The year 2021 should be marked by several technological innovations currently under development, and some of them already ready. The smartphone, gaming, computer and television sectors are all equally affected. Overview.
Looking in the rearview mirror, it is clear that 2020 was a strong year in terms of innovation: between the overpowered Apple M1 chip, the new graphics cards from Nvidia, the processors from AMD, the consoles. next-gen, the many cloud gaming services, 5G, more efficient audio devices or even more autonomous driving systems, tech enthusiasts have been spoiled.
Does the 2021 vintage have such intense and exciting dynamics in store for us? At first glance, it will be difficult for it to match its predecessor. But this new year still has some interesting changes in store for us that we wanted to address in this recap article.
Smartphones: evolutions by small touches
Today, smartphones suffer from a small lack of pace in terms of innovation. Of course, mobile devices welcome ever more powerful processors now compatible with 5G, but in fact, the uses imagined for ordinary people remain the same. Foldable phones are trying to be a game changer, but this type of product still belongs to a niche due to its high cost.
Camera under the screen
The year 2021 should however bring its small batch of novelties. Starting with the famous front camera placed under the screen. Several manufacturers are working on the subject: Xiaomi presented its own technology in August 2020, when ZTE has already formalized a first phone equipped with a camera under the screen. Being a pioneer is good, but offering mature technology is better. However, this was not the case.
There is no doubt that other manufacturers will join the party in the coming months.
Extended fingerprint sensor
If the fingerprint sensor under the screen has largely democratized over the past two years, its location remains limited to a specific location. The situation could change, since said sensor could extend to a much larger area. In other words, the user would be able to put their finger anywhere on the screen – or at least over a large area – to unlock their phone.
On this point, Vivo has as usual taken the lead with its Vivo Apex 2019, which was only a concept not doomed to commercialization. Huawei is also on a war footing with an internal project under development. To say that other manufacturers are working on the subject is not a big risk. It remains to be seen whether this will be ready for 2021 or not.
Variable focal length
Oppo could be the first company to integrate an optical zoom with varifocal focus on one of its smartphones. The file is in any case on fire, and could bring some significant changes. Today, switching from one optical zoom to another forces the phone to switch from one sensor to another. Each sensor has a single fixed focal length.
Installing a variable focal length system would allow switching from optical zoom x2 to zoom x5 on the same sensor. Better: the device could also offer an optical zoom with all the intermediaries between x2 and x5. A way for the user to benefit from a more flexible optical zoom, and obviously more qualitative than a simple digital zoom.
Consoles and gaming: Unreal Engine 5 awaits firm footing
With each new console generation, Epic Games – the creator of Fortnite – concocts a new version of its Unreal Engine game engine, mainly used by video game studios. This engine takes care of everything you see on the screen: from textures and animations to shadows, particles, objects or camera angles, to name a few.
For the release of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S and Series X, Epic Games has therefore formalized Unreal Engine 5, expected in the course of the year 2021. The games next-gen developed from this version will therefore have the right to an even more beautiful rendering, in addition to taking advantage of all the power of the consoles next-gen.
Unreal Engine 5 also makes it easier for developers thanks to two new tools available to them: Nanite, which allows them to work more easily on the geometry of environments; and Lumen, which corresponds to a lighting management system that is both dynamic and responsive in real time.
Laptops: Nvidia and AMD in force
In 2020, the desktop computer market was entitled to new graphics chips and processors signed Nvidia and AMD respectively: the RTX 3000 range on one side, the Ryzen 5000 range on the other. As such, the second named has overtaken the unbeatable Intel on the sale of processors for desktop PCs. A first in 15 years.
The point is that these graphics cards and processors will be available for laptops. In 2021, this product category will therefore welcome more advanced components, which will bring with them a significant leap in computing power. All at a price relatively equal to today’s solutions.
The ultraportables of tomorrow will therefore be even better suited to run ever more greedy games over the years. According to rumors, Asus and MSI will be the first to take advantage, followed by Lenovo, Dell and HP in April. AMD and Nvidia should logically benefit from Consumer Electronic Show (CES) to make announcements.
Microsoft Cloud PC
Heavyweight in cloud services (Azure, Office 365, Xbox Game Pass), Microsoft wants to consolidate its position by launching Microsoft Cloud PC in 2021. What does this new service consist of? To a Windows 10 computer available in the cloud in exchange for a paid subscription available in Microsoft 365.
The Redmond group is not the only one positioned in this niche, but Microsoft remains a giant in the sector that must be monitored closely. Hosted on Azure, Cloud PC will initially be intended for professionals: working remotely in a professional environment directly from your personal machine will then be possible.
According to several leaks, three configurations will make up the final offer: one for classic use, the other two for more advanced uses, such as data analysis. Will the American firm then open its service to the general public? The question is asked, but it does not seem to be the priority.
Televisions, foldable smartphones
What other innovations could we see in 2021? Transparent televisions could, for example, take up more space, especially since LG’s product induction, one of the industry leaders alongside Samsung. Panasonic and Xiaomi have already launched theirs, although this type of TV is still aimed at professionals.
New formats of foldable smartphones could also be appropriate. Many manufacturers are taking a very close interest in folding phones: it may be time for innovation to stand out from the rest. We will obviously keep a close eye on all these novelties for 2021.