Yet another year has gone by in a flash. With 2022 out of the way, 2023 has already shown us what an exciting year we have in front of us as a lot of technology companies emerge from the shadows of the pandemic. With the recently concluded CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas and the Auto Expo in Greater Noida, we now have an idea of what awaits us over the next few months in India and across the world.
Here’s a look at the trends and gadgets you can expect to see a lot of in 2023:
1. Virtual reality/Metaverse: Virtual reality (or VR) uses computer technology to create a 360 degree simulated environment. It’s an immersive experience for the user. To gain access to the virtual world, you need a VR headset. There are many notable examples: the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, which are already out in the wild. One entrant though, might turn the industry upside down.
Apple’s headset that blends augmented and virtual reality is probably the most anticipated unveiling of 2023. Apple has been working on this device for years and is expecting to take on Meta platforms (aka Facebook) head on. Apple’s eventual goal is to bring to market a pair of lightweight AR (augmented reality) glasses and replace the smartphone altogether. The most recent news to come out mentions that Apple is working with Disney and Dolby for content on the headset.
Meeting, talking, and just co-creating in the metaverse might just explode in 2023 as companies like Microsoft and Nvidia get in on the act. These two companies, among others, are developing metaverse platforms that will allow for collaborations on digital projects.
Thanks to the advancements in motion capture, our avatars in the virtual worlds may just look exactly like we do in real life. Furthermore, motion capture allows for the adoption of one's body language and unique gestures.
Sony’s PSVR 2 releases on February 22, 2023. It’s a headset that pairs with the company’s PlayStation 5 console. It has a higher resolution display, faster refresh rates and features like eye tracking, haptic headset feedback and 3D audio.
2. Green technologies: We’ve finally gotten to the point where renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels. There’s been a ton of research and development poured into renewables and climate change over the years and it's finally bearing fruit. In 2023, one can expect progress in green hydrogen. When water is split into hydrogen and oxygen, thanks to electrolyzers, and powered by renewable energy, it produces hydrogen without any greenhouse gas emissions. This is known as green hydrogen.
At the recent Auto Expo, in Greater Noida, both MG Motor and Toyota unveiled hydrogen-powered vehicles. Toyota showcased the second-gen Mirai hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicle (FCEV), which comes with 174hp and has a driving range of around 640 km.
MG Motor, on the other hand, showcased the Euniq 7 (with a 201hp), with its 6.4kg hydrogen cylinder. The company said that the car can be refueled in a matter of minutes and has a range of up to 605 km.
Neither Toyota nor MG Motor have announced any plans to release these cars in India yet.
3. Foldable devices: Foldable devices are about to take centre stage in 2023. These are devices that can be ‘folded’ to become more pocketable, and unfolded for more screen real estate. Samsung kicked things off at CES by showcasing a new 360-degree folding phone. The “Flex In & Out” display can be folded both inward and outward according to The Verge, which got to demo the product. Furthermore, thanks to the new hinge design, there’s a significantly less visible crease. It’s possible that this display features in Samsung’s next Galaxy Z Fold device launching in the second half of the year.
Google isn’t far behind with its first folding smartphone. The Pixel Fold, as the device is rumoured to be named, has been leaked, in various iterations. While there aren’t any concrete details yet, the folding phone is expected to be shown off later in the year. Other companies like Oppo and Xiaomi are expecting to launch more refined foldable models later in the year.
According to Counterpoint Research’s Global Foldable Smartphone Market Forecast, Q3 2022 report, global folding smartphone shipments are expected to grow over 50% year-over-year in FY 2023.
4. The rise of the ‘super apps’: There are currently three Indian conglomerates - Paytm, MyJio and Tata Neu - building Super Apps in the country.
Paytm, which started in 2010, is probably the biggest of them all. Paytm has been slowly but surely adding features - mobile recharge services, bill payments, Paytm wallet and more - over the years. Recently, they’ve added movies, events, flight bookings and introduced the PayTM QR code. As of 2023, they offer over 200 services and will only grow further.
MyJio: Reliance Retail has gone ahead with a massive revamp of the MyJio app after acquiring JustDial, a local search engine. Right now, MyJio offers over 20 consumer-facing mini-apps. From UPI to mobile recharge options and even JioMart for ordering groceries.
Tata Neu: The newest entrant into the ‘super app’ game is none other than Tata Neu. They launched in April 2022 and have been getting bigger and bigger day after day. They even have NeuPass, their loyalty programme. The app features all of Tata’s marquee brands across fashion, travel, entertainment, fitness and much more. In 2023, they plan to open the platform for non-Tata brands.
5. eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle) aircraft: The future of flying is here, but probably not in India, any time soon. Think of this scenario: you take off in a small aircraft (helicopter-like) and go short distances without worrying about emissions or the expense. Best of all, it’s noiseless. That’s what eVTOL aircrafts are.
There are plenty of firms developing eVTOL aircraft. It’s cheaper to run and easier to maintain than traditional helicopters. The goal is to reduce the cost of flying albeit while being as green as possible.
Vertical Aerospace, a Bristol-based company, has planned a series of test flights for the VX4 aircraft. The company hopes to progress from vertical take-off to forward flight. It’ll also fly at faster speeds and higher altitudes this year.
Then there’s the Germany-based company Volocopter, which has planned many public test flights of its VoloCity model in 2023. It plans to get it certified in 2024 and launch services in Paris, Rome and Singapore.
A UK startup by the name of ARC Aero Systems has just announced a nine-seat VTOL aircraft as they gear up to revolutionize inner-city travel.
6. Electric cycles: Electric cycles are useful when climbing hills and other scenarios as compared to regular bicycles. Just the other day, Indian e-cycle startup Gear Head Motor was featured on the reality show Shark Tank India where they secured funding from Aman Gupta, the founder of boAt, and Peyush Bansal of Lenskart. In January, Firefox launched their first app-controlled electric bike for the Indian market.
At the moment, two types of e-pedals exist in India. There’s throttle-assist, where the motor can be shifted on the back and help the bike move without pedalling. The other type is pedal-assist, where human effort is reduced by up to 80 percent. In pedal-assist, the motor only gets going when the user starts pedalling.
EMotorad also launched a range of e-bikes recently. There’s the affordable X-Factor range that features detachable batteries and LCD displays and comes with several levels of pedal assist.
Many more models are expected to launch throughout the year as the electric cycle market heats up.
Here’s an honourable mention for the gamers: It’s been a long 10 year wait, but the latest iteration of Activision Blizzard Inc’s role-playing series Diablo is finally ready to be released to the public. Diablo IV and its horror-filled landscape is one of the most anticipated developments that gamers across the world are looking forward to. Mark your calendars for June 6. The game is currently available for pre-order.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist