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Posts in category 'Foresight'

17 March 2012

The origins of futurism

DS002993

Bruce Sterling, the celebrated science fiction writer and author of Tomorrow Now, explains why you don’t need to be clairvoyant to predict the future. The article is part of the Futurism series in Smithsonian Magazine.

“The fifth and final method [to forecast the future] is the most effective of all. If individuals have never encountered modernity, then you can tell them about real, genuine things that already are happening now—for them, that is the future.

Put another way, the future is already upon us, but is happening in niches. The inhabitants of that niche may be saint-like pioneers with practical plans for applying technology to eliminate hunger or preserve the environment. Far more commonly, they’re weird people with weird ideas and practices, and are objects of ridicule.”

Read article

17 March 2012

Meet the 2020 Chinese consumer

chinese-consumers-2020

By 2020, Chinese consumers will join the ranks of the world’s choosiest and most sophisticated consumers. In the March 2012 report “Meet the 2020 Chinese Consumer” Yuval Atsmon, Max Magni, Lihua Li and Wenkan Liao of McKinsey China contemplate the profile of the Chinese consumer in 2020.

“Most large, consumer-facing companies have long realized that they will need China’s growth to power their own in the next decade. But to keep pace, they will also need to understand the economic, societal, and demographic changes that are shaping consumers’ profiles and the way they spend. This is no easy task, not only because of the fast pace of growth and subsequent changes being wrought on the Chinese way of life, but also because there are vast economic and demographic differences across China. These are set to become more marked, with significant implications for companies that fail to grasp them. In the next decade, we believe yawning gaps could open up between companies that have similar sales turnover today but display different levels of focus on the best growth opportunities for the future.

Since 2005, McKinsey has conducted annual consumer surveys in China, interviewing in total more than 60,000 people in over 60 cities. The surveys have tracked the growth of incomes, shifting spending patterns, rising expectations sometimes in line with the respondents’ western counterparts and sometimes not—and the development of many different consumer segments. Those surveys now provide insights to help us focus on the future. We cannot, of course, predict it with certainty. And external shocks might confound any forecast. But our understanding of consumer trends to date, coupled with our analysis of the economic and demographic factors that will further shape these trends in the next decade, serve as a useful lens through which to contemplate 2020. We do not claim to paint a complete picture of the 2020 consumer. Rather, this report points to those traits likely to influence the way companies ride the next wave of growth in China’s consumer market.

- Article with key data (McKinsey Quarterly)
- Full report

22 December 2011

Julian Bleecker: creating wily subversions

Near Future laboratory

Steven Portigal interviews Julian Bleecker about the near future, design fiction and storytelling.

Julian Bleecker is a designer, technologist and researcher in the Advanced Projects studio at Nokia Design in Los Angeles and the Near Future Laboratory where he investigates emerging social practices around new networked interaction rituals. His focus is on hands-on design and prototyping as a way to raise questions about commonly held assumptions about digital media and digital devices so as to explore possibilities for innovation. He lectures and leads workshops on the intersections of art, design, technology and the near-future possibilities for new social-technical interaction rituals.

Read interview

15 December 2011

Nokia foresight on the future of mobile design

Ager-wick

Sondre Ager-Wick, Nokia’s Head of Design Strategy and Foresight, discusses the evolution and future of mobile design.

His new trends:
- DIY design
- Electronically enhanced senses
- The smartification of everything
- Less digital bling. More content first.
- Getting serious about play

Read article

10 November 2011

GEM, Nokia’s new concept phone

GEM
Nokia releases a new phone concept – Gem – which “revolutionizes mobile design by turning the entire handset into a touchscreen”.

Launched on the 25th anniversary of the Nokia Research Centre, the GEM device changes appearance from camera to phone or map according to the function selected by the user. It could even display advertising messages on the back of the phone.

The back and front are also interactive, making it possible to pinch and zoom the rear of the phone while getting a constant clear view of the image on the front.

Read announcement (with concept video)

28 October 2011

Why Microsoft’s vision of the future is dead on arrival

PLoS ONE
A viral clip produced by Microsoft is–like almost every video on this subject–amazingly polished. It’s also inane and completely lifeless, says FastCo Design.

