On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast:
With a new year anything is possible. Anything can make history, including cool new technology. We sat down with Talking Tech podcast hosts Mike Snider and Brett Molina to learn about what cool, futuristic tech is in store in 2022. Including a sneak peak at what is coming to CES 2022 January 5-8th.
Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Shannon Rae Gre…: Hey there. I’m Shannon Rae Green, and this is Five Things. It’s Sunday, January 2nd, 2022. Happy new year. These Sunday episodes are special. We’re focusing on just one topic instead of five to do a deeper dive.
I don’t know about you, but I feel when the calendar flips over to a new year, that I sort of have to marvel about the idea that anything could happen, anything could make history. And one of the most fun ways to think about what the future will be like are to think about what tech products might be on the horizon for us. That always makes me feel like I’m somehow living in the future. So I’ve asked Talking Tech Podcast hosts Brett Molina and Mike Snider to chat with me about what cool futuristic tech is in store for us this year.
Brett, Mike, thanks so much for joining me again.
Brett Molina: Thank you.
Mike Snider: Thanks for having us, Shannon. Happy end of 2021.
Shannon Rae Gre…: Yeah, I’m happy about 2021 ending, I have to say. So what tech are you both most excited about this year?
Mike Snider: Well, I’m really interested in something that we already have, but can be a lot better. And that is broadband service at home. I think in the coming year, 2022, we’re going to see more ways to get better broadband to more people. The infrastructure bill that was passed includes funding for broadband and expands it to rural areas. I know when I visit my parents outside of Topeka, Kansas, I feel like I’m back in the dial-up age with the speed they get at their home, and I just can’t wait for them to get better internet so they can stream more shows and things like that.
But beyond just the funding to expand current networks, we have a lot of new ways that should evolve in the coming year to get better broadband at home. For instance, Elon Musk’s Starlink service is a satellite-delivered internet service and it’s beginning to be deployed next year. They’re going to be testing putting satellites orbiting the Earth, and eventually they’ll have a network of over 4,000 satellites delivering internet via satellite, all over the world. That’s their vision. This is a vision that’s from 40, 50 years ago. I think I remember Isaac Asimov writing about this idea of communications basically blanket over the US and the whole world delivering internet. This would be a lot easier than digging cables in your streets and things like that to get fiber to your home.
Similarly, Amazon has a project to do its own satellite network, which is going to have more than 3000 satellites around the globe. It’s supposed to try to launch two satellites by the end of next year. So we’re going to see an evolution of broadband technology.
Closer to Earth, so to speak, T-Mobile and Verizon are already rolling out what’s called fixed wireless internet. They use cellular technology. Verizon uses only 5G. The new 5G phones are delivering faster connections if you have that where you live. And T-Mobile is using current 4G LTE and 5G networks to deliver this to the home. So basically, it’s like there’s a big cell phone in your home that can get you sometimes up to a gigabyte per second data downloads. They’ll be expanding that during 2022.
Right now, T-Mobile can deliver speeds in excess of a 100 megabits per second. It reaches about 30 million homes in over 600 cities around the country. Meanwhile, Verizon reaches about 15 million homes in about 65 cities. These numbers are going to expand over 2022 and perhaps give you an option for better broadband when right now you may not have one. You may just have one provider and it gives you 10 megabits per second and you pay what I pay for gigabit service here in the Washington DC area.
So I’m really excited about more people being able to get online because there’s a lot of stuff online work related because a lot of us aren’t going into the office. We’re doing a lot more remote, we’re doing a lot of entertainment remote, so I think that’s going to be an advantage for a lot of people around the country.
Shannon Rae Gre…: All that’s ringing through my head after you’ve said that, Mike, is bigger, better, faster, stronger, which sounds like-
Mike Snider: A song. There’s a song there somewhere, right?
Shannon Rae Gre…: It sounds like a cell phone ad and it is most definitely a Kanye West lyric. So I hope that all of that comes to pass. I’m pumped about it.
Brett, what’s your thing that you’re most looking forward to in the world of tech this year?
