This month, we’ve been examining new digital experiences emerging as a result of technological advancements. We’ve also been investigating the cost of the technology however, on both the planet and the individual, and how attitudes towards it are shifting.
We’re also looking forward to IFA Berlin. Over the next few days, the team will be keeping a close eye on any exciting innovations and trends. We will be sharing our predictions, observations, and key takeaways from the show, helping you to understand the future of consumer electronics and home technology.
Our collective awareness of the importance of mental health and emotional fluency is increasing. As we better understand how our brains work and how our lived experiences can impact our moods and feelings, we are beginning to foster healthier behaviours.
In the UK, 25% of adults will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year and only 1 in 8 of those adults will seek help. In response to this, an array of new services are emerging to help, guide and educate us.
Reducing stigmas, starting conversations and increasing access to therapy and treatment are just some of the initiatives being engaged to encourage better mental health management. But with healthcare systems under strain, it is often independent companies who are providing these services.
As we continue to care for and nurture our emotional and mental health alongside our physical health, what new, blended health management tools will be developed in-line with our evolving consumer psyche? And will the majority of the support needed continue to be provided by private companies?
Medicine has traditionally followed a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Now, advances in data science and technology enable personalised prescriptions, tailored to an individual’s symptoms or genetics for more effective treatment.
Current personalisation methods analyse our bodies and our symptoms to create a unique medicines - such as cancer treatment designed to target a specific tumour’s proteins. This is also happening within the supplement market - vitamin brand Vitl Health use an individual’s DNA, diet and lifestyle factors to inform recommended combinations of vitamins.
In the future, our medicines and treatments will continue to be tailored to our genetics and pre-dispositions to certain diseases. The NHS has pioneered this shift by undertaking the 100,000 Genomes Project, which aims to further to understand the human genomes of people with rare and infectious diseases as well as common cancers.
As we continue to unravel and access more data on our genetics and biologies, the personalised medicine industry will continue to evolve. How will more targeted and individualised treatments impact our healthcare landscape?
Augmented reality, layering computer generated information, such as images or sounds, over real world scenarios is expanding in the home offering practical solutions for digital retail.
Brands are using AR to allow consumers to interact with virtual versions of their products. An experience that is both exciting and practical as it allows consumers to ‘test’ products out in their own home in a novel way - to try before they buy, digitally.
One well known example is IKEA Place, an app which allows consumers to see what a piece of furniture would look like in their homes. Apple also release their new products in AR so consumers can experience them within 3D space.
This technology is being utilised across many other industries, such as homeware and fashion, allowing brands to interact with their customers like never before. How will it continue to disrupt and shape the future of digital commerce?
The daily decisions we make have a direct impact our carbon footprints. Our transport, food and clothing all represent conscious choices. While there is general awareness of ‘better’ and ‘worse’ choices, the specifics are often lacking or poorly understood.
As the need to reduce our carbon footprint becomes more pertinent, some companies are working to make the reasoning more tangible and accessible to help consumers make more informed, calculated decisions.
Some brands are introducing carbon labels on food and clothes and helping consumers to weigh-up certain decisions against others, similar to calorie counting apps. ASOS now has a ‘Responsible’ filter which identifies clothes that are made from recycled or sustainable materials, and Organic Basics have launched a low impact version of their website, reducing data and energy usage and informing consumers of the metrics of their online activity in real time.
As technology within this sector continues to grow and advance, how will this change the way that we manage our carbon footprint in the future?
In the UK, telecommunications regulator Ofcom estimates that 3-4 year old children spend on average 3 hours a day in front of a screen. As kids grow older, this number rises, reaching 6.5 hours a day for teenagers.
The long term effects of screen time on young people are still largely unknown. There is speculation however that it is disrupting their development, both socially and mentally, as well as leaving them vulnerable to safety threats. Some are also linking excessive screen time to the rise in mental health problems amongst these generations. Understandably, this leads to anxiety amongst parents.
Despite this, technology has its benefits. Instead of trying to remove screen time, we should be helping young people to forge healthier, safer relationships with their tech. To do this, social platforms and tech giants are starting to create kid-friendly platforms and tools, designed specifically for younger users. This includes Facebook’s Messenger Kids, and Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids Edition.
Technology provides an abundance of opportunities for young people, including education, entertainment, and social interactions, but it isn’t without its dangers. Going forward, how can technology continue to relieve the screen time anxiety amongst parents, and help young people to build healthier, happier relationships with their devices?