“Futuristic interfaces are supposed to solve problems and make life easier. What good are they–besides being eye candy–if the future around them is picture-perfect already? The Microsoft video takes that conceit of perfection and carries it so far that the concepts begin to look ridiculous: You can pick out all kinds of clever touches, such as the way the images on a computer screen can be dragged off screen to become holograms–and then can be controlled with gestures. But by that point, we’re way off in future land, where none of these clever touches feel rooted in life. They don’t address problems we understand.”

Read article

28 October 2011

BlackBerry Future Visions

BlackBerry future handset
Research in Motion seems to have commissioned a pair of videos envisioning portable technology in the not-so-distant future, writes PocketNow: specifically, they focus on interactions among employees, or between employees and customers, and how portable devices play a role in their day-to-day lives.

Chris Velazco on TechCrunch calls it “a refined extension of what we already have as opposed to a wild vision of what we could have.”

Watch videos (alternate link)

20 October 2011

Philips launches ‘Microbial Home’ new forward looking design concepts

Microbial Home
Today Philips presented its latest forward looking design project ‘Microbial Home’, which includes a group of design concepts that represent an innovative and sustainable approach to energy, waste, lighting, food preservation, cleaning, grooming, and human waste management.

The Microbial Home project is a proposal for an integrated cyclical ecosystem where each function’s output is another’s input. In the project the home has been viewed as a biological machine to filter, process and recylcle what we conventionally think of as waste – sewage, effluent, garbage, waste water.

16 October 2011

Consumer futures 2020 scenarios

Consumer futures 2020
Sainsbury’s, Unilever and Forum for the Future have jointly produced Consumer Futures 2020 as a practical tool to help organisations throughout the global consumer goods industry to prepare for the future. The project explores how consumer expectations and behaviour will change, allowing these brands to use these new insights to take the lead in driving forward sustainable consumption.

Leading brands need to take the initiative and work together to stimulate consumer pull on sustainability and make ‘sustainable consumption’ mainstream.

Consumer Futures 2020 aims to help them do this. It is designed as a practical tool to help organisations throughout the global consumer goods industry plan for the future. It contains four different but entirely plausible scenarios which explore how patterns of consumption and consumer behaviour may have changed by 2020.

The scenarios are not intended to be predictions or visions of desired futures. They look at how global trends may change our world and the consumer goods industry, and how sustainable products, services and business models could become mainstream.

In order to create the scenarios the team took what it saw as the two least certain trends with the greatest impact on the future of the consumer goods industry:

  • Prosperous vs Less prosperous – by 2020 will our economy be flourishing or subdued?
  • Do-it-yourself vs Do-it-for-me – will consumers take the initiative to satisfy their needs or expect brands to do this for them?

They used these to create a two-by-two matrix, which in turn enabled them to create the four scenarios – ‘My way’, ‘Sell it to me’, ‘From Me to You’ and ‘I’m in your hands’ – exploring how these trends could play out.

Read more (check the download section on the left)

16 October 2011

Brian David Johnson: Intel’s guide to the future

Brian David Johnson
Alex Knapp, Forbes Magazine contributor, talks with Intel futurist Brian David Johnson on what he take into account when planning the future:

“The answer is both intriguing and quite unlike most futurists I know. Johnson’s first stop is the social sciences. He works with Dr. Genevieve Bell, a cultural anthropologist who has been at Intel since 1998. Their teams work with ethnographers, social scientists, and others to understand the current state of the culture and try to figure out where it’s going.

The next step is then looking at the hardware. Johnson and his team work with computer scientists to look at the current state of the art in hardware, software, and algorithms, as well as the research coming up. The tech data is meshed with the social sciences data to answer a simple question: how can we apply this technology to capture people’s imaginations and make their lives better?

“At that point,” Johnson says. “I start to look at the trends. Which is really where most people start.”

Combining all of this data, Johnson then develops what he calls a “vision of the future” that his team can work to build.”

