Is the future coming at you fast? Tech expert Brandon Doyle reviews technology “breakthroughs” that you don’t need to stress over.

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Technology can be confusing and overwhelming, especially when it feels like new buzzwords are being thrown around constantly. This especially happens around the time of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), when all of the latest and greatest gadgets and platforms come out and the tech press has a field day making predictions about how these technologies will impact us.

Although you may feel pressure to understand and keep up with the latest trends, here are five things everyone is talking about that you shouldn’t spend time worrying about.

5G for cellular networks

If you ask the cellular network providers, they’ll tell you how great 5G is and how it will revolutionize the world and add more connected devices. It’s the fifth generation of wireless technology, and it promises faster speeds and better connectivity.

This may be true if you live in a densely populated area, however, in many suburbs, you may find that 5G is slower than the LTE that you’ve been using for years. The range of 5G is generally shorter than that of LTE due to the higher frequency bands that it operates on.

5G typically operates on frequency bands in the millimeter wave range, which are much higher in frequency than the bands used for LTE. The higher frequency of the 5G bands means that the signal has a shorter range and is more susceptible to interference from physical obstructions such as buildings and trees. This is one of the reasons 5G networks often require a denser network of small cells to provide coverage.

By the time 5G becomes standard and distributed widely, you’ll have already upgraded your phone. In the meantime, if you’re experiencing slower-than-expected speeds, I recommend turning off 5G to see if you get a faster connection on LTE. My wife and I live in a big suburb of Minneapolis, and for us, LTE is still better than 5G

The metaverse for live, work, play

The word “metaverse” was coined by science fiction author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, where it referred to a virtual reality world that was accessed via the internet. In the novel, the metaverse was a fully immersive virtual environment in which people could interact with each other and with virtual objects and avatars.

Since its introduction in that book, the concept of the metaverse has been adopted by a number of tech companies and has come to refer to a virtual reality world that is created by the convergence of multiple virtual worlds and augmented reality environments.

The term “metaverse” has also been used to describe virtual reality environments that are created for specific purposes, such as online gaming or social networking. It is now commonly used to refer to a virtual reality world that is accessed via the internet and that is shared by multiple users.

My biggest pet peeve on this topic is when anyone refers to “The Metaverse.” The reality is that there are and will be multiple metaverses — as of this writing there are about 160 different ones. These companies are betting on users flocking to their new spaces, however none have really delivered on the promise of a compelling immersive experience.

Virtual reality isn’t new; neither is the concept of an online world. Massive multiple online role-playing games (RPGs) have been around since 1991, including many with their own economies where people can exchange real money for items within the game. The value is only there if people want to engage in these areas — a far cry from the current situation, which feels like a money-grab to me.

AI for content creation and client service

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a hot topic in the tech world, and it is being used in a wide range of applications, from self-driving cars to virtual assistants. You’ve probably seen your friends changing out their profile pictures for cool-looking avatars. Perhaps you’ve interacted with a chatbot or heard all the humbug about how ChatGPT is going to replace content creators like myself.

The reality is that we live in a human world, and people want to be treated like humans. AI is only as smart as it’s been programmed to be. Although it can certainly save time and do some interesting stuff, it isn’t something I’d spend a lot of time worrying about.

To drive my point home, I tried to let AI write some articles for me. What it delivered was a bunch of generic, regurgitated content. What makes you the subject matter expert, whether you’re talking about real estate or your local market, is that you can go deep on a topic, give examples and tell the story the way only a human can.

8K for TVs and monitors

At CES 2023, all of the major manufactures touted their latest and greatest television with 8K resolution that offers four times the resolution of 4K. Although 8K displays are available on the market, they are still quite expensive and may not be worth the investment unless you are a professional content creator or have a particular interest in high-resolution video.

Most people can see a difference between 1080p (Full HD) and 4K resolutions when viewing content on a large screen, such as a television or computer monitor, from a typical viewing distance. However, it is difficult for most people to see a significant difference between 4K and higher resolutions.

Currently, there isn’t really any 8K content available for consumers; instead, these TVs use an AI chip to upscale content to 8K. There are a lot of other important specs that I would prioritize before 8K resolution, and it would be very hard to justify the price: The most affordable option is currently around $3,498 for a 75-inch screen. Give it a few years, and the cost will come down.

Matter protocol for smart homes

If I had to wager, the majority of the people reading this article right now will have no idea what Matter is and that is OK. If you pay attention to the smart home space at all, get ready for every manufacturer to tell you how great the new Matter protocol is and how all your devices are going to work together.

Companies that make devices that would typically connect through a hub or over Wi-Fi such as switches, bulbs, or contact sensors are excited about this new standard because their devices should work with all three of the major ecosystems, Google, Amazon, and Apple. As nice as it sounds, we’ve already had a lot of great protocols available including Z-Wave, Zigbee, and of course Wi-Fi, but just because a device is able to connect via one of these methods doesn’t mean you’ll have access to all of the features you’d expect.

My prediction is that companies will try to force you into using their app so that you have a controlled user experience. They will also try to expand their product lines. 

At the end of the day, most consumers never understood the different protocols, and slapping Matter on the box isn’t going to help with that either. When shopping for smart home products, just be sure that what you buy works with what you have currently, and do not buy anything with the expectation of it being able to connect in the future.

In conclusion, it’s important to remember that technology buzzwords can be exciting, but they are often not as significant as they may seem. Don’t worry about feeling pressure to understand and keep up with every new development. Focus on what is relevant to your business or lifestyle. The future is exciting, but we’re living here today.

Brandon Doyle is a Realtor at Doyle Real Estate Team — RE/MAX Results in Minneapolis and co-author of Mindset, Methods & Metrics – Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. You can follow him on Twitter.

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