6. Smart speakers teaching you another language
The benefits of speaking more than one language — which include preventing dementia, better decision-making skills, building new multi-tasking skills, and, of course, a better CV — are undisputable.
Increasingly more people in the United States speak at least two languages, and the number keeps growing. Phone apps to help you learn a foreign language are booming, and smart home devices are looking into taking a share of that market. Google, for example, plans to make its Assistant converse in French and German, in addition to English.
7. Robots as pet sitters
Speaking of smart technology, robots can now take care not only of what people need, but of what their pets need as well. Robotic pet sitters have been in development since 2017. Several companies have made what technically is a device controlled by an app that plays with your cat or dog in order to keep it active and happy when you’re not home, but have yet to mass-produce it. At least two companies with pet-sitter products ranging from $79 to $189 now take pre-orders.
8. Robots folding your laundry
Speaking of robots, they can also fold your pile of laundry in up to four minutes — if you have an extra $980. The first shipments of laundry folding robots are due to go out in 2019, starting with the U.S. market. The catch is that you’ll have to still “feed” the machine the clothes that are to be folded, but it’ll still take you less time than if you had to do it yourself. The machine can fold blouses and pants ranging in size from T5 through an adult XXL.
9. Virtual reality gyms
With nearly 40% of adults in the United States being obese, and a fitness industry worth more than $24 billion in the United States alone, it’s no surprise that new ways to encourage exercise are being developed.
Combining the craze over getting in shape with the latest craze over virtual reality (VR) sets — a separate market where investment is growing exponentially — only seems natural. Research by professional services firm EY has shown that 25% of women and 18% of men would use VR to help them exercise.
10. Social isolation
This trend is a dangerous one. Technology is becoming more and more sophisticated in making people’s lives easier, but it’s not helping them make friends or socialize. In fact, social isolation is growing. Nearly half of Americans say they often feel lonely, and those between 18 and 22 are described as the loneliest generation, according to a recent study by Cigna, a global health service company.
According to a national survey conducted by AARP, people between 45 and 49 years old report higher levels of loneliness and social isolation than those 70 or older. Social isolation has been linked to higher risk of premature death and heart disease.