Read interview

27 September 2011

The end of motoring

Motoring
Highly recommended read in The Guardian on the end of the golden age of motoring (or for non-Brits: car travel):

“The most radical change [according to German entrepreneur Stefan Liske] is that “in big societies, there is a huge status shift happening, where we are losing the idea that you use a car to define your status. So the industry needs more flexible leasing, financing and car-sharing models. And second, they have to find new revenue streams.

The near future that Liske describes echoes the computer industry’s earlier shift from a business model based on hardware to one based on software. “Audi and Toyota have just invested $1bn in wind energy. If you’re leasing a car from them, they can sell you the energy – or they go in a different direction like BMW, who just invested $100m in start-up companies offering transport-related mobile services.”

Underpinning all these innovations and ideas is what Liske sees as a major behavioural shift among the generation of “digital natives”. “They don’t care about owning things. Possession is a burden, and a car is a big investment for most people – not just the vehicle, but the permits, the parking space.”

Read article

1 September 2011

Human plus Machine

The future of human-machine interaction
In the next ten years, smart machines will enter virtually every domain of our lives, including assisting doctors during surgery, fighting on battlefields, building things in factories, and assisting in classrooms, nursing homes, and offices. As machines augment and replace humans in various tasks, their largest impact may be less obvious: their presence among us will change how we see ourselves, forcing us to confront the fundamental question of what we humans are uniquely good at. What is our competitive advantage, and where is our place alongside these machines?

Download essay by Marina Gorbis, Executive Director, Institute for the Future

29 July 2011

Art that interacts if you interface

Talk to Me
The New York Times reviews Paola Antonelli’s “Talk to Me” show at the Museum of Modern Art.

“At its best “Talk to Me” makes you aware of how our relationship to design has become more emotional and intuitive. Ms. Antonelli points out that “we now expect objects to communicate, a cultural shift made evident when we see children searching for buttons or sensors on a new object, even when the object has no batteries or plug.”

And the show is certainly a brave undertaking for a design department that’s still strongly associated with 20th-century modernism. It’s a big step from a Corbusier chair to an iPhone, or as Ms. Antonelli puts it, “from the centrality of function to that of meaning.”

But from a viewer’s perspective MoMA’s messianic embrace of smartphones in galleries is enervating. Call me a reactionary, but I’m convinced that looking, not scanning or tweeting, is still the primary purpose of a museum visit.”

Read article

27 July 2011

The future of learning

ben8
New research findings from a global study of education systems suggest that the promise of a hi-tech, high-skills, high-wage future for kids is a fantasy. Does digital media and learning offer a better future, asks Ben Williamson on DMLCentral.

“Since the 1980s there has been an increasing emphasis on educating individuals who are able to constantly update and upgrade their skills to do well in a competitive new economy which relies on new technologies, new ideas, and perpetual innovations. According to this basic model, smart learners will help rescue a nation at risk at the same time as delivering the middle class dream. Much of the work done on integrating new technology into education over the decades since then has been a variation on this basic simplification. The dream of the future embodied in these efforts has been of hi-tech, high-skills, high-wage knowledge work.

However, the promise of hi-tech learning leading to high-skills and high-wage knowledge work has now been found to be broken. [...]

Clearly, the hi-tech, high-skills, high-wage future that has been promised to youth since the 1980s now looks less and less sustainable, besides being ethically dubious in the first place. [...] The vision of hi-tech schooling ought to be queried and debated. [...] Does the digital media and learning field offer an adequate prospectus for what Giroux calls “a future that needs your skills, critical judgment, sense of responsibility, compassion, imagination, and humility”?”

Read article

19 July 2011

Beyond the cubicle

Arieff's desk
Allison Arieff talks in her New York Times Opinionator blog about the design of work.

Paraphrasing Nathan Shedroff, she states that furniture is not the problem. Instead, she says, “design itself is the problem because it is being used to solve the wrong ones — despite its best intentions.”