Brett Molina: Well, I always gravitate toward video games, so I’m looking forward, obviously, to not only the slate of new video games that are coming out next year, but the hope that people will actually get to play more of the newer consoles because since they launched, I think in November, 2020, they have been near impossible to get. It’s to the point where people are following all these different Twitter feeds and websites just to like find out when a new shipment is available. So I hope that there is some kind of easing of limitations on being able to get one of these new consoles.
But then once you get them, there are so many new games that are coming out next year that look really exciting. One that jumps out to me is one called Starfield, which is supposed to be this huge role playing game that takes place in space. It sounds phenomenal. It sounds like a lot of fun. For those fans who grew up in Nintendo, we might get a new The Legend of Zelda game two in 2022. So there’s a lot of that stuff to look forward to. So yeah, there’s a lot of games I’m excited about, but I’m just happy and hopeful that people will actually get to try out the new consoles, finally, since they’ve been so difficult to get.
Shannon Rae Gre…: I think I will be gaming more this year. I have an Oculus Rift and one of my best friends from childhood also just got one. She said that means we should be able to play games even though she is in California and I’m here on the East Coast. So hopefully we do that at some point because of the fact that I’m still not planning to get on planes anytime soon. That’s cool, that’s exciting for entertainment in a virtual way.
Speaking of virtual, in the pre-pandemic times, when it became January, in the tech world we’d often talk about CES. Tell me about the consumer electronic show, what you know about it, how USA Today is planning to cover it and if there’s anything exciting that you’re looking forward to learning more about at this event.
Mike Snider: Well, as we’re talking about this, things are changing involving CES 2022, which is going to be held in Las Vegas, January 5th through ninth. The plan was to have a hybrid event with some in-person meetings and exhibitions and keynotes and sessions and things like that, and some delivered virtually online. Last year, the entire event was delivered online. It continued and it was covered. I mean, we covered it remotely. This year, USA Today, at least in the case of Brett and myself, will be covering it remotely. We are not going to Las Vegas. Some of our columnists may be there. As we’re talking, yesterday I wrote a story about how T-Mobile with their CEO is going to give a keynote speech. They’ve bowed out of CES, keynote wise, and will not go in person. So by the time someone listens to this, there may be other folks that may not be going in person.
Several media outlets are not covering this in person and many people we know that were going to go for other outlets have canceled going in person. That’s, to be said, I think CES will be held, but it may be more hybrid leaning towards virtual than was expected. As of right now, they have more than 2000 exhibitors planned to come. I think Brett and I will be covering this remotely as we did in the past and watch some of it, watch it online and report on things. Not as fun as seeing everybody in person and seeing and touching gadgets and things like that, but it still will give us a look into what’s going to be coming in the rest of 2022 and 2023.
To touch on a few things that we’ll see, I think we’re going to see more and more medical and health technology. As we continue to live through the COVID world, we’re going to doctors less and less, unless we have something very acute that needs to be treated. So telemedicine, ways that doctors can, and healthcare people can, monitor you without you having to be in the office, all that stuff is going to be big.
A couple standout things I would’ve loved to see in person but we’ll watch online, GM is going to introduce its new Chevy Silverado electric pickup. That’s supposed to happen on CEO, Mary Barra, is supposed to give a keynote. I assume she’ll go in person. That’s the plan at the moment. And then also a name that usually doesn’t stand out in getting you excited about CES, John Deere will be there. And evidently, they’re going to have an autonomous tractor. Autonomy, self-driving vehicles, has been a thing at CES from many years and I’ve ridden in self-driving cars around the interstate around Las Vegas in the past. I’m not sure how much I really care about an autonomous world where we have a bunch of streets of cars filled with non-drivers, but it’s still kind of interesting to learn about the technology.
