The tech trends to watch in 2022

Here at Black Nova, we make it our business to keep our finger on the pulse of emerging tech trends. That’s because new technologies can take a long time to mature, and it can be many years before they have developed to the point that they are being regularly used by consumers and businesses. It’s only when that happens that we will start offering services and products to support them, but we need to be aware of what’s coming down the line. That way we can learn about the potential applications of new technologies and see exactly how they will help solve IT and business problems for our customers in the future. 

So, what new technologies can you expect to hear a lot about in 2022? Two that we’re keeping a close eye on are the metaverse and virtual reality (VR). They are very closely linked and while one, VR, has actually been used in lots of sectors for some time, it’s entering a new and exciting realm partly thanks to the ongoing development of the metaverse. Let’s take a closer look at what VR and the metaverse are.

What is virtual reality (VR)?

In simple terms, VR is a 3-dimensional computer-generated environment which mimics our actual reality – and even enhances it. VR promises to change the way that we interact with the digital realm and the most common consumer application of VR at the moment is by gamers who use headsets to navigate virtual worlds and interact with other users. But VR isn’t a particularly new or immature technology, it’s just relatively new to consumers. It’s used by surgeons to take patients through what their surgery will entail, step by step. It’s used to train firefighters and soldiers with a virtual ‘field’. For war veterans and other people who have lost limbs, VR can be used to ‘rebuild’ limbs and aid both mental and physical healing.

It would be a mistake not to talk about augmented reality (AR) here too, which instead of using a headset to place the user in a totally virtual world uses smartphones and tablets instead. The cameras on these devices are used to blend digital simulations with the real world. There are already countless applications of AR in regular use, from training surgeons when they learn complicated techniques to allowing people to ‘try on’ clothes or new hairstyles from home.

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is set to be a totally simulated environment in which people spend extended periods of time – they will socialise, work and play in 3-D computer generated worlds. What the metaverse will actually look like is still being debated at length, but the picture is clearer than ever before as we enter 2022. One thing most technology commentators seem to agree on is that there are three fundamental aspects to the concept – 3-D environments, avatars, and gamification. Fashion companies have already developed ways to sell computer generate ‘fashion’ to dress yourself in the metaverse, and US grocery giant Walmart is reportedly plotting how it can be part of the story. Microsoft has announced its acquisition of the gaming company Activision Blizzard, and that’s seen as an indication that gaming will be at the heart of the metaverse, at least in the short term.

Exactly how people will interact with the metaverse isn’t totally clear yet. As we said previously, it’s expected that people will use avatars in the metaverse, which are icons or figures which they can style depending on their personal taste. They will don headsets with microphones just as gamers do now to explore VR worlds, but there’s potential for a more realistic or immersive experience. For some, they would prefer to see their loved one’s face and their real surroundings when they interact in the metaverse, and it’s reported that the camera company Canon has started developing headsets with video calling capabilities to enable a blend of VR and AR.

How will VR and the metaverse change your life in 2022?

As the world around us gets ever more digital, it’s expected that sales of VR and AR technology will grow exponentially. 2022 is set to be the year that more and more of us adopt VR and AR in our day-to-day lives. More gaming and socialising will take place on VR platforms and, following the rise of remote working thanks to Covid-19, it’s predicted that VR and AR will find more uses in the workplace. Whereas Zoom is a very ‘2-D’ platform, VR lends itself to 3-D tools to help staff collaborate with each other and communicate with staff.

Technology journalists are cautious about how big a part the metaverse will play in our lives in 2022. It’s still early days, and it’s more likely that we will see more companies positioning themselves by dedicating resources to VR and AR technologies and acquiring smaller tech start-ups which give them a competitive edge.

One thing that is worth noting is that the development of virtual worlds such as the metaverse is currently being driven by powerful corporations such as Meta. That means it’s likely that they will be highly commercialised from the very beginning. If you remember the huge changes to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks once advertising became the real driver, we can expect to see familiar brands popping up in VR and the metaverse from the word go.