“The Journal had asked a handful of design firms “to envision a space that could inspire ideas and increase productivity.” I’m not going to argue that good architecture won’t make for more pleasant working environments that can lead to greater employee satisfaction — the workplace is still relevant no matter how many people work remotely (currently over 50 million, at least part of the time). But it’s also true that creativity can come from anywhere, and probably least of all from inside a cubicle, no matter how sunny and technologically mind-blowing it is.

So, apart from furniture and skylights, how might designers (and the companies who hire them) think about work differently?”

In her article, Arieff provides a few examples of “some truly inventive things happening in the world of work”.

Read article

UPDATE:
Read also part 2 of this article.

7 July 2011

Web 3.0 is all about social personalisation

Social media
Forget Web 2.0. During a panel on social media at the recent Wharton Global Alumni Forum, industry experts argued that we are now in a “third wave” of disruption in the tech sector. While the post-bubble era was about user-generated content, they say the future will be centered on filtering the immense amount of data available on the web and helping users find information from the people they care about most — their friends.

“Web 2.0 was centered on user-generated content, where anyone could be a publisher. We’re now in the third wave — I call it a social wave,” said Travis Katz, [founder and CEO of travel recommendations site Gogobot and] a former MySpace executive who served on a Forum panel titled “New Directions for Social Media.” Also on the panel were Ethan Beard, Facebook’s director of platform partnerships; Wharton Digital Press executive editor Shannon Berning; entrepreneur and Lotus 1-2-3 designer Mitch Kapor; and Bryan Srabian, director of social media for the San Francisco Giants.

The web has grown to the point where “there’s too much information,” according to Katz. “Finding ways to filter out information and find what’s relevant to you is getting harder and harder. The model of Google doesn’t work at scale — especially when it comes to things where taste matters.”

Katz predicted that the future of the Internet “is one where every page is going to be personalized.

Read article

26 June 2011

IBM reveals untapped mobile users of the future

IBM Health
Consumers have a growing appetite for health and wellness gadgets and this represents a burgeoning market opportunity for device manufacturers that has barely been tapped, according to a study from IBM.

“There’s a huge group of mobile users that you may be overlooking as you develop your hospital’s mobile strategy. They’re “information seekers,” and they will be the largest cohort of mobile healthcare consumers in the future, according to a new report by IBM, “The Future of Connected Health Devices.”

Traditional mHealth users are a small percentage of highly motivated individuals with significant fitness goals or debilitating chronic conditions. Both groups are willing to put in the time to learn and use smartphone apps, remote monitoring devices and other mobile health products, IBM’s researchers found in their study of more than 1,300 mobile health device users.

A far larger, but trickier-to-engage, group consists of “information seekers,” according to the study. These users may have one chronic condition, such as obesity or smoking, that doesn’t immediately threaten their health, but that they want help managing.”

- Read article
- Read press release
- Download report

23 June 2011

Achieving long-term sustainability at a Belgian expo centre

Event project
A road(map) to sustainability: How an Expo centre can become low-impact

The Event project, funded by Flanders In Shape, a Flemish design promotion agency, created a framework for the Kortrijk Xpo centre to become the most environmentally sustainable trade fair and congress complex in Belgium by 2020 and a top five player in Europe. Experientia and Futureproofed created an environmental roadmap to guide Kortrijk Xpo in achieving its ambitious objective.

The roadmap detailed steps to take over a ten-year time-frame, and included a benchmark of sustainable expo centres from around the world, a calculation of the carbon footprint resulting from expo activities, tailored reduction targets, a behavioural change framework, and over 100 carbon reduction concepts.

These focused on reducing travel and providing alternative transport means, harnessing the potential of social networking and building conference communities, and motivating and encouraging all stakeholders, including conference attendees, to participate in the change to more sustainable practices.

As Europe approaches the 2020 deadline for the EU’s European Energy Policy, the roadmap will help position Kortrijk Xpo as a far-sighted leader in sustainable practices for temporary events.

- Read article
- Download illustrated pdf

27 May 2011

The future of the TV experience

BLINK
The second global edition of BLINK, a quarterly media industry magazine published by media agency MediaCom, looks into the future of TV.

