Humans will evolve a second skin. An invisible filter of zeros and ones through which we will conduct our daily interactions. Kinetic Active’s Dominic Murray takes us into the near future.
2016 was a year of disconnect.
Great social and political chasms predicted by very few split nations, families and friendship groups. 2016 felt like a year of disconnect in an age when we are more connected that ever.
And more connected we will become. But will new communication technologies fulfil the promise of better connection and understanding, or instead facilitate increased isolation where interactions are conveniently edited and created for our specific, personal reality?
Many of the technologies credited with delivering a better tomorrow are already here, invisibly integrated into our lives. Their impact on how we interact, work, shop and move is guaranteed. It is up to us to ensure we harness these new technologies for the advancement of…
Ever increasingly we will add a layer of technology to enhance our lives bringing us more efficiency, enjoyment and control. Mixed realities seen through smart contact lenses or portable AR/VR glasses will guide us through our environment with personalised annotations and updates. AI services that target monotonous aspects of routine and daily tasks whether to manage or motivate will flourish. Users of digital virtual assistants; are set to rise to 1.8b by 2021.
AI has already infiltrated the world of dating. Potential disruptors like Bernie develop knowledge of your preferred ‘type’ before searching and swiping on your behalf, even handling the initial introductions with matches.
Relationships will no longer rely so heavily on physical proximity with technologies like Microsoft Hololens giving us a taste of teleportation. Live language translators developed by Microsoft and Google will break the final wall enabling new connections not previously possible. Our connected lives will no longer be driven by what we can find online but what we can experience as VR platforms develop and content diversifies. The possibility of reliving past events by inserting yourself into a 360-degree home video is an exciting concept but also another potential barrier between citizen and reality.
Technology in the work place is seen by many as both an opportunity and a threat. The fact is we will be working longer into our old age than any previous generation so it may be in our interest to champion the technological advancements that make lives easier. However, it is predicted by McKinsey that such advancements will threaten between 40-75m jobs globally by 2025. In Germany, Adidas have opened The Speedfactory, a manufacturing facility staffed entirely by robots while Budweiser have delivered 50,000 cold cans over 120miles using Uber’s self driving truck service.
A fresh workforce with different definitions of career will carve a new way to the top. Driven by a need for collaborative environments and in possession of a wide base of creative skills they will zig-zag between employers and industries rather than play the waiting game.
Accelerated research in the field of Computational Creativity will impact roles we once thought the reserve of the naturally gifted. In 2013, IBM challenged Watson to develop novel food recipes by analysing chemical compounds and ingredients that were tasty and efficient to produce. Since then we have enjoyed a co-authored novel written in part by AI and enjoyed classical and pop music with the same origin. It is likely our insatiable demand for content and experience will override our lofty concerns of authenticity, that’s if we can even tell the difference.
We love choice and that’s what we will have. Choose passive, automated, frictionless convenience or enjoy high concept, sensory playgrounds that immerse you in a brand, lifestyle or mindset.
Already we have seen a shift towards subscription services for low interest items such as dog food and razors, disrupting historical category strongholds. Amazon Dash buttons enable consumers to reorder products with a simple push of a button. Currently these services require human moderation and management which itself is a task not much more fun than shopping itself. But consumers will increasingly hand over responsibility for stocktake and shopping to bots. Services able to make these decisions for you based on personal data will soon be available - food orders based on health data or inspired by weather and checked against historical or medical preferences aggregated from wearables, smart-fridges and a new landscape of IoT devices.
Decentralised shopping will continue as our ability to experience products and make purchases remotely increases. Flagship stores will exist in the virtual world allowing us to shop with minimal effort. Haptic screens and volumetric projections will bring us closer to the products.
Whatever form the smartphone takes in the future, if it even exists as a physical object at all, the race is on to be the sole platform through which citizens access the world. The blueprint set by WeChat (over 728m active users) is one of aggregated utility, commerce and entertainment, integrated into a service that enables exploration and organisation of the real world.
Transport and travel has always been a focus of those predicting the future - most things we find a drag tend to be. While driverless technology has been available for sometime - the Victoria Line has been ‘driverless’ in parts since 1968 - it feels we have almost arrived at a reality were mass autonomous transport will fill our streets and skies. Automated taxis are on the streets of Singapore and Pittsburgh, ‘Roaboats’ ferry passengers and goods along the canals of Amsterdam, while take-off and landing are the only part of our flights controlled by a human hand.
Many hope the abundance of publicly available, on-demand options will accelerate the transition from privately owned vehicles to a more environmentally friendly future. The city of Tallinn is persevering with a free for all transport system that has seen rides increase 8% while in Dusseldorf commuters can choose to watch 80seconds of ads to earn a €2.60 fare sent to them a barcode on their phone.
For those seeking a cleaner, less chaotic environment the idea of pushing transport underground is appealing. Projects such as CarTube that puts private cars on an automated 50mph track below the city may provide a solution but a difficult one to realise in a populous, ancient city like London. Other famous subterranean projects include Hyperloop, that may break ground in UAE. Despite the imagined convenience of commuting by air in your own private pod, very few would want to look up to a sky busy with traffic. It seems this along with safety and licencing difficulties mean at least some of our predecessors predictions are yet left unfulfilled, for now.