By: Pedro Palandrani, Andrew Little
Internet of Things
Surging Demand Sparks Semiconductor Sales Growth
Semiconductors are indispensable when it comes to the evolution of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, cloud computing hardware, autonomous vehicles, industrial automation, and others. As these themes accelerate, so does the demand for semiconductors. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, an industry leader supplying the likes of Nvidia, recently announced that it expects $25-$28 billion in capital spending in 2021, representing at least 47% growth versus 2020.1 The announcement comes during a period of global semiconductor supply shortages. The shortages have forced many auto companies to halt or slow vehicle production. Semiconductors have become a necessity for the vehicle industry with the growing pervasiveness of electronic features such as Bluetooth connectivity, driver assist, navigation and hybrid electric systems. Beyond the automotive industry, Apple found itself needing to push its latest launch date back by months due to the shortage.2
Image Recognition Accuracy Recognizes a New Upper Bound
Google Brain research scientist Quoc Le has released a new milestone for ImageNet, a database used in visual object recognition. Image recognition technology has been paramount to the success of Artificial Intelligence (AI). A new semi-supervised learning method will allow an increase in the accuracy of the model to 90.2%, up 1.6% from previous limits.3 Image recognition technology continues to improve, pushing the boundaries of AI. For example, facial recognition has come to serve a new purpose within the “new normal” of face coverings amid the pandemic. Advanced facial recognition for people wearing masks has been developed at Japanese biometrics firm NEC Corporation with 99.9% accuracy.4 The technology allows safe entry and exit systems for companies, educational institutions, public facilities, commercial facilities, event venues and theme parks.
Video Games & Esports
Video Games Don’t Stop Even Amid Re-Opening Economies
Activision Blizzard’s franchise, Call of Duty, continues to show strong engagement even as we re-open our economies. Combined monthly active users (MAU) during December 2020 on Modern Warfare/Warzone and Black Ops Cold War totaled 66 million people across PC, console, and mobile.8 The figure easily exceeds the second closest video game, Minecraft, with a total MAU of 39 million. These numbers show that video game engagement remains at elevated levels, even beyond the stay-at-home economy experienced earlier in 2020. With new video game consoles continuing to hit the market, momentum may continue in 2021.
Wellness & Digital Health
Online Therapy Offers a Pandemic Coping Mechanism
Mental health is one area of medicine quickly transitioning to virtual care. In the stages before the pandemic, telepsychiatry was gaining traction but only adopted by a relatively small group of people. The trend is accelerating rapidly, however, with the American Psychiatric Association reported members utilizing tele-psych soared to 84.7% from just 2.1% prior to Covid-19.9 Although largely the result of unique circumstances, this transition has shown patients and providers added benefits such as convenience, time, and costs, as well as continual therapist-patient relationships.
Robots Employed in the Battle Against Covid-19
COVID-19 poses risks to employee health who still need to conduct their work on-site. To combat these risks, many manufacturers are turning increasingly to robotics to limit human-to-human interactions. Companies ordered 9,972 robots in the fourth quarter, up 64% year-over-year.10 Beyond the pandemic, manufacturers are becoming increasingly enamored with automation due to advancements in computer vision, mobility and end-of-arm tools for grabbing objects. With these advancements, robots can take on an increasing work-burden, such as handling upwards of 1,300 packages an hour at FedEx locations. Workers on the other hand are focusing on more complex tasks, such as correcting addresses and dealing with delays, resulting in greater robot vs. human specialization and reducing costs.11
The following charts examine returns and sales growth expectations by theme, based on their corresponding ETFs.
To see individual ETF holdings across the Global X Thematic Growth Suite, click the below links:
- Disruptive Technology: Future Analytics Tech ETF (AIQ), Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ), Cybersecurity ETF (BUG), Cloud Computing ETF (CLOU), Autonomous & Electric Vehicles ETF (DRIV), FinTech ETF (FINX), Video Games & Esports ETF (HERO), Lithium and Battery Tech ETF (LIT), Internet of Things ETF (SNSR), Social Media ETF (SOCL), China Biotech Innovation ETF (CHB), Data Center REITs & Digital Infrastructure ETF (VPN), Emerging Markets Internet & E-Commerce ETF (EWEB)
- People and Demographics: Cannabis ETF (POTX), Millennials Thematic ETF (MILN), Health & Wellness Thematic ETF (BFIT), E-Commerce ETF (EBIZ), Genomics & Biotechnology ETF (GNOM), Longevity Thematic ETF (LNGR), Telemedicine & Digital Health ETF (EDOC), Education ETF (EDUT)
- Physical Environment: U.S. Infrastructure Development ETF (PAVE), CleanTech ETF (CTEC), Renewable Energy Producers (RNRG)
- Multi-Theme: Thematic Growth ETF (GXTG)
1. The Wall Street Journal, “TSMC Sailed Through 2020 in Ship Shape”, Jan 14, 2021.
2. AP News, “Semiconductor shortage forces automobile production cuts”, Jan 8, 2021.
3. Sina Technology, “ImageNet’s top-1 has finally reached 90%, and netizens questioned: How can people be convinced that the additional data set is not publicly available?”, Jan 19, 2021.
4. Computer Weekly, “Major facial-recognition supplier builds system to identify masked faces”, Jan 8, 2021.
5. Leafly, “Recreational cannabis sales debut in Arizona months ahead of schedule”, Jan 22, 2021.
8. Newzoo, “December’s Top 5 PC Games (by MAUs): Cyberpunk 2077 Amassed 17.5 Million Users Across PC, PlayStation & Xbox”, Jan 21, 2021.
9. Time, “Online Therapy, Booming During the Coronavirus Pandemic, May Be Here to Stay”, Aug 27, 2020.
10. Bloomberg, “improved vision, mobility and end-of-arm tools for grabbing objects”, Jan 28, 2021.
Originally Posted on February 11, 2021 – The Next Big Theme: February 2021
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