tech trends

Many futurists and social science gurus say that 2020 will be a watershed year for consumer products. Even if they’re predictions are off, the near future holds all sorts of exciting trends that will affect the lives of everyone. So, whether you are a trend-setter or not, get ready for the newest, hottest and most amazing products and services you’re ever seen. Here’s a quick rundown:

Autonomous Vehicles

One of the most important science trends of the past decade is finally “turning the corner” in terms of practicality. Heavily resisted by many powerful forces in the transportation industry as recently as 2010, autonomous vehicles are now in use in about a dozen major U.S. cities as of late 2019. By next year, experts predict, you’ll see driverless cars and buses everywhere. A few car manufacturers, notably Tesla, currently offer semi-autonomous driving features as an option on new vehicles. While there have been legal and logistical problems with the technology, the eventual rollout of “auto-drive” features in all cars is inevitable.

Interactive Tax Software

Computer software enhances with artificial intelligence (AI) and backed up with live CPAs and other tax experts is what new “interactive tax solutions” are all about. Forget having to travel, documents in hand, to a local tax prep office. Simply transmit your forms via a secure server to your online interactive tax software (ITS) assistant. If there’s a problem or if you have a question, a live CPA or tax accountant is just a click away. They’ll take a look at your documents and help you continue processing the tax return.

For anyone who decides to sell an insurance policy to a life settlement company, for example, the software can turn an otherwise complex calculation into a simple task. The software not only helps you prepare your state and federal returns but also transmits the data to the IRS and your state revenue office. You can choose to pay fees upfront or have them deducted from a refund check.

Lifetime Ownership Products

The “lifetime ownership” trend is more of a philosophy than a product. The concept is based on the opposite of “planned obsolescence.” Consumers who follow the trend shop for products that are built to last for at least a decade, preferably longer. These dedicated buyers are willing to spend more in order to get more. That means buying sturdy backpacks, clothing and personal care items that are solid and built to last.

High-Tech Backpacks

So, you think you know about backpacks? Check out the new generation of smart packs that include everything from temperature-controlled compartments, shock-absorbent walls, solar cells for power generation, voice-activated locks and more. The new-age backpacks have been slowly evolving for about 20 years, beginning with the temperature-controlled features and top-mounted solar panels. The newest versions aren’t cheap, costing up to $1,000 for premium models, but can solve just about any common camping or hiking problem that comes up. They don’t have wings yet and aren’t able to defy gravity, but they are flying off retail shelves everywhere they’re sold.