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  • Sebastien Van Laere

Future Digest - October 19th


This week's Future Digest explores how businesses are shifting to a model that promotes conscious consumption, the implications of an activist consumer, the digital future of fitness, the disruptive potential of LIDAR technology in smartphones, the importance of designing for human - AI collaboration and if in the future we might see advisory labels on all media.


  • Ferragamo is tapping into MR (mixed reality) to elevate the at-home shopping experience. In their "Future Craft" project, customers can customise a limited set of shoes online. To further elevate the experience customers can connect with sales reps who can advise and support with the customisation and of course also place the order.

  • This year, instead "Black Friday" IKEA is doing "Buy Back Friday", signalling the shift away from hyper-consumerism. Simultaneously in Vogue Business, brands share they are moving away from meaningless heavy discounting that fuels overconsumption.

  • shADe is a new free browser plugin that blocks advertising from unsustainable fashion brands. The tool aims to protect consumers from greenwashing and encourages them to make responsible fashion choices instead.

  • Harper's Bazaar reports female activists are the new influencers, inspiring not only political engagement but also style choices. And it's not just women in politics, consider women from literature, pop culture and sports like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jameela Jamil and Noami Osaka. The activist influencer should come as no surprise as Pew Research Center found that about 70% of Gen Z in the US want an activist government.


  • Both Vogue Business and the BoF (paywall) cover the shift in business model in fashion that embraces D2C and moves away from wholesale. Young fashion brands were the first to trial a D2C model that relied on pre-orders. Now more mature brands are taking note as the pre-order model means less waste, less inventory and less dependence on the fashion calendar making this new model more sustainable and agile.

  • Ready player one, because this week FastCo explored the future of fitness with a series of experts from the industry. The main area of growth all agreed on was digitally enabled workouts. Taking this one step further is FitXR, an at-home VR fitness experience.

  • YouTube TV adds Fantasy view as a new feature. The new add-on will display football fans their fantasy team while they are watching the live game.

  • Apple announced the new iPhone and Ipad models will contain LIDAR technology which will enable better 3D capturing and rendering and better AR experiences. This opens the door to many applications in retail and media, but equally 3D capturing could help businesses easily scan and share 3D models of their products.

  • AI has seen particular success in healthcare. The World Economic Forum anticipates that in the future AI will become an essential tool in healthcare areas such as radiology. However, few studies explore the adoption of these novel technologies in the workplace and more particularly the human barriers that hinder the uptake of this new technology. This week Wired covered research that explored just that. They report on a hospital that used "AI diplomats" to ensure the technology is adopted. For businesses to get on board with the fourth industrial revolution, it is not just about the technology, but also about the human-AI interaction and collaboration.


  • In his book "The Hype Machine" MIT professor Sinan Aral shares his insights on the dangers and benefits of social media. One of the recommendations he makes for the future is to label information. This week the Rand Corporation shared the results from a study that provides evidence this might indeed be an effective way to counter online manipulation.

  • The results from Finland's two year experiment with UBI are in and they offer initial evidence that UBI is a better form of social benefits. The research found UBI had a more positive impact on mental health, physical health, employment and trust than traditional social benefits.



  • As we continue to spend more time online, digital activism is becoming increasingly effective and easier for people to get involved in. As a result, brands need to develop even stronger relationships with their customers and embrace collaboration in order to connect with this empowered consumer.

  • As consumers expect businesses to act more responsibly, brands should not only adapt their products accordingly, but also how they engage with consumers - the message, the brand partners, the promotional strategy, etc.

  • It is becoming increasingly likely that in the future, the media landscape will include layered experiences as technologies such as VR and AR find application in the mainstream and digital media is able to integrate personal and social information to augment the experience. Now is the time to start exploring how to stand out in such a landscape, what to create for this future consumer and how to access this future consumer.

  • AI is already being used in so-called 'Lighthouse' factories, but also beyond the factory floor in design and marketing. Now is the time to not only explore where and how AI might help improve your businesses, but also how you will implement it and design for the optimal human-machine collaboration.

  • With the Oxford Martin Institute estimating that up to 47% of jobs are at risk of automation in the future, countries that embrace UBI as a social safety net might be better equiped to deal with this crisis.


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