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Posts in category 'Foresight'

4 July 2012

Intel social research team experiments with mood-altering technology

blanc4

A team of engineers, anthropologists and psychologists at Intel’s Oregon lab is busy developing ways of integrating human emotion and technology in ways that will, it hopes, lead the two to positively influence each other one day.

“Intel is playing around with some pretty impressive ideas that could, potentially, generate powerful results. They are, however, very aware of this and are treading with caution. In addition to ask how powerful technology can affect peoples’ moods, Intel is keen to find out what the best use would be for a “happiness algorithm”, if it were possible to develop one.”

Read article

24 May 2012

Ericsson User Experience Lab blog

ericsson

Cristian Norlin, master researcher at the Ericsson Research User Experience Lab, alerted me via Twitter to the Lab’s new blog.

The User Experience Lab at Ericsson Research studies people and make prototypes to better understand the experiential, affective and meaningful aspects of people’s interactions with technology and network infrastructures.

On the blog, which started in April 2012, “we will write about things that we think could inform, influence and inspire the development of future technology, products and services.”

Some of the recent posts:

3 May 2012

Social TV and the second screen

socialtv

Social TV is a major disruption in the rapidly changing television industry.

In the free report “Social TV and the second screen“, Stowe Boyd, acclaimed futurist, managing director of World Talk Research, and a researcher-at-large at The Futures Agency, characterizes the forces at work in the emergence of social TV, presents a framework for understanding the changes that are already at work in the industry, and profiles some of the most innovative companies in the sector.

“The most significant change — from the perspective of the user, at least — will be shift in emphasis toward a rich and social user experience, and a decrease in the emphasis around the content being delivered via TV. This doesn’t mean that people will stop caring about high quality TV: they will still care about quality. But users will demand that TV content fit into the social context.”

The report is made available under creative commons licensing: not for profit, with attribution, without modification.

17 April 2012

Wearable devices: the next battleground for the platform wars

bits-wearablereport-tmagArticle

Wearable devices, or “wearables” for short, have enormous potential for uses in health and fitness, navigation, social networking, commerce, and media.

In a new report out today, Forrester argues that wearables will move mainstream once they get serious investment from the “big five” platforms — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook — and their developer communities.

A blog post by the research company lists the key take-aways.

> More reflections by The New York Times | TechCrunch

Meanwhile, interaction-design.org has published an extensive chapter on wearable computing, in collaboration with Steven Mann, a tenured professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto.

21 March 2012

Futurescapes – imagining what the world will look like in 2025

futurescapes_logo

FutureScapes, an open collaboration project by Sony and Forum for the Future, aims to bring together a range of expert thinkers, designers, futurologists, writers (including those from The Economist’s Intelligence Unit and Wired Magazine) and you – the public – to explore the opportunities and challenges of life in 2025, and to consider the potential contribution that technology and entertainment can make in shaping a better, more sustainable future.

“FutureScapes is all about imagining what the world of 2025 will look like and the role technology could play in our lives.

To inspire you and provide a starting point for your thoughts we’ve come up with four different scenarios of the world we may be confronted with in 2025. These aren’t predictions of the future, but are intended to help us visualise the possibilities for our future and think about how we might plan for those possibilities now.

The written scenarios are a result of an open and collaborative process involving people across Sony and Forum for the Future, as well as leading futurologists and experts from a range of fields.

Watch videos
Download report

(via Bruce Sterling)

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.