2020 Trend Watch

Mon, January 6, 2020
Anne Corning  | 

It’s a new year, and (in the popular imagination if not strictly by calendar math) a new decade, making this a perfect moment to look ahead at some of the technology predictions and trends anticipated for 2020 and beyond. Whether these prognostications turn out to be accurate, well, only time will tell. Here’s a wrap up of some of the future forecasts in IT, AR/VR, displays, automobiles, and more.

Overarching Technology Trends

To kick things off, industry analyst firm Gartner has identified 10 “strategic technology trends” for 2020. Gartner defines a strategic trend as one that has the potential for substantial disruption, is beginning to break out in the market beyond early adopters, and/or will reach a tipping point in the next five years. According to Gartner, future tech trends include:

1.    Hyperautomation – combining machine learning, packaged software, and automation tools to do work previously handled by humans.
2.    Human Augmentation – encompassing new ways technology can enhance physical and/or cognitive functions and environments of humans—for example, via wearable devices.
3.    Autonomous Things – going beyond just the connected architecture of the Internet of Things (IoT), future devices will use artificial intelligence (AI) to automate functions in a way that enables more interactive responses to environmental inputs.
4.    Democratization – providing people with access to data and analytics tools, AI tools, design and programming, and knowledge that empowers them to build and contribute to tech applications even without domain expertise.  

Read more in the Gartner Report.

Market research and analysis firm TrendForce provides this handy graphic encapsulating their picks for the top 10 trends in information and communication technology. (Image Source)

Living on the Edge

Gartner, Forrester Research, and VentureBeat all call out “Edge Computing” as another big IT trend poised to break out in 2020. “Edge” refers to the literal geographic location of computing activity. Instead of centralizing everything into the cloud, an edge approach decentralizes certain computing functions back to the sources and users of the data that’s being processed. Driven by a concurrent rising trend in IoT (which tends to move computing activity towards the connected devices at the edge), in 2020 the edge service market is predicted to grow 50% or more.1

5G Will Be Key

A game changer in 2020 is also predicted to be the rise of 5G networks. While a bit underwhelming in 2019, 5G still holds the promise of significantly higher speeds, coverage, and responsiveness over current wireless networks. As 5G networks are expected to improve reliability and performance, they will be key to enabling other trends, including the rise of IoT and edge computing, by delivering faster data speed to all the distributed devices out there. “One important benefit of the technology is its ability to greatly reduce latency, or the time it takes for devices to communicate with one another. That will be important for the compatibility of next-generation devices like robots, self-driving cars and drones.”2

The Future is Quantum?

Quantum computing—the melding of quantum physics with computer science, mathematics, and engineering—is still in its early stages, but many technologists and scientists are excited at its potential for vast computing power that could revolutionize encryption, networking, complex data simulations, and more. Consulting firm Tractica reports that quantum computing still needs a market in suitable applications to take hold before the technology will become mainstream, however, continuing investment in R&D, and new attention from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are helping to move the field forward. With the advent of 5G resulting in a vast increase in the number of connected devices and sensors globally, quantum encryption capabilities are expecte to play an important role in security. Read more on Quantum Xchange.

AR/VR Trends: Prepare for the AR Revolution

Analysts seem to agree that augmented reality is ready for a breakout year; the technology is predicted to grow to one billion users by the end of 2020.3 They see AR booming in applications as varied as retail shopping, autonomous vehicles, indoor navigation, enterprise/industry, medicine, and the military. Improvements in AR hardware geared specifically for the enterprise market are expected to support adoption.

We are also likely to see increasing integration of AR and AI. Read more about AR/VR trends from Analytics Insight, MobiDev, and VentureBeat

Meanwhile on the VR side, gaming applications dominate, and 2020 promises an explosion of multi-sensory experiences. VR devices and games are increasing user immersion by integrating haptics (such as shoes, gloves, vests, and sleeves that let a player “feel” the in-game action), enhanced sound, and vibration.4

Cybershoes let you “walk and run” in a virtual reality game (expected to be on display at CES 2020).

Display Trends: OLED, MicroLED, and Beyond

The display technology trends of the last couple of years—increasing use of OLED, emergence of foldable and flexible displays—are predicted to extend into 2020 and beyond. For now, LCDs will continue lead the television market. MiniLED and quantum dot displays are also expected to establish themselves, while the microLED supply chain continues to invest time and resources in resolving issues with manufacturing complexity and production yields. Read more on these display technology trends from Display Daily.

Digital signage is also predicted to grow as large-format screens and outdoor displays spur creative uses and designs. And of course, the use of digital displays for advertising (programmatic displays) will increase, as marketers find new channels to push content to all your screens (phones, televisions, computers, social media platforms) and even through your in-home smart speaker. Learn more about anticipated trends in digital signage, from AI to interactivity.

The most creative digital signage of 2019 may be this LED globe, created for the Queensland University of Technology by Planar.

Automotive Trends

As the second most data-driven industry in the world, digital trends continue to loom large in the automotive forecast, including the biggie: connectivity. Consumers want their devices, apps, music, and entertainment available everywhere, and their vehicle is no exception. In 2020, expect in-car WiFi to become a standard feature in new car models. Read more about digital automotive trends.

In terms of automotive displays, the market is expected to grow by a CAGR of 7.8% to 2024.5 No surprise, this growth is driven in part by rising demand for navigation and infotainment systems within the vehicle, and the increasing use of electronic content (such as camera images).

Just a few of the many locations that displays are being integrated within the vehicle.

And of course, no discussion of the future of the car industry would be complete without mentioning autonomous driving technology, which continues to be a hot topic for investment and development. “Although level 5 (fully autonomous) has not been realized…some Tesla cars can be switched to autopilot mode on the highway, but this is only possible up to level 2 (driving support) or level 3 (operated by the driver in an emergency).”6 Industry analysts expect to see many examples of autonomous vehicle tech at this year’s CES.

To get a look at many of these trending technologies—from foldable phones and the latest AR/VR, to futuristic cars and robots—CES 2020 will be the place to be, starting tomorrow (Jan 7-10) in Las Vegas. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled!


  1. Suril, A., “Predictions 2020: Edge Computing Makes the Leap”, Forrester, November 4, 2019.
  2. Chen, B., “The Tech That Will Invade Our Lives in 2020”, The New York Times, Jan 1, 2020
  3. Trends that Will Transform The Augmented And Virtual Reality Industry Outlook in 2020”, Linchpin SEO, December 26, 2019
  4. Brown, S., “CED 2020 gaming predictions: Virtual reality, haptics and more hardware we expect”, CNET, January 1, 2020.
  5. Automotive Display System Market Report: Trends, Forecast, and Competitive Analysis, Market Report by Lucintel, August, 2019
  6. Uzzaman, A., “10 technology trends that will impact our lives in 2020”, VentureBeat, December 30, 2019.