12 Emerging Technologies To Watch In 2021

Technology stocks have historically led market rallies, and this year has been no exception. The Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund XLK has advanced about 40% year-to-date, with stocks levered to remote work and study making strong upward moves.

As an unusual year draws to a close, here are 12 key technologies compiled by Lux Research that will likely be in the spotlight in 2021.

Autonomous Vehicles: Increasing levels of vehicle automation, especially Level 4 and 5 autonomous vehicles, will eventually remove the need for a driver in consumer and commercial vehicles, Lux Research said.

Investors can tap into emerging opportunities in areas such as sensors and connectivity for autonomous vehicles, the report said.

Some beneficiaries could be lidar solution providers such as Veoneer Inc VNE, ON Semiconductor Corp ON, NXP Semiconductors NV NXPI, Autoliv Inc. ALV, Texas Instruments Incorporated TXN and NVIDIA Corporation NVDA

Natural Language Processing: This is the branch of artificial intelligence that helps computers understand, interpret and manipulate human language.
Patents related to this technology, which powers devices such as voice assistants, machine translation and chatbots, have increased at a compounded annual growth rate of 44% annually over the last five years, Lux Research said.

Some of the key players in the segment include Apple Inc AAPL, Alphabet Inc GOOGL, Amazon.com, Inc.'s AMZN AWS, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co HPE, Intel Corporation INTC, IBM IBM, Microsoft Corporation MSFT, Adobe Inc ADBE and 3M Co MMM.

Plastic Recycling: This comprises of innovations that convert plastic waste into a variety of valuable products, serving the dual purpose of enabling a circular economy and avoiding pollution, Lux Research said.

In the last decade, 155 star-ups addressing plastic waste have been founded, the report said. 

Stocks to play the trend include Loop Industries Inc LOOP.

AI-Enabled Sensors: AI techniques such as machine learning have provided methods to analyze and derive insight from sensor data, unlocking new sensor capabilities and applications, Lux Research said. This is being used in computer vision for analyzing image sensor data.

The firm also sees other sensor types such as mechanical, acoustic and even thermal sensors as being impacted by AI tools.

Bioinformatics: This is the application of computer technology to the understanding and effective use of biological and clinical data. Key applications of this technology include diagnostics, discovery, personalization, quality and optimization, risk assessment and safety and traceability.

Roche Holdings AG Basel ADR Common Stock RHHBY, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. Class A Common Stock BIO and Irhythm Technologies Inc IRTC are among the bioinformatics plays.

Green Hydrogen: This technology is focused on producing clean hydrogen for energy, mobility and industrial uses.

Plug Power Inc PLUG, Bloom Energy Corp BE and TM Power plc ITMPF are green hydrogen stocks to capitalize on this emerging trend.

Shared Mobility: Shared mobility is an innovative transportation strategy that allows users to gain short-term access to transportation modes on an as-needed basis.

The includes various forms of carsharing, bikesharing, ridesharing and on-demand ride services.

Shared mobility, according to Lux Research, is poised to disrupt the multibillion-dollar auto industry.

"Self-driving cars, zero-emission vehicles, connectivity, and innovative materials are defining the future of mobility," the report said.

Ride-hailing companies such as Uber Technologies Inc UBER, and LYFT Inc LYFT, robotaxi services such as Google's Waymo, Amazon's Zoox, Baidu Inc's BIDU Apollo and electric vehicle stocks are avenues of staying invested in this promising arena.

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Alternate Proteins: Demand for alternative proteins have been on the rise, supported by factors such as consumer preferences and supply and environmental concerns, according to Lux Research. Alternative proteins are sourced from plants, insects, fungi or through tissue culture to replace conventional animal-based protein. This trend should work in favor of plant meat companies such as Beyond Meat Inc BYND.

3D Printing: 3D printing is an additive process in which aan object is created by laying down successive layers of material.

It is used in industries such as automotive, aviation, construction, consumer products and health care. 

Some of the listed 3D companies are HP Inc HPQ, Proto Labs Inc PRLB, Materialise NV MTLS, Organovo Holdings Inc ONVO, Stratasys Ltd SSYS and 3D Systems Corporation DDD.

Materials Informatics: It is a field of study that applies the principles of informatics to material science and engineering to better understand the use, selection, development and discovery of materials.

Precision Agriculture: It is an approach to farm management that uses information technology to ensure that crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimum health and productivity with an objective of ensuring profitability, sustainability and protection of the environment.

Synthetic Biology: Synthetic Biology combines engineering principles and molecular biology techniques to produce novel biological solutions.

This multidisciplinary field brings together engineers and biologists, who are developing these solutions for useful purposes, across numerous areas including diagnostics, therapeutics, manufacturing and agriculture.

Twist Bioscience Corp TWST, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. TMO, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co BMY, Amyris Inc AMRS and Codexis, Inc. CDXS are among the companies that are working on this technology.

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