This month, our design and strategy teams have been keeping a close eye on the summer’s most exciting launches and releases. We’ve covered IFA, Europe’s biggest trade exhibition for consumer electronics and home appliances, and highlighted emerging products and trends from the industry. We’ve also looked at Apple’s latest launch event and analysed their new product and service offerings. In addition to all of this, we’ve also released our own new design from project Unity - a speculative smart home series which encapsulates our thoughts on the future of technology.
In this month’s edition of Meaning Monthly, we’ve included some of our favourite themes which emerged from IFA this year. To see the rest of our coverage, head over to our Instagram.
TCL released two new ‘paper-like’ tablets this year at IFA. They are mid-range, but boast eye health features, helping users to protect their vision. Both tablets use high quality NXTVISION displays which flicker less frequently. They also include reflective screens which repurpose natural light, making it the world’s first “zero eye strain” display.
There are also intelligent eye health features built into the software. This includes better automatic brightness and tonality adjustments, as well as a signal which alerts the user when they are too close to the screen.
Over recent years, Lenovo Smart Displays have helped define smart home technology. This year at IFA however, they stripped back the technology and released the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential - a home assistant that is less smart by design.
The device still has Google’s voice assistant built in, but unlike previous models, it has a super simplified no-touch LED which displays only the time and temperature. This is one of many ‘essentialist’ devices currently hitting the tech market, signalling a consumer shift to more muted technology.
TCL’s MoveTime Family Watch is a smart wearable designed specifically for older adult users. Features include integrated fall detection, “safe zone” boundaries which notify when the user ventures outside of the zone, heart rate alerts, a built-in SOS button, and enlarged icons. Family members can access this data, helping them to keep a close eye on loved ones from afar.
As an industry that typically negates senior users, this is a pioneering move for a consumer tech giant. Technological developments and cultural shifts mean that these forms of monitoring are becoming less stigmatised, limiting and intrusive every year, and we are excited to see how this will continue to expand in the future.
In an effort to reduce the consumption of single use PPE, Haier’s brand Hoover have announced two new washing machine modes specifically targeted at cleaning masks: Mask Sanitization mode, which runs for 110 minutes at 60C, and Mask Refresh mode, which lasts 45 minutes at 40C.
This feature offers immediate potential to help stop the spread of COVID-19 with Hoover’s Smart Laundry machine owners able to instantly download these new modes. As the consumer need for sterility increases, we look forward to seeing the innovations that will emerge from this sector next year at IFA.
Early previews of LG’s new rotating phone, coined the LG Wing, were released at IFA this year. The Wing is a dual screen device with a swivelling screen, forming a non-archetypal T-shape display.
This is the first phone created under LG’s Explorer Project, which is “aimed at discovering new ways to interact with mobile devices.” As brands race to create phones that flip, twist, and fold, it is clear that we will see more physical and spacial interactions as our devices move beyond the smart slate and monolith.