Wild tech predictions for 2022 that probably won’t happen

Tech Predictions
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What’s the point of prognosticating if you can’t swing for the fences, amirite? Sure, you can go elsewhere and read predictions for a very incremental 2022, but you come to me for the wild stuff, the possibilities that will make you go, “Wow, didn’t see that coming.”

These predictions aren’t necessarily unhinged but I think most prove that while we can move the needle in key tech sectors, we’re also just as likely to muck it up or make the wrong choices. Case in point: in 2021 we’ve seen a raft of amazing wireless earphones that include water resistance and noises cancellation, and yet we still choose the most expensive option from Apple.

As we close out 2021 and step in 2022, I’d like to prepare you for what will inevitably be the two steps forward, one step back nature of all things technology.

Let’s get started:

The metaverse

2021 was the year Facebook forced us to confront the possibility of a virtual existence but the current reality of this unreality is less than ideal. That might change in 2022.

It’ll be full speed ahead for VR and NFT fans in a suddenly exploding Metaverse World where everyone’s bought cheap VR headsets from Meta ($99 sounds about right) and is locking down for an hour a day or more to have virtual meetings, play still-blocky Capture the Flag, and cook metaverse animals with digital spices.

We will shop for NFTs (worth even less in an all-virtual world) and virtual cars that we can then drive to our virtual friends’ houses, where we’ll take turns trying on Metaverse outfits.

Reports of people suffering from something called meta-aversion will be widespread.

Regulation

We’ve been talking about tech regulation for all of 2021, with endless hearings and even more posturing (by politicians and tech leaders).

In 2022, the U.S. government will stop holding hearings and pass, with President Biden’s signature, the first online bill of rights and regulations that will remake COPA and the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230, so that they all finally make sense—meaning these companies are no longer shielded from responsibility for the content on their platforms. Social media and tech firms will have exactly 12 months to fully comply with all the new rules or pay hefty fines each quarter.

Shortly after, lawmakers will realize that the new laws repeatedly mention Jack Dorsey as the CEO of Twitter (he left in 2021) and the company “Facebook” which no longer exists.

AR Glasses

After years of companies big, small, and vaporware jockeying for pole position in what will surely be one of the more impactful personal technology segments in years, augmented reality enters a new phase in 2022

Apple, Snapchat, Google, Meta, and 45 other companies will release their latest augmented reality glasses, but Apple will rule the day with $799 iGlasses that, while being significantly more expensive than, say, Google’s $99 NotGoggles, will sell 10 million units in the first quarter.

Space

Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos got his astronaut badge and we launched Captain Kirk (William Shatner) into space, making 2021 the year of private citizen space junkets. However, space tourism is but the Kármán line of space possibilities. We still have Mars to attack and the moon the reexplore.

No one will make it back to the moon in 2022, but we will see the first private astronaut spacewalk. It would’ve been Jeff Bezos, but Blue Origin’s New Shepard only spends about 3 minutes in space on each launch—not nearly long enough to venture outside the capsule.

The task will ultimately fall to an upcoming SpaceX Dragon or Starship launch. Elon Musk himself will do the honors, stepping outside the capsule to affix a Dogecoin sticker to the gleaming silver surface of his spaceship.

Pandemic

2021 marked another chapter in this long and interminable pandemic existence. However, by 2022 our approach might look a little different.

With the world experiencing its sixteenth COVID variant (YaMomma), the CDC and WHO will launch a global vaccine pass for Android and iPhone that works with virtually every healthcare system, vaccination verification, and test-site and -result. No more cards, just phones you can tap against new NFC-based vax readers and go—everywhere (provided you have a mask and lots of hand sanitizer).

All of the systems will break when Apple releases iOS 16 and Google launches Android 13.

Internet stability

We learned a lot about how the Internet really works in 2021, most of it not so good. 2022 will be the start of people taking proactive steps to ensure its stability.

Tired of the all-too-frequent outages, governments around the world will propose massive redundancies for backbone systems. Unsure of what they mean by this, Amazon, Cloudflare, and others will unveil v2 of their cloud services. AWS2 and Cloudflare2 will launch in mid-2022 and crash for a few days in August 2022 and again in December.

5G

Thanks to 5G support across Apple iPhones and most major Android releases, plus the rapid expansion of 5G support from T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T, most of us have at least experienced a little bit of 5G’s formidable throughput power. We’ve also been mostly underwhelmed.

5G’s incredible promise will become reality in 2022. We’ll finally see traffic lights talking to each other and passing cars over 5G. A few overzealous car companies will add audio reminders that are triggered when a light notices a speeding car or one not slowing down for yellow. Sound systems will shout “Slow down!” at odd intervals, all thanks to the promise of 5G.

Robots

For many of us, the images of a troupe of robots dancing to “Do You Love Me,” (delivered just as 2020 was ending) is hard to shake. Those accomplishments may pale to what I think is in store for us in 2022.

Boston Dynamics and Jeff Bezos will partner up to deliver the first Bezos Bot, a robot that looks like Jeff Bezos but that shockingly has no interest in Star Trek, space, or online shopping. It will be a fitness buff, though, and will help its new owners get in shape with lots of curls.

In the meantime, Elon Musk’s teased humanoid robot will be delayed indefinitely as he claims that someone dumped a virus onto his robot development system back end. Bezos will reportedly be seen smiling sinisterly elsewhere.

Wearable technology

Roughly 100 million people now wear Apple Watches, and quite of few of them are doing it not just for the time or helpful pop-up notifications. They wear them to keep track of their health. The trend of on-your-wrist body diagnostics will accelerate in 2022.

We’ll see the first wearable blood draw from a startup known as Thernot. It won’t be widely adopted because—well, for so many obvious reasons. But Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and others will read your blood sugar level without touching real blood, and other companies will look to add mobile saliva analyzers to the mix. Numerous complaints about people spitting on their watch in public scuttle their widespread adoption.

Chips

The silicon squeeze (chip shortages) is now expected to last well into 2023. However, that will not slow down chip innovation. The race is on for faster, smaller, and energy efficiency.

Intel, Apple, and AMD will introduce 1-nanometer concept chips that prove more powerful and power-efficient than any previous silicon.

Each company abandons its plans by the end of 2022 as they find they keep losing the microscopic chips halfway through the fab process.

Lance Ulanoff
Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.


Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.