The year 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s famous utterance, “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”
In the year 2019, about half the teenage population will attempt to make that prophecy come true using live streaming and online broadcasting. That’s what recent polling tells us, and we at VC Daily are betting that whoever compiled that data is right.
Generation Z–basically everyone born after 1990–has grown up immersed in technology and digital communication like no other. They inhabit a world of on-demand, subscription-based, user-created, and always accessible commerce and entertainment that has empowered them to think of every online encounter as a tailor-made, personal, and interactive experience. They’re not passive viewers or consumers, they’re critics, creators, and influencers. And in 2019 they’re after one thing above all else–online fame.
That’s the headline from our annual look at what to expect in digital communications for the year ahead. As we did last year, we’ve recruited the help of Scott Wharton, vice president and general manager of video collaboration at Logitech, to give us some technology predictions for 2019 from an industry insider’s perspective.
Digital Communications Technology Predictions for 2019
All the indicators point to video conferencing continuing its growth across the fields of business, healthcare, education, entertainment, and beyond in 2019–but we’re going to get more specific than that. Below you’ll find our technology predictions for which elements of video conferencing and digital communication will dominate 2019:
- Vlogging is set to explode
- Virtual reality is going to disappoint
- AI will dominate office communications
- Pressure will build to offer remote work
- 5G apps will have to wait
- Laptop cinema will arrive
- Wireless will rule the headsets
Let’s start with those starry-eyed Gen Zers.
1. Vlogging Is Set to Explode
Vlogging, or live streaming, has been with us for years now, but we’ve never before seen the kind of explosion in user-created content we’re going to get in 2019. Research by travel company First Choice found that more than 50% of survey respondents under the age of 17 want to be a professional vlogger or YouTuber. And since it’s possible to get paid to live stream, it is–perhaps surprisingly to anyone below the age of 17–a viable profession. User-created content generates millions of dollars a month in revenue, and the leading broadcasters, such as YouTube and Facebook Live, are beginning to offer greater financial rewards as they fight for the most popular online talents.
With the desire to broadcast being met by a desire to profit from the broadcasts, 2019 could become the year your favorite entertainment star is a perfectly ordinary teenager vlogging from their bedroom.
2. Virtual Reality Is Going to Disappoint
Virtual reality has promised much these past few years, but it has yet to deliver on its potential. As Scott Wharton puts it, “The user experience continues to lag behind the hype.” The user-related problems are chiefly threefold:
- The technology still requires restrictive goggles
- The human face and form are poorly rendered in live situations
- The sense of touch is grossly underserved, detracting from the immersive feel
Sadly, these problems are not likely to be fully fixed by greater broadband speeds and streamlined data packaging. Instead, we’re left waiting on a breakthrough of substance rather than style. Virtual reality video calling is gradually becoming feasible, but there’s no reason to think 2019 is going to be the year we all disappear into a computer-generated world of immersive communication.
3. AI Will Dominate Office Communications
Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, is proving to be very practical. Over the past 18 months or so, tech companies have delivered a number of fully functional apps and devices to make our workplace meetings smarter. We’ve seen the introduction of automated smart video conferencing assistants, cameras that can crop, focus, and zoom without human intervention, and a host of virtual assistants that integrate our workflows with our communication.
It seems like only a matter of time before AI assistants are scheduling video calling meetings for us before we even realize we need them.
4. Pressure Will Build to Offer Remote Work
Telecommuting, or working remotely using digital technologies such as video conferencing, is in demand. The chief reason for its popularity? Getting rid of the daily commute. Research suggests that almost two-thirds of people want to work from home, that half feel their daily commute is getting worse, and that 70% feel their employers should take the lead in solving the problem.
“People are going to start waging war on the traditional commute.”
Since the necessary technology is available and affordable–webcams, video calling platforms, workplace collaboration software–and there’s strong evidence that telecommuting benefits employers and employees, we could be in for a boom in telecommuting in 2019.
“People are going to start waging war on the traditional commute,” Wharton told VC Daily. “Employers who support flexible work settings and hours will benefit from increased productivity, improved employee morale, higher talent retention rates and more.”
5. 5G Apps Will Have to Wait
Our fifth technology prediction for 2019 is that the year ahead is likely to see the start of the rollout of 5G digital networks across the U.S. Unfortunately, as is often the case with emerging technologies, it will probably go largely unnoticed. That’s because the software and apps aren’t currently around to capitalize on this newfound bandwidth and reliability (5G will be roughly 20 times faster than current 4G mobile networks).
Trust us, 5G will be well worth waiting for, as it’ll radically increase the quality and stability of your video calls. But wait you’ll have to, as it’s unlikely any significant consumer technologies will be around to take advantage of it this year.
6. Laptop Cinema Will Arrive
The movie Searching became something of a darling at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. What got our attention about the feature was that it was presented almost exclusively through the viewpoint of social media, streaming, and video calling. It’s a reflection of the way video and internet communication have come to dominate our social and working lives.
Webcams put feature-length storytelling within reach of anyone with imagination and vision.
In 2019, we’re likely to see that trend evolve. With HD and even 4K webcams now available at consumer prices, we’re likely to see entire movies filmed on webcams and even phones. This so-called “laptop cinema” gives aspiring filmmakers access to near-professional grade photography and editing equipment, putting them on a level playing field with established creators. Just as vlogging and live streaming have opened broadcasting up to the average person, so, too, will webcams put feature-length storytelling within reach of anyone with imagination and vision.
As Wharton put it, “Web cameras and other digital technologies will continue to revolutionize the way TV and film is made by reducing the costs of production and enabling more people to successfully create professional content.”
7. Wireless Will Rule the Headsets
A funny thing happened to us recently when we decided to put together a list of the best wireless headsets for video conferencing–we found we had too many models to choose from. Advances in battery life and performance across a wireless connection have resulted in a golden age of headset freedom. You can expect that trend to continue in 2019. The advantages of freedom of movement and ease of control are obvious, so the race will be on to produce more truly wireless devices to appease the demands of gamers, video callers, and live streamers.