Brett Molina: Yeah, it feels like last year the big themes were around stuff like getting more done around your house because you’re there pretty much all the time because of the pandemic. And also, as Mike mentioned, a lot more medical and health tech. I think we’re going to see a lot more, too, like we did last year, tech related to the pandemic. So I think we might see more advances with things like masks, whether we see more smart masks or things of that nature. We also might see a lot more tech related to getting rid of germs and keeping things clean around our house or our office, or just personally. I think that’s another area that could pop up. We’re also still going to get the kind of gee whiz, super cool tech that you can’t buy yet but this is an idea of what it’ll look like. For example, LG revealed this new media chair, which is basically a recliner that has a 55 inch TV attached to it. You can actually adjust the screen from horizontal to vertical with a button on the armrest. It’s going to be a lot of that stuff where it’s the practical, real world stuff that we need, like health, medicine, things like that, but then also your house could look like the Jetsons’ with this stuff. So I think it’s going to be that kind of usual combo of both.
Shannon Rae Gre…: In the gee whiz column, I’m always thinking about flying cars. I feel like they talk about those sometimes at CES. Are there any flying cars updates that you are expecting?
Brett Molina: Nothing new that we’ve heard of, but we always hear those prototypes about the aerial taxis or those kind of prototype vehicles coming down the road. But sadly, for those of us that might live in high-traffic areas, no flying cars in our immediate future.
Shannon Rae Gre…: I love that you used the expression “coming down the road,” when clearly you mean “barreling through the sky.”
Brett Molina: This is true.
Shannon Rae Gre…: What tech are you not excited about this year? Things that you at least are hoping to see improve this year?
Brett Molina: I’ve got to be honest, I’m not excited about the Metaverse at all. It’s the buzzword, I feel, we’ve heard so much in 2021. There are a couple reasons. Frankly, I don’t see what’s different about the Metaverse that we haven’t seen in virtual reality and in games, and in everything else. It just feels like that same stuff and they’re trying to package it into this funny word that everyone can jump on.
The other reason, too, is I get the concept of the Metaverse, but I also have been cooped up in my house as well as a lot of us for the last year or two, and the last thing I want is have more activities that keep me separated from human beings. Again, we’re all human and we like to be around other people. Doing that virtually, I think, works in some situations but I think this idea that has been thrust upon about us living in this Metaverse just seems like something that I have zero interest in when I have not really been around other people for this long.
Then another point, and this is something I’ve heard a bit from other people as well, is that all this Metaverse talk seems great for the companies that are investing it. But again, what’s the benefit for me? What’s the benefit for the regular person? I haven’t seen anything new and different with this Metaverse talk that has me excited. So again, it’s a fun word and a fun buzzword, but there’s nothing about it that interests me it all right now.
Shannon Rae Gre…: I have to tell the folks listening right now that I am nodding my head so strongly, which is something that they wouldn’t know. Yeah, because I do think that we have really hit the limits of how far we can go without being able to be in person easily. So I do think the Metaverse is not in-person, by definition. I think that you make so many salient points on why maybe companies are interested in it, but who are the real people who are as excited, beyond Mark Zuckerberg?
Mike, what are you thinking about when it comes to this tech?
Brett Molina: Well, this is what I’m not as excited about also, in addition to the autonomous stuff, which I like the idea of seeing a tractor drive around, but I really don’t know that I want to be crossing the street, if I get to leave the house, crossing the street with a bunch of self-driving cars supposedly stopping at the stoplight or the stop sign.
But at someone who writes about the Metaverse a lot, Brett and I have been writing about what people consider the Metaverse for 20 years. It’s basically online gathering through better graphics and better communication skills. And this is going to continue to evolve whether you call it the Metaverse or not. Obviously, there’s a lot of companies that are pushing this. You can find stories about the companies and investing, and also about the development of where we are in the Metaverse right now on tech.USAtoday.com.
I did a big story back in April because we’d all been at home for almost a year at that point and we were doing a lot of stuff virtually. A lot of experts say that kind of kickstarted us down the road faster than the development of what people are thinking of as the Metaverse. It sped up the evolution of the technology because you needed the technology. I mean, Zoom probably did five years of advances in six months because people were using Zoom. All of a sudden there’s an influx of money and there’s in influx of investment, and they needed make the product better. Microsoft has been working on this for years, too. They put fans in seats at NBA games because you couldn’t put real ones in. They were virtual ones when we watched the NBA at home, when we were lucky enough to get sports back on TV for something to do other than thinking about that we couldn’t go outside. They brought virtual reality and augmented reality to sports broadcast.
