020 we’re also expecting to witness the emergence of completely new ways of detecting and eliminating them.

Artificial intelligence in video

AI and Machine Learning are already big. What we’re expecting to see more of in 2020 are the technology’s specific applications in video content. And this not only regards detecting deepfakes. Employing AI in the video is also about developing smart algorithms that analyze videos to know what content to suggest to a viewer.

Better Software Group partnered with Warsaw University of Technology to build a proprietary system that enabled real-time descriptions and categorization for video content.

The system, called Automatic Content Enrichment (ACE) allows content-hosting companies offering video content on the internet, and will enable precise adjustment of the content of the ads and the time they are displayed to each user’s preferences.

Automatic Content Enrichment enables the replacement of selected advertising breaks with personalized content from the ad server. The users, unaware that they are watching a targeted advertisement, receive it as a part of the live content. It also offers algorithms that analyze video materials to offer contextual ads targeted to the currently broadcast video content; marking the beginnings and ends of individual programs in live broadcast, in order to sell information to the owners of nPVR and CatchUP services; match the program to the EPG position.

And the more content people produce, the bigger the need for technology that can quickly make sense of it and organize it. This might include auto-checking of technical video standards, optimizing ad placements and creating searchable metadata for videos (using image and speech recognition to enable fully automated, searchable archives).

Last words

Many of the above trends only continue or build upon what was already popular in 2019, but the themes are rather clear. The technology of 2020 will bring better connectivity, more accessible content, convenience and even more data.