What I am excited about in 2020 and 2021

Technology shifts at breakneck speed with new products being released every day, new patents being registered every day. Very few of them eventually see the light of the day and fewer make a mark on the world. 2019 for me was the year of voice-enabled speakers, machine learning, and multi-camera phones.

Although 2020 has turned out to be the year of coronavirus with remote working (Slack, Teams and Zoom) and contact tracing apps occupying the most mindshare yet the year is not over yet. There are several promising technologies that I am keeping a close watch on which can move to become giant ecosystems in themselves. These can be companies, products, open-source technologies, hardware platforms, new tech-enabled business models, but something that drastically alters the way people and businesses live and thrive. Although each warrants its own blog post due to its potential, seeing it all come together gives you a fair idea about where the world is heading.

1. No-code / Automation tools

Excel is the tool that kickstarted the no-code revolution enabling millions of people to create quick automation tools for carrying out simple tasks – Data Entry, Expense Management, Quote Generation, etc. It is bound to be around long after we will be gone with the way it has ingrained itself in people’s lives with many schools teaching it as a mandatory course. No-Code and Automation tools enable non-programmers to quickly build apps without writing a single line of code. Zapier is the best example for the same with an ARR of $35M, a 20X revenue multiplier would imply a valuation of $700M. This is for a tool that does simple tasks like saving your email attachment to Dropbox.
Tray.io, Integromat, Appgyver, Appsheet, Airtable, Bubble, and tens of others are trying to capture what Zapier and IFTTT have built. Let’s see what the next year has in store for them

Example of a no-code automation builder

2. GraphQL and Strapi and …

GraphQL is a query language for APIs and a runtime for fulfilling those queries with your existing data. In layman’s terms, it reduces the developer effort of writing custom API by a large amount with having to describe the data structure only once. Facebook and multiple tech giants are using GraphQL in production today. With tools like Strapi and Hasura, building out an API has never been easier today. I am pretty sure this is a technology which is here to stay

Side-note: Building an app has never been easier today, with hundreds of no-code, e-commerce, and automation platforms, I expect a lot of simple SaaS apps to be launched now. This is a nice list of these apps

3. Oculus Quest

Virtual reality has been hyped for too long now. But Oculus Quest might be able to finally get it right. With a low price point, hundreds of games and apps on the platform, and COVID-19 pandemic it has already started selling out. Having used it before, I can say the experience is extremely good and this can be the next big gaming moment. Virtual collaboration using https://immersedvr.com/ might be a good usage of the technology

Screenshot of Oculus Quest

4. LoRA

LoRA is a long-range (10km +) low power sub-gigahertz radio frequency protocol useful for battery-powered IoT devices transmitting small amounts of data. Although this technology has been flying below the radar, yet thousands of sensors are being manufactured with LoRA capability with a number of deployments taking place. New low power chipsets are being developed actively with LoRA now being used for utility metering in India, smart parking, reindeer tracking, sea turtle monitoring the usage for the same are endless. You only need to take a look at https://lora-alliance.org/showcase to understand the broad usage of this technology and subsequent platforms and deployments possible in all areas of life

Screenshot of LoRaWAN Certified Devices

5. FPGA

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are semiconductor devices that are based around a matrix of configurable logic blocks (CLBs) connected via programmable interconnects. FPGAs can be reprogrammed to the desired application or functionality requirements after manufacturing. FPGA is a big deal, as they can be reprogrammed until the ASIC or processor design is final and bug-free. Intel acquired eASIC as a way to accelerate its designing and prototyping process. Imagine being able to work at the chipset level to create dedicated chips for AI, Image processing, Video streaming, the possibilities are endless. Market size is estimated to be close to $10B
This is a good article explaining the potential about FPGA

6. Netflix for Games

Pay X dollars per month, get access to hundreds of games, streaming, and an ecosystem. With Playstation and XBOX soon to launch their new consoles and Google Stadia already out in the wild, everyone will try to get as many subscribers and titles to their platforms and create lock-in.

GeForce Now has a small library of just over 400 excellent games

7. Windows for Linux

Microsoft has doubled down on its efforts on Linux and open-source to ensure its as easy to deploy enterprise apps on Azure as it is on Linux. Their new Terminal for Windows 10 works almost similar to any Linux terminal which appeals to the developer community to a large extent. Microsoft has been appealing to developers like never before having missed the App Store revenue stream, it does not want to be left behind for whichever new platform will come.

More developers -> more apps -> larger platform -> more Windows licenses -> more Azure servers -> more enterprises sign up

8. Animation Engines

I have covered the Unreal Engine can become the AWS of Gaming but the trend to bring animation tools and engines by the likes of James Cameron and Disney is slowly making its way to the hands of new creators with a tight budget. Expect a lot of innovations in this area to bring the creation of animation to everyone. Case in point – Pose Animator. I expect a lot of YouTube Creators to start using these new technologies.

9. Notion

Notion describes itself as an all-in-one workplace for notes, documents, wikis, projects, and tasks. It claims it is the missing piece for Slack. ( I had written about office collaboration tools before). With remote work being the new normal Notion’s usage has exploded in popularity. It is already a unicorn with $2B valuation

Have I missed out any worthwhile technology that can potentially change industries? Do let me know in the comments

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