The technology that will invade our lives in 2021

One domestic technology problem that the pandemic highlighted was our slow and unreliable internet connection. Last year, as people took shelter to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the average internet speed around the world dropped, in part because broadband providers were crushed by heavy traffic.

Fortunately, Wi-Fi technology continues to improve. This year, we will see a wave of new internet routers that include Wi-Fi 6, a new network standard. Unlike the wireless updates of the past, Wi-Fi 6 will focus not on speed but on efficiency, sharing the bandwidth between a large number of devices.

Here’s what it means: Let’s say your family has cell phones, multiple computers, and a video game console. If all of them are in use and consume large amounts of data – to stream video, for example – Wi-Fi 6 is more efficient at providing bandwidth to all devices at the same time rather than letting one device take the lion’s share.

Efficiency is especially important because so much of our things connect to the internet, from clocks to televisions to bathroom scales and thermostats. On average, the number of Internet-connected devices each person owns is expected to increase to about four by 2023, up from two in 2018, according to a Cisco investigation.

Last year was a turning point for mobile payments. For security reasons, even those who only accepted cash, such as merchants at farmers markets and food stalls, started accepting mobile payments.

Overall, 67 percent of US retailers accept contactless payments, a 40 percent increase from 2019, according to a Forrester poll. Among those surveyed, 19 percent said they made a digital payment at a store for the first time last May.

Contactless technology doesn’t end with mobile wallets. The so-called Ultra Broadband, a relatively new radio technology, could also have its moment this year. This technology, which uses radio waves to detect objects with extreme precision, has not been used much since its debut on cell phones almost two years ago. But the need for contactless experiences could change that, Creative Strategies’ Milanesi said.

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