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Top Emerging Tech to Watch in 2021

Top Emerging Tech to Watch in 2021

Following a turbulent 2020, organisations should re-visit their outlook on which emerging tech innovations will be key for future opportunities. Tech research firm, Lux Research, has published its latest annual report on the top tech innovations that will have the biggest impact over the next decade, based on expert insight and proprietary data science tools.

12 key overall technologies are identified in the new report, which are expected to reshape the world. Additionally, this year's report ranks the top five technologies across five key industries: chemicals and materials, automotive, food and agriculture, electronics and IT, and energy.

The top three technologies highlighted in the report are:

  • Autonomous vehicles: Improvements in safety and efficiency are happening at all levels of vehicle automation, benefiting both consumers and commercial operations. Level 4 and 5 autonomous vehicles will transform mobility and logistics by removing the need for a driver behind the wheel of a vehicle.

  • Natural language processing: Powering devices like voice assistants, machine translation, and chatbots, natural language processing (NLP) patents have had a 44% CAGR over the past five years, now reaching more than 3,000 publications annually.

  • Plastic recycling: Concern about plastic waste is nothing new, but major consumer product companies have made commitments to increasing recycling rates and innovations that can convert waste into higher-value products. Over the past decade alone, 155 startups addressing plastic waste have been founded.

Ten of the 20 technologies from last year don't feature on this year's lists, demonstrating how 2020 has seen dynamic shifts in the innovation landscape. Notably, 5G networks, which claimed the top spot in last year's report, are absent from this year's list – as 5G rollout continues, they are still important but are now firmly established on everyone's radar.

Technologies from the report will also play a role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. "Technologies from our lists like digital biomarkers and AI-enabled sensors can help bring businesses back to work," explains Michael Holman, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and lead author of the report. "But for all the changes that the pandemic has brought, the key mega-trends shaping the future are still in force. Technologies that support these transitions, such as autonomous vehicles, alternative proteins, and green hydrogen, will maintain their momentum as a result."


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