HELLO 2014. FIVE PREDICTIONS FOR THE YEAR AHEAD.
Happy New Year! First week back in the office and what better way to start the year than by contributing to the plethora of predictions for 2014. So here are my five based around the ways in which we are redefining our relationship with technology…
1. EVERYONE’S A LITTLE BIT CYBORG
‘Wearable technology’ will come of age with the triumvirate of the Fuel wrist band, Google Glass and the iWatch doing for wearable technology what iTunes + iPod did for MP3s. Around these three pillars will buzz niche sports and health related offerings e.g. Butterfleye’s Instabeat (a waterproof heads-up monitor that attaches to swimming goggles to show the wearer’s heart rate), Veristride (a shoe insole that provides feedback about the owner’s movements) and Smartmissimo (a ‘smart electrical muscle stimulator’ for athletes).
2. THE FULL LENGTH DATA MIRROR
The ‘quantified self’ is a trend that has been bubbling under for a while, but the rise of wearable technology will give it new impetus with the greater availability of data from constant monitoring and the breadth of phenomena able to be monitored. Brands like Tic Trac, who provide an analysis platform for all your personal data feeds, are ideally placed to take advantage of this. For those who are already familiar with monitoring their physical behaviours, the next step is to look inwards e.g. Shadow is an app that helps users to record and remember their dreams and the Melon headband and allows wearers to track, monitor and understand their mental focus during a range of activities by measuring brain activity.
3. MORE MINDFULNESS
As technology gains an ever greater presence in our lives we are increasingly subject to the constant demands and distractions of being plugged into an ‘always on’ world. ‘Slow Living’ and the ‘Joy of Missing Out’ responded by changing behaviours and opting out. 2014’s approach is to embrace Mindfulness as a practical way to help regain balance and focus. Evidence comes from the fact that mindfulness training has been embraced by organisations as diverse as Google, Transport for London, PricewaterhouseCoopers; that by the end of 2013 Google searches for ‘mindfulness’ had hit an all-time high due to greater grass roots involvement and that last Saturday I did a one-day introductory course and have been feeling more focused ever since.
4. VALUING OUR DIGITAL SOUL
The internet has always worked through an unspoken Faustian exchange: our data soul for unlimited knowledge and digital pleasure. However, just when it was assumed the public had permanently acquiesced to the deal, Snowden forced us to question whether the status quo is acceptable. 2014 is the year when we decide the value we place on our data. Privacy will be a competitive differentiator for companies. Personal data will become a currency as businesses like Handshake help people regain ownership of their data from companies who collect it and then sell it on to companies who wish to use it.
5. A CONVERSATION OF PICTURES
Pictures are no longer just a record of the past, but increasingly a message in the present. Get a txt asking you what you’re doing while you’re eating? Use Google Glass to send a picture of your meal back. This was Sergey Brin’s moment of epiphany – realising how simple and direct communication was without text because talking ‘pictures’, not words, brings you directly into the other’s experience. The role of the image is changing, fuelling the rise of SnapChat, Instagram, etc… 2014 is the year when brands are going to be speak more ‘visual’ and engage their consumers in this conversation of pictures.