Future Digest - February 15th
In this Future Digest we further explore the trend towards Immersive Retail, how content is becoming multi-dimensional and designing for a product's end of life. We also look at the future of the city, the rise of sexual wellbeing and the shift towards regenerative business practices. Finally, we examine new evidence for the food as medicine trend and a vision for the future that combines the best of technology and green design.
Apple is tapping into AR to promote the second season of its show For All Mankind. Through an app called Time Capsule, people can explore what happened between season 1 and 2 by interacting with different objects, playing games and watching content. Apple devices with a LiDAR scanner (such as an iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max or iPad Pro) can use a virtual slide projector to project Danny’s family photos onto their own walls.
By leveraging mobile technology such as AR, QR codes and geo-fencing, Nike brings Smith Rock State Park Oregon to its NYC House of Innovation store.
As more businesses explore circular business models, more attention is being paid to the entire product life-cycle. Additionally, Vogue Businesses [paywall] reports that regulators are considering end-of-life regulation. As a result, designers are now also focusing on designing the product's end-of-life.
While many have proclaimed that Covid is causing the end of cities, Bloomberg CityLab takes the opposite view and argues that if anything we will see a resurgence of cities as they are still the big drivers of progress and are a key part of the solution for dealing with climate change.
The Conversation reports on Zoomshock - how remote working could reshape English cities. They find that more people working from home post-pandemic could transform residential urban areas and make them more like urban centres with more retail and leisure options. Meanwhile, urban centres would lose out due to reduced foot traffic. With residential areas preferring local business over big brands, this shift could be a great boon to small businesses.
Sexual wellbeing has long resided in the world of taboo. However, a number of female-owned startups are changing this by launching new products that blend science and design and have been created by women for women.
For long nature was not valued and natural resources were only considered valuable once extracted. The shift towards a green economy is changing this and businesses are now looking to invest in natural resources in an attempt to become more sustainable. Luxury group Kering has partnered with environmental NGO Conservation International to launch its Regenerative Fund for Nature. IKEA purchased an 10,840-acre forest in the United States. The world of investment is also getting involved with VC group Single Earth, developing an online platform for landowners to earn money for under-utilising their land. Companies and organisations can purchase tokens and own fractional amounts of the lands and resources and in return receive carbon offsets.
Nature reports on new research that provides more evidence for the gut-brain axis. In this theory the gut can have a major impact on the brain and cause a host of disorders such as Parkinson's or motor neuron disease.
In dealing with the Covid19 pandemic, most of the focus has been on the physiological symptoms caused by the disease . Now scientists are starting to uncover the toll of the pandemic on people's mental health, where they found younger people and women suffer the most. The US census bureau found that more than 42% of people in December reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, an increase from 11% the previous year. A clinical psychologist added that these issues are likely to linger for some time.
Singapore is building a 42,000-home eco smart city. The new development combines green design principles with smart technologies. For example, planners used computer modelling to simulate wind flow and heat gain across the town to reduce the so-called 'urban heat island effect'. Traffic has been relocated to an underground level, leaving the ground level for people to walk and cycle. Meanwhile an urban farm will keep people connected to nature. Smart technology will play a key role in making the city run more efficiently and giving residents more control over their energy- and water consumption.
Entertainment content is going multidimensional in a new move that will see the story of a show continuing on different platforms. Whether by podcast, on social media through an interactive app, it will create a more immersive experience for fans who will get to explore their favourite shows in even more detail.
Immersive Retail, where the retail environment brings to life a world for the shopper to explore, seems here to stay. In the previous Future Digest, Pangaia applied this trend to e-commerce. This week, Nike showed that it can also be done in-store. By creating a phygital experience where the store environment and the digital experience work together, retailers can engage even more deeply with shoppers (creating a brand experience) whilst enabling frictionless shopping (driving conversion).
As Europe's Green New Deal focuses on transitioning to a circular economy, businesses need to redesign their products and processes to follow suit. With changing legislation on the horizon, businesses should start to explore today how to make a transition to zero waste.
Many believe the pandemic will either be the end of cities or a new start of an urban boom. However there is also a third possibility that sits in between, as described by the Zoomshock effect. In this case, working from home (even in small amounts) would lead to urban centres becoming slightly less relevant, while the more residential edges of the city would flourish and gain more commercial and leisure options.
Goop might have made an attempt to be an early adopter of sexual wellbeing with its controversial Jade Eggs, but now this trend is gaining momentum as different industries - from content to wellness and technology - get involved. There is an opportunity for progressive wellbeing brands to change the conversation around sexual wellbeing and promote a healthier relationship with it.
With more research providing evidence for the gut-brain axis, the food as medicine trend seems here to stay. While the theory does not link specific foods to brain disorders, it will add importance to the conversation around how we might want to adapt our diets to help us deal with the health challenges of the 21st century (neurodegenerative disease, cardio-vascular disease and mental health).