Fast forward 2024: Big changes to expect in personal tech

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There was a notable departure from mindless product launches, especially in the smartphone sector, in 2023. The conversation shifted towards emerging realms of technology, signaling a reconsideration of how tech could play a crucial role in our lives. This unexpected turn highlighted the industry’s adeptness at recalibrating its focus. The clear winner in this evolution was Artificial Intelligence. This marked a pivotal moment for personal technology, serving as an impetus for longer-term tech adoption. In 2024, we can anticipate continued momentum in AI, including its potential impact on the devices we use everyday and beyond. Here are four big tech predictions that could make a big impact in 2024.

The smartphone is about to become more smart in 2024. They won’t necessarily undergo a physical transformation, but they are poised to evolve significantly, introducing new use cases that will refresh the smartphone experience. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has played a pivotal role in smartphones, contributing to features such as voice dictation and camera enhancements over the years. However, the emergence of Generative AI is expected to bring about a completely different set of features.

In 2023, Google’s Pixel 8 series offered a preview of how AI can supercharge the smartphone experience with features like Magic Compose and Magic Editor. This served as a glimpse into what was about to come. Similarly, Qualcomm provided insight into what the 2024 smartphone might look like when it showcased the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip in October. The processor, destined to power every big-ticket Android smartphone this year, including the OnePlus 12 and Samsung’s Galaxy S24, brings on-device Gen AI into consumer-grade hardware.

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google pixel 8 review magic editor Magic Editor on Pixel 8. (Express image)

For example, a photo expansion feature allows the user to resize an image without distorting it or reducing the image resolution. In a demonstration, Qualcomm showed the use of a time-of-flight sensor to sample the number of particles present in the air and, using AI, determine the air quality to see if it’s safe to step outside. Another demonstration used infrared sensors with an AI model running on a phone to determine an individual’s hydration level with a touch of their skin. Maybe these features won’t come from smartphones immediately but it is a step up from where we are today.

Clearly, the conversation has moved past voice-based assistants such as Google Assistant and Siri, and auto-correction. The arrival of ChatGPT demonstrated that AI is more than just a buzzword, and processing generative AI tasks directly on the device at the chip level appears to be the future, at least for mobile devices. This implies that developers, OS providers, as well as OEMs, need to make changes to their apps and software to fully leverage on-device AI. All eyes are on Apple, the North Star, to see how it responds to Google and Qualcomm by bringing generative AI features to the iPhone.

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Screen-less gadgets and toys

If Humane’s Imran Chaudhri is to be believed, smartphones are on their last leg. But what will replace them? Well, a device like the AI Pin, meant to be worn on our clothing, allows users to take phone calls, send messages, and get answers to questions, all without ever looking at a screen. It’s a device that Chaudhri believes is the future of tech, but without screens, all powered by artificial intelligence. However, the question remains: can the device live up to the hype? It’s a question that is on everyone’s mind, but no one has a clear answer.

Humane AI pin An Ai Pin is worn by George Kedenburg III, a company employee, at the headquarters of Humane in San Francisco on Oct. 27, 2023. (Kelsey McClellan/The New York Times)

Chaudhri’s confidence in shipping the device in March for $699 proves he is ready to take on his ex-employer (in this case, Apple) with an iPhone killer. The stakes are high, but Chaudhri isn’t alone in the space. He might be the most visible one due to his experience at Apple, but experiments are on towards making screen-less, AI-powered products more popular and mainstream. For example, Grok is an interactive AI toy aimed at kids, letting them chat with the toy, ask questions, and discover imaginative play. The cute toy is voiced by the Canadian singer and songwriter Grimes (who is the mother of Elon Musk’s three kids) and is powered by generative artificial intelligence. Contrive Datum Insights says the AI-enabled smart toys market could be worth $35 billion by 2030.

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Expansion of augmented reality glasses

Apple Vision Pro new The Apple Vision Pro headset. (Image: Apple)

Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse not taking off, the market hasn’t completely shunned augmented reality/mixed reality headsets. With Apple launching the Vision Pro in “early 2024,” devices with mixed reality and augmented reality will finally come into focus, though the actual uptick won’t happen anytime soon. It’s still early days, and nobody knows which tech (either AR or MR) will be accepted. Experts expect more of these headsets to be introduced in the years ahead, even though early missteps and high sales prices have limited consumer interest to date. All said and done, 2024 will lay the groundwork for these headsets to create a new ecosystem like how smartphones did in the early 2010s. This is a good sign because companies like Apple can focus more on improving the experience and preparing developers for compatible apps, rather than rushing to sell more units to acquire new customers.

Portable consoles to dominate

steam deck oled The Steam Deck OLED. (Image: Steam)

2023 was a great year for handheld consoles, surprising insiders and trade pundits. While mobile gaming is huge, for the first time in a decade, portable gaming devices had a big moment. Valve strengthened its position with the Steam Deck OLED, and major PC makers Asus and Lenovo both introduced their first generation of handheld consoles to the market. Not to forget smaller players like Ayaneo and Analogue, who continued to launch niche handhelds, bringing new customers into the once-popular portable gaming territory. Sony also made its presence felt with the PlayStation Portal, although not the kind of handheld console we had been waiting for. Still, gamers never had a dull moment, as handheld consoles proved to be the best way to play games on the go. In 2024, Nintendo is rumoured to release the next generation of hardware, which many believe will follow the Switch’s form factor. Portable consoles could have an “aha” moment we have all been waiting for.

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Fast forward 2024: Big changes to expect in personal tech

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