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What’s trending in consumer tech for 2022?

Illustration of girl listening to music via headphones
Jessie Wong for WGSN
Jan 24, 2022 By WGSN Insider
Consumer Tech

CES returned earlier this month for another round of tech innovations and at WGSN Consumer Tech, we have much to be excited about, too. Read on to discover two trends –  sonic encounters and flying taxis – as part of our six-part series covering our top trends forecasted for 2022 and beyond.

Brands are considering new modes of listening to music for a truly immersive experience, such as incorporating personalisation and exploring wellness. This up-and-coming focus on sonic encounters will see applications in industries from music production to automotive. Speaking of cars, we’re edging closer to the day we see flying taxis in our skies. Startups and major companies alike are claiming their stake in the fast-growing autonomous urban air mobility market, responding to consumer desire for more personal and private forms of transportation. Read on to discover how these trends are translating in product design.

Sonic encounters

Sound is set to be the next area of focus for innovators. Brands are developing new modes to experience music across industry categories to meet growing consumer desire for sensorial experiences and personalised sound. In music production, look to Kanye West’s Donda Stem Player, which allows users to customise any song with audio engineering tools including four-channel lossless audio mixing, realtime loop and live samples. 

In the automotive industry, sound is becoming increasingly immersive, as seen in US-based Lucid Motors’ partnership with Dolby Laboratories, which has created the world’s first car to offer Dolby Atmos audio, a “captive sound chamber” designed to feel like a recording studio. HARMAN, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, has shifted gears to auto with its Personal Audio Headrest platform. The retractable headrest speaker wings allow each passenger to customise their volume and sound experience. 

The relationship between sound and wellness is also being explored, with hearables offering new opportunities for hyper-personalised sound that adapts according to users’ health needs.

Flying taxis

Ongoing urban traffic congestion and Covid-19 disruptions have contributed to the desire for more personal and private forms of transportation. 

The autonomous urban air mobility (UAM) market is set to be worth $1.5tn globally by 2040, according to Morgan Stanley Research. Another study by Frost & Sullivan sees air taxis beginning in 2022 in Dubai and expanding with an annual growth rate of 46% to reach more than 430,000 units in operation by 2040. 

A confluence of technologies are driving this trend, including autonomous vehicles such as drones and self-driving cars, more efficient batteries and advanced manufacturing techniques. At least 20 companies are active in the UAM market, including startups and major brands – Boeing, Airbus, General Motors, Daimler, Hyundai and Toyota are all developing working prototypes for air taxis. UAM is of much interest to civic and urban planners who, despite the potential for noise pollution, see it as a way to relieve congestion on the streets.

For more key trends, get access to our Top Trends 2022 report and exclusive webinar here.

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