Here are the winners in technology for 2021


Although this year is by no means one to celebrate, there were still some bright spots in the tech world. It is with much hatred that we admit this: the NFTs somehow won this year. They have taken over. Reddit Day Traders also deserve credit for the way they have managed to deliver GameStop’s tagline, “Power to Gamers.”

Also (and this might be the most painful thing to admit), the Metaverse (sorta) took off this year. At least in terms of our lexicon, mentions of the word have skyrocketed since Mark Zuckerberg uttered it while announcing a plan for a richer world centered on virtual reality and augmented reality. Perhaps people were confused between “metaverse” and “multiverse” as in Dr. Strange in the multiverse of insanity?

In addition to the things we love to hate, this year there are also some products that we really liked. Apple continued to impress with its M1 chips, and more importantly, it gave users a way to repair their own devices (a bit). Google’s first mobile chip powered smart experiences on the latest Pixel phones and showcased the company’s AI and software prowess at a competitive price point. As we continue to be bombarded by depressing news every day, it is worth taking the time to reflect on this year’s victories, no matter how small.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 28: Digital artist FEWOCiOUS auctions five new unique NFT artworks, along with five never-before-seen physical paintings and drawings in a collection titled

Noam Galai via Getty Images

NFT

2021 hasn’t been a quiet year, so the NFTs deserve close praise for securing a spot on the highlights reel. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are an attempt to create an immutable digital asset in an environment where such a thing has historically been complicated. For industry advocates, it is a way to impose some kind of scarcity on digital artifacts that cannot be easily scarce. Anyone can right-click and save a picture of a monkey in sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt, after all. But only the person who paid a lot of money for the NFT can go around calling himself the “owner” of it. As Nietzsche didn’t say, NFTs are the agreed-upon lie, suggesting that people respect the owner of the certified copy of something above all else.

So far, the biggest and most notable moves in the NFT space have occurred in the art market, with pieces being bought and sold in staggering numbers. On March 11, digital artist Beeple sold Every day: the first 5000 days at Christie’s auction house for $ 69,346,250. Those large sums are, in some people’s minds, justified because they believe that NFTs will become the new crypto, and everyone will try to jump on the bandwagon before it gets big. After all, there are plenty of people who got rich during the Bitcoin boom who want to further improve their fortunes, while some who were left behind are now hoping to break into the downstairs at the next big thing. Others, meanwhile, think that the big buzz in NFTs right now is helping people move large amounts of money away from the auspices of, you know, regulators.

The NFT market is so flooded with hot money that it’s normal to have … questions. A recent Harvard Business Review The article talks about how commerce cannot function without “clear property rights”, which the NFTs help to enforce. There is also the question of whether NFTs could better enable more reliable and secure ticketing and permitting systems. I’ll be honest, I am personally not convinced by the argument that NFTs offer property rights, as they do not necessarily confer adequate property rights on the buyer.

However, these problems will be resolved in the next few years, and only when the speculation has ceased will we see if the NFTs have any residual value. And hey, not all deeply technical crypto property registries get their own sketch of SNL shortly after they burst into the mainstream, do they?

Daniel cooper

Mark Zuckerberg didn’t invent the term, but by renaming Facebook “Meta,” he helped start a wave of interest in the metaverse. While it was originally a dystopian vision of cyberspace via Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, the metaverse now represents the next big online gold rush. You can think of it as the logical step forward from the mobile internet, a world where our online experiences can easily pass between various devices. And eventually, it could be something we interact with through AR and VR glasses.

To be clear, we still don’t have an exact idea of ​​what the metaverse will be. Meta’s name change could easily be seen as a way for Zuckerberg to avoid his responsibilities as the leader of a fundamentally bankrupt social media company. But other companies have been exploring this idea for years: Microsoft’s HoloLens has proven surprisingly useful for frontline and business workers, and it’s also central to Mesh, the company’s ambitious virtual meeting solution. The Borg-like Google Glass was widely ridiculed, but its failure hasn’t stopped Google from thinking about its role in the metaverse either.

Maybe it takes a spectacular new device, like Apple’s legendary AR glasses, to bring the metaverse into focus. Or maybe it goes the way of wearables, a category of devices that is useful for some people, but not necessarily essential for everyone. Either way, it is something that will always be tied to 2021.

Devindra Hardawar

Home fitness technology is here to stay

As the pandemic kept many of us in and out of gyms, companies like Peloton, Apple, Tonal, and even Amazon were able to lead us to new habits and fitness equipment.

Apple Fitness Plus

Apple

Meanwhile, major fitness studios and gyms like Equinox, Soulcycle, OrangeTheory, and F45 have modulated (though some have built from scratch) their online services. Many companies expanded repeatable class options or added live lessons, leaderboards, and more in an attempt to keep members in shape and maintain membership dues.

COVID-19 offered an opportunity to change our training habits and reduce gym costs. Why pay $ 50 for a high intensity interval training gym membership when I can track myself in Apple’s Fitness Plus classes, SharePlay with my friends, and jump in my own shower, all for just $ 10 a month?

Of course, the comparison is not oranges to oranges and despite the cheering of Peloton trainers and corrections from gym trainers via live video broadcasts, it is very difficult to get the degree of attention that you get. with in-person training. That’s probably one of the reasons why home exercise injuries have never been higher. The Wall Street Journal reported that emergency room visits after home workouts increased by more than 48% from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020, according to a Medicare Advantage survey.

However, just as traditional gyms did when the pandemic first struck, these companies have to figure out how to retain their customers.

A woman using the Tonal wall training system, performing a pulldown.

Tonal

Tonal is a ‘Peloton for Weight Training’ product that Engadget tested in 2018. When our regular bench press machines and squat racks were locked inside gyms for the past year and a half, Tonal saw demand for their system. resistance training skyrocket. Sales grew more than eight times year over year. In an attempt to retain these new customers, the company recently introduced live classes for Tonal owners, with direct feedback from coaches and classes, reportedly calibrated for each user.

Meanwhile, Peloton, arguably the most well-known home fitness company, faces more competition (and litigation with) rivals and a tougher business outlook. After a rough earnings report in November, the company said it did not expect to be profitable again until 2023. Worse, his Bicycle was involved in the death of an important character in the Sex and the city restart, And so. But the company has plans (and cheeky responses). It’s built into many corporate fitness plans, released its first workout set, announced a strength-training fitness camera, and finally added a pause button.

The challenge will be preventing many of us from going back to our old gyms, bike rides, or our old, less healthy habits when things finally get back to normal.

Mat smith