The 48 page magazine contains insights from experts from around the globe on how TV is changing in the digital age. What does the future hold for channels such as Video on Demand? How do consumer behaviours differ in Asia and how can the Western world learn from them?

Some highlights from the magazine:

The evolution of moving pictures
By Daniel Bischoff, Dennis Grzenia and Sven Wollner, MediaCom Germany
Moving pictures are ubiquitous in modern media. They are part of our culture, part of the way we communicate and have the power to linger long in our memories. But how have moving images evolved? And what lies ahead in the future?

Trends in TV & Video on Demand
By Jonas Hemmingsen, CEO, MediaCom Nordic
Will Video on Demand really change the way we watch television? or will the internet simply become an alternative way to deliver a classic TV experience?

Marketing across platforms
By Michele Skettino, MediaCom USA
Q&A with Michael Kelly, President/CEO of The Weather Channel Companies

6 new ways of viewing television
By MediaCom Italy powered by GroupM
The availability of video on the internet has transformed the way TV is being watched. But while the majority of people use it to augment their traditional viewing habits, a few have discarded their television sets altogether.

The future of TV in Asia
By Jeff McFarland
The future of TV in Asia belongs to mobile and online and may have little to do with the television set

The future of the TV experience
By Helge Tennø
Multitasking, once predicted as the last nail in the coffin of the TV industry, could now be the thing that reconnects TV with its most important player: the audience.

Media plan of the future
By Oliver Gertz, Managing Director Interaction Europe, Middle East & Africa, MediaCom
By combining online and TV we can reach larger audiences, more effectively. High demand means pre-roll and mid-roll ads are seller’s market so we must consider all formats in order to achieve the best return on investment (ROI).

Asia is digitally different
By Robert Fry, Head of Insights, MediaCom Asia Pacific
Until recently marketers in Asia had struggled to explain to their colleagues in the West how different their region was when it came to digital. While they all could appreciate the larger ‘quantity’ of usage, it was harder to relay the higher ‘quality’ of usage. However, the evidence is now becoming clearer.

One of the contributors, Helge Tennø of the Scandinavian Design Group, delves into the topic of multitasking – which he sees the thing as that reconnects TV with its most important asset: the audience – in a rather confusing excerpt article on 180/360/720 (republished on FutureLab), but I recommend to read his original contribution in the PDF download of the magazine.

Also worth some exploration are:
- Webcast on the future of TV with Gerhard Zeiler (CEO, RTL Group) and Sue Unerman (CSO of MediaCom UK)
- MediaCom whitepaper on the future of TV
- Panel on Future TV at DLD11 with Peter Hirshberg, Thomas Künstner (Partner with Booz & Company’s Communications Media and Technology Practice), Brian Sullivan (CEO, Sky Deutschland), and Ynon Kreiz (Chairman and CEO, Endemol group)

26 May 2011

City as a platform

PSFK
Two talks from the 2011 PSFK conference caught my attention:

City as a platform (video)
In her role as Chief Digital Officer for the City of New York, Rachel Sterne is tasked with strengthening the City’s digital media presence and streamlining internal digital communications.
In her talk Sterne demonstrated recent innovations that are shaping the city’s future. Mentioning how city resident participation is crucial with a real-time approach, attendees were shown “The Daily Pothole,” a Tumblr that tracks the D.O.T.’s progress in filling potholes in the five boroughs and its companion app, the roll-out of QR code technology on building permits, the NYC 311 app, as well as fielding service requests via Twitter.

Industrial Design: ID For The City (alternate) (video)
Duncan Jackson and Eoin Billings (interview), are both partners at Billings Jackson, a design firm specializing in public spaces. They spoke about their work, history and how they bridge the gap between architecture and manufacturing. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, they appreciate and embrace the the urban landscape for what it is. Crafting solutions that interpret design vision in city environments is their forté and the duo explained the value in understanding the intricacies of each place, culture, and its residents before beginning a new project. Their approach is exemplified through their architectural work, with city life exuding from each structure rather then being blurred by it.

> Check also the video and PSFK report on the Microsoft Home of the Future.