Those companies, Meta, formally known as Facebook, they’re all developing things that are going to advance over 2022. The Metaverse is, if you don’t want to think of it as this certain endpoint, which I would not, it’s something that’s been developing for years between you have better broadband and wireless broadband to keep you connected. You could deliver a more high-fidelity experience, whether it’s people with avatars like they would be at a board meeting or it’s a meeting of your team at work, this is happening now. But the hype of it is crazy. I’m not really excited about it. Thankfully, they reused the stories we’ve written about Metaverse and just put new headlines on them and put a new [inaudible 00:14:34], we don’t want to write about the Metaverse every day.
There may be a development coming up in 2022. There’s some rumors that Apple may have an augmented reality, virtual reality headset, which might serve as a OnRamp for some people that are really invested in the Apple ecosystem. But I will say, in the end, I don’t really want to be sitting around with a headset on trying to do things. So I think in the end, this is going to have to be something where, kind of like where we are here now, using video. If you don’t want to have real faces, you could have a real time artificial intelligence create my avatar and move the way I’m moving, or whatever. I see all this coming, but if you’re going to be at work in the Metaverse, when it’s time to play, I don’t know how much I want to be in the Metaverse.
Shannon Rae Gre…: Totally. Well, is there anything I haven’t asked you tech gurus that I should in talking about tech with the new year?
Mike Snider: I think another interesting angle to think about, as always, as we should is privacy. One thing to look out for in the new year, it’s an interesting feature coming from Apple. It’s this option to add your driver’s license or your state ID to your phone. It’s also part of this push to add a lot of different things to your phone, like you can add your hotel keys or your car keys, or if you have a smart home, your house keys. I think it really leans into privacy and security and how trusting your phone with this much information about you. And then specifically with something like a driver’s license, legally, how does that all work? Practically, they talk about using it for the airport, for example, and you can check in through TSA much more quickly, but beyond that, what kind of implications are there having that kind of information on your phone?
Shannon Rae Gre…: Yeah.
Brett Molina: There’s obviously a possible convenience factor. I mean, every time I go to a concert or a movie or whatever, I’m pulling out my phone, showing them my COVID scan and then I show them my ticket or whatever. It’s easier than going through my wallet, but I think there will be, if Congress can actually do anything, I’m not sure, but I’m sure there will be discussions about privacy. And there’ll be also discussions about technology in hearings in 2022, in whether there will be any legislation brought up to be voted on. I’m not sure.
Shannon Rae Gre…: Yeah. I think it’s all about habits and if people are choosing convenience over some really scary implications that could befall them. I just want to say thank you so much for being on the show and getting me excited about out the year that is to come. Brett and Mike, how can people find your work?
Brett Molina: Well, all of our stuff can be found on tech.USAtoday.com. You can find stories we’ve written, you can search our names or you could just search for, say you want to read about the Metaverse, you just search for the Metaverse. Also, I usually put my stories out on Twitter, and on Twitter I am @MikeSnider, S-N-I-D-E-R. Brett has been handling Talking Tech mainly the last few months. You can listen to Talking Tech and find the files on tech.USAtoday.com, or you can read them. We have some great AI software that just takes his broadcast and puts them into text for you if you don’t want to listen to them.
Mike Snider: And you can find me on Twitter too. I’m @brettmolina23.
Shannon Rae Gre…: And there’s a link too at the Talking Tech Podcast in our show description today. Mike, Brett, thank you so much.
Brett Molina: Happy new your, Shannon. Thanks for having us.
Mike Snider: Thank you.
Shannon Rae Gre…: If you liked this episode of Five Things, please write us a review on Apple Podcasts. You can also tweet us at USA Today, and you can tweet me. I’m @ShannonRaeGreen. That’s R-A-E. Let’s talk about the future and the cool products we just learned about and complain about the same complaints that the wonderful Brett and Mike have. I want to say thanks to Alexis Davies for her help editing this episode. Taylor Wilson will be back tomorrow morning with Five Things You Need to Know for Monday. Thanks so much for listening. I’m Shannon Rae Green. I’ll see you next time.