7 emerging areas of technology to watch in 2023

Innovations that industry experts and future casters have pegged as “ones to watch” this year.

By Jeff Wise — January 19, 2023

If the current decade has a theme, it’s that we should expect the unexpected. From the pandemic and ground wars on the geopolitical front to crypto-fraud and AI that can imitate human creativity in the tech world, the most impactful developments have seemingly caught us off-guard. 

A few technology standouts have begun to generate buzz in just the earliest days of the year. It’s safe to say that they’ll continue to draw our curiosity (and skepticism?) in the months to come. Here’s what we’re keeping our radar trained on:

Illustrations by Rose Wong

Generative AI changes creative work

No realm of tech seemed to be accelerating faster last year than generative AI, a form of machine learning that trains on vast databases and is able to summon original creations from brief user-generated prompts. First came DALL-E, which could produce remarkable images of almost anything, then ChatGPT, with its stunningly adept writing. Suddenly, areas of endeavor that had seemed like they would forever remain uniquely human were revealed to be actually quite automatable.

These advances unleashed a flood of user enthusiasm and investment dollars; but also their fair share of outrage and debate. In January, it was reported that Microsoft was in talks to invest $10 billion in OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. Soon after came news that tech news site CNET had already started using AI to write some of its articles. With the technology also being used to write software and provide therapy, the big question going forward is: what creative field won’t AI upend?

Improving resilience in the wake of cyber attacks

With the world on the cusp of economic slowdown, experts see a danger of intensified cyber attacks. “The 2009 recession saw surges in malware and online fraud,” points out Alex Holland, senior malware analyst at HP, who predicts that in 2023 a weak economy could yield a similar dynamic. “The rise of the cybercrime gig economy, where the shift to platform-based business models has made cybercrime easier, cheaper and more profitable.”

“Session hijacking – where an attacker will commandeer a remote access session to access sensitive data and systems – will grow in popularity in 2023,” predicts Dr. Ian Pratt, global head of security for Personal Systems at HP. “By targeting users with elevated rights to data and systems these attacks are more potent, harder to detect, and more difficult to remove.”

Traditional security measures have focused on detecting malware to thwart attackers from gaining access to critical systems. Now the trend is for increased resiliency, meaning the ability to respond to hackers who’ve managed to exploit a vulnerability. “Threat containment technology like HP Sure Click Enterprise ensures that if a user opens a link or attachment and something nasty comes through, the malware can’t infect anything,” Holland says. This kind of resiliency not only helps prevent damage but also saves money and reduces downtime.

Sustainable technology evolves

Is consumer technology compatible with a sustainable economy? This year’s amazing must-have devices mean that last year’s are headed for the scrapheap. It’s an endless churn of resource extraction and disposal.

Andrew Bolwell, chief disrupter at HP & head of HP Tech Ventures, says it doesn’t have to be that way. Throughout tech, companies are exploring ways to reduce their environmental impact through recycling, reuse, and repair, and overall circularity. For its part, HP is exploring advanced materials that will consume fewer resources and generate less long-term waste. This year, it introduced the HP 14-inch Eco Edition laptop, one-quarter of which consists of recycled plastic. “We’re always looking at how we can create a more sustainable future, like using molded fiber-based packaging instead of plastic packaging, and apply that across our supply chain,” he says. One company with a unique solution is California-based Cruz Foam, which uses natural materials to create the only foam packing material that is fully compostable. 

Another way technology can aid sustainability is by turning outdated equipment into a valuable resource. Molg, a startup that is using robots and proprietary software to enable circular manufacturing, which optimizes the design and production of hardware so that devices can be recycled and components reused. This approach, says Bolwell, “is great for the environment, great for the industry, and great for people who otherwise couldn't afford brand-new high-performing electronics.”

Rundles for every type of consumer

What the heck is a “rundle,” you ask? The term was coined by NYU professor and podcaster Scott Galloway to describe the way companies combine the bundling of goods and services with recurring-revenue subscription plans. One prominent example is Amazon Prime, which in return for an annual fee offers customers free shipping, a TV and movie streaming service, and a variety of deals and discounts. Another is retailer Restoration Hardware’s $100-per-year membership program that provides users special discounts, early access to sales and concierge services. The combo is stickier than any single transaction, so while the customer gets a good deal, the company gets a reliable source of income. HP has long taken advantage of this dynamic with its HP Instant Ink program, which bundles the supply of ink and paper into a seamless monthly subscription plan. Now it’s taking the idea into the commercial services business with its new Workforce Services & Solutions unit, which will combine IT services with software and security for enterprises. 

Expect to see more brands adopt subscription “rundles,” both consumer-facing and B2B, as it reduces marketing costs and boosts average order value.

Gaming gets more immersive

Technology like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are amazing at sucking you into a computer game, but they also require you to totally isolate yourself from the real world. Now a new wave of immersive gaming technologies have appeared that help merge your real-life environment with your virtual experience. The lighting company Twinkly makes blocks, ribbons, and curtains of LED lights that work with the HP OMEN gaming hub to turn your gameroom into a luminous extension of your virtual environment, brightening when you step from a cave, for example, or shimmering red when you get blown up. Whirlwind FX makes devices that not only beam different colors but also blow wind and generate heat to make games truly multi-sensory. 

Personalized healthcare for patients

Computer technology is adapted to tracking and managing complex systems—and that, in a sense, is exactly what the human body is. That’s why wearable sensors, and the real-time information they can collect, are having a big impact on medicine. “As they get smaller and more powerful, and can feed data into cloud medical applications and medical teams in real time, this kind of technology is going to become ever more important to everyday health, especially for the elderly,” says Jeff Glueck, CEO of Salvo Health, an app-based virtual clinic for those suffering from gut health issues.

Another way technology can finetune treatment to the specific needs of each patient is through 3D printing of prosthetics, orthotics, casts, splints and dental aligner molds. Already the market for personalized medical solutions is some $10 billion, and it’s only going to grow. “This is just the beginning,” Savi Baveja, chief strategy & incubation officer at HP, wrote in an op-ed. “The work happening today is truly transformative.”

Ambient computing everywhere

A sign that a new technology is so well-integrated into our lives is that you don’t even notice it anymore. In 2023, we’ll continue to see computer power blend into the environment around us.

In so-called “ambient computing,” the user doesn’t even know that any digital processing is going on, it’s just embedded throughout the environment. Familiar examples include Google’s Nest thermometers, which can detect when a resident is at home and adjust the temperature accordingly, and Amazon retail stores, which can detect what item a customer has taken from a shelf. Going forward, expect to see this technology in an ever greater range of environments. AiFi, a California company founded in 2016, offers retailers Amazon-like automated checkout technology that can be dropped into any existing store or pop-up retail environment.

“Instead of having all these gadgets and devices around us that we have to actively turn on and figure out how to use, it all just seamlessly works together in the background,” says Bolwell. “And as users, we can all just focus on enjoying the experience.”


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