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Digital Trends: Transient Social, 4D Printing & Everyday Robots

Last week we attended a phenomenal digital trends presentation by the very knowledgeable Emma from Things Unlimited. She reminded us about the amazing way the digital and real worlds are already blending together, and gave us some predictions to keep an eye out for.

  1. Digital Integration

This is pretty ordinary today, you know the drill – your washing machine, fridge or central heating is connected to the Internet. Amazing to think that’s what we can consider normal. The big frontier however, is health. We’re still yet to see someone crack that in a big way – feeding back live readings to a doctor will change millions of lives. There are exciting advances being made, and in a few years you’ll wonder why we didn’t always have health biometric tracking as standard.

  1. New Gen Payments

Beacons and NFC have been a thing for ages but with niche appeal. Now they’re mainstream. Apple Pay, Android Pay, contactless everywhere. That’s going to keep developing – frictionless peer-to-peer transactions are the holy grail. We’ll also continue to see the rise of “social currency” – sharing a brand on social will net you benefits.

  1. Covert Tech

Covert design in the home is to become a huge trend due to its many uses and practicalities.

We have fridges that can re-order groceries, and various smartwatches. However – are we ready for the next level? Google Glass is a prime example – it was a truly forward thinking product but too far-out for people to see as useable. Having tech up close and personal may be something that we’re just not used to yet.

Partly it’s to do with whether the product is aesthetically pleasing or not. A smartwatch is more designed and subtle than something like Glass, but had Glass been a contact lens you can be sure it wouldn’t have been rejected in the same way. In a similar vein, some wearables are seen as luxuries still, but that’ll change as we get more powerful and versatile devices.

  1. Practical Printing

Doctors will soon be able to print a heart and grow stem cells around it, and can already create models of organs to aid in reconstructive surgery and create 3D printed, beating, heart organoids. As well as this and you can create 3D printed sugar cubes and even make-up can be printed.. There’s also 4D printing where the item created can change over time or as it’s exposed to different environments. These creations have wide-reaching implications for future of building materials, cosmetics, healthcare and even the clothes we wear.

  1. Personalisation

Brands will be more discerning and bid on micropayments facilities to use ad-space (such as digital billboards) for a short but valuable time slot. They’ll be more targeted and effective as you’re not constantly being bombarded by all sorts. It will rely on the public ceding control of location data in some form – a prospect which opens a world of possibility, and a massive can of worms.

  1. Transient Social

The trend for “impermanent” social means that there’s more use of Meerkat, Snapchat and Periscope. Brands can use this for one-off content and is especially useful if working with an influencer. Due to the nature, it is less quantifiable in terms of use, but it is also more “exclusive” for followers.

  1. Everyday Robots

We already have exoskeletons helping with heavy lifting, but we’re going to see full robots in a wide variety of places. Think drones that can track forest fires, underwater “bio-cleaners” that can clean up oil spills and even window washing robots. Check out DARPA for more info, or look at this innovation.