As the new year approaches and the holiday shopping season is upon us, those who follow cutting-edge consumer technologies may wonder which gadgets will see the biggest growth next year. Rockbridge’s National Technology Readiness Survey has been tracking tech trends for over 20 years, and for the past few years, we have asked about ownership and intent to purchase emerging consumer technologies. We also have enough of a track record to be able to project, based on what consumers tell us about future plans, what growth rates will be for the coming year (see table).
Among many technologies tracked, we believe the fastest growing technology next year will be the 3D printer, a potentially transformative product that is moving beyond hobbyist status to solving the problem of creating physical objects that are needed in real-time. This technology has a relatively low ownership rate (10.3% in 2021) but many consumers plan to purchase one in the future.
The next group of fast-growing technologies center around the home, consisting of technology that allows consumers to remotely control and monitor access, security, the environment and functioning of appliances. In declining order of growth rate, these include a smart home entrance lock, remotely controlled thermostat, kitchen devices that can be controlled with a smartphone app, remotely controlled lighting, and home security cameras. These fast-growing technologies give consumers a feeling of being in control and safe. For example, it is no longer necessary to get out of bed to start your morning coffee since you can activate the coffee maker in bed with your phone. And nobody has to worry anymore when away from home whether the coffee maker was still on. Most of these technologies are projected to have ownership rates of a fifth (20.3%) to a quarter (24.8%) of consumers next year, while the penetration of security cameras is projected to reach a third (34%).
Another fast-growing consumer technology is wearable action equipment like a “Go Pro” video camera, projected to be owned by nearly a fifth (18.8%) of consumers next year. Virtual and augmented reality devices will also achieve penetration in one out of five households next year (19.4% and 20.1%).
|Projected Growth Rate (2021 - 2022)||Ownership Incidence (U.S. Adults 18 Years+)|
|A 3D printer||31%||7.9%||10.3%||13.4%|
|A door lock for a home door which can be opened via a smartphone or an access code||27%||10.9%||16.5%||20.8%|
|A thermostat which can be controlled and modified via an app on a smartphone, such as Nest or Ecobee4||26%||17.4%||18.8%||23.6%|
|Kitchen appliances such as a refrigerator or coffeemaker which can be controlled via an app on a smartphone||25%||14.8%||16.3%||20.3%|
|Wearable action equipment (e.g., video camera like a "GoPro")||23%||12.8%||15.3%||18.8%|
|A smart robot vacuum cleaner, such as iRobot Roomba, Neato Botvac||22%||16.5%||19.7%||24.1%|
|Lights or light switches which can be controlled via an app on a smartphone, such as Philips Hue, Cree Connected, or GE Link Connected||22%||15.5%||20.3%||24.8%|
|Virtual reality equipment||21%||10.7%||16.0%||19.4%|
|A security camera for your home which you can monitor online or with an app on a smartphone, such as Amazon Cloud Cam||18%||20.8%||28.9%||34.0%|
|Augmented reality experiences via a smart phone, such as Pokemon Go||17%||13.6%||17.3%||20.1%|
|A voice controlled TV, such as Sony Smart TV, Samsung Smart TV||15%||28.8%||30.0%||34.6%|
|A fitness tracker to track your daily activity level||13%||28.5%||33.5%||37.7%|
|A voice controlled intelligent personal assistant to use at home, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home||12%||30.9%||37.8%||42.2%|
|A voice controlled intelligent personal assistant on a smartphone, such as Siri or Google Assistant||10%||41.0%||43.6%||47.9%|
|*Based on regression model using future purchase intentions|
|Source: 2021 National Technology Readiness Survey, sponsored by Rockbridge Associates, Inc., A. Parasuraman and Center for Excellence, Robert H. Smith School, University of Maryland|
Some consumer technologies have experienced rapid growth in the past but have now reached high adoption rates and are showing signs of slowing in relative growth terms. This includes fitness trackers, which are expected to have modest growth now that they are owned by one out of three consumers, home voice controlled personal assistants like Alexa, and voice controlled personal smartphone assistants like Siri.
The future looks exciting, with consumers benefiting from increasingly intelligent devices. At one time, futurists envisioned a world where everything would be automated and activated with the push of a button. The future viewed from the 2020’s is one where humans control their machines at any time or place with a handheld device and where they can create physical objects and simulate reality.
Learn more about TechQual, our measurement approach to consumer technology adoption.
About the Study: The National Technology Readiness Survey is sponsored by Rockbridge Associates, Inc., A. Parasuraman and the Center for Excellence in Service, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. The study is based on an annual survey of U.S. adults age 18+ sampled from an online panel and weighted based on Census Bureau data. The 2021 study includes 1522 adults and the 2020 study includes 1216 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Written by: Charles Colby, Founder and Chief Methodologist