Ok so here are our thoughts for 2015, how will savvy, consumer-centred brands overcome technology push and champion consumer pull, how can emerging metaproducts have a sustained, life enhancing future beyond the initial flurry of early adopter excitement?
Data and security
Data security has become a growing issue over the last few years, and the recent hacking at Sony Pictures reminds us of how integral data security is to overall business success. For companies, data integrity has become a real challenge, exacerbated by the rise of the mobile workforce. As we live an increasing proportion of our lives online, we’re more aware than ever of how much data we produce, and of the risk that our privacy and safety could be compromised both in the digital and real worlds.
We have already seen security features becoming more prevalent on devices, such as Touch ID from Apple and we’re likely to see more security measures introduced in 2015. There are several emerging developments such as the introduction of an iris recognition system, which is replacing the relatively insecure password system. There are some products that have privacy at their core, such as the Blackphone but such extreme measures tend to compromise usability.
2015 will be about striking the balance between safety and accessibility. We are connected to technological devices more and more, and with the emergence of the Internet of Things, contactless payments, like ApplePay, and the growth of the private cloud, security will be at the fore in 2015.
Colours and materials
We’re likely to see soft and sophisticated colour palettes on the agenda, with slightly off-the-centre hues. Deep, dark colours (and greys) on one end, mingling with muted bright accents.
We saw the start of uptake of metallic shades of copper, rose and old gold towards the end of last year, we anticipate the launch of the Apple Watch Editions will accelerate the use of jewellery inspired metals as rival brands attempt to bask in the glow….
Vendors are starting to add new dimensions to products to enhance the end-users’ experience. Sensors will be networking and taking on more responsibilities and tasks, letting us, the users, sit back. Sensors could be doing anything from little conveniences such as protecting our phones in case they fall (Apple has been awarded a patent for a mechanism to do just that), to interacting within more complex systems gathering data as they do. We won’t even notice their presence… unless they disappear.
Artificial intelligence and the rise of the machines
Theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, recently rekindled the debate on whether our search for improved artificial intelligence will one day lead to autonomously “thinking” machines that will take over from humans. We won’t venture into this conversation but for what might happen in 2015, here are a couple of thoughts.
Artificial intelligence (A.I.) interfaces have become commonplace on phones and tablets in recent years with the likes of Apples ‘Siri’ and Googles ‘Okay, Google’. Now Microsoft is moving into this space with ‘Cortanta’, which claims a smarter level of A.I with the ability to not only respond to you and your environment but actively learn from them as well. With wearable tech poised to be the golden child of 2015 these forms of A.I. will push into new products and new aspects of life and, in some cases, will become the main form of interaction with a product. Google Glass (#glasshole) is a clear really good example of when this goes very bad.
Newer more humanised user interfaces like this have many benefits other than improving product/user relationships and offering smarter assistance and insight when you need it. However, it also raises potential questions and concerns around trust and security. For A.I.s like this to be optimised they needs complete access to your digital and physical world through cameras, microphones, pulse reading, emails, calendars etc. For them to be successful with consumer a line needs to be walked between privacy and usability. Whether this will develop into a wider security issue, or even into Steven Hawking’s dystopia, remains to be seen.
We expect more interesting models, as designers begin to rethink the user experience of travelling in a driverless vehicle. We’re likely to see designers think about how driverless vehicles can better serve our demands as this technology creates new opportunities in our work and personal lives.
What excites us is not the products per se, but the potential for a circle of ‘self-improvement’ – we hope that the proliferation of real-time data will offer the potential for innovative service brands to transform traditional business models to one that delivers real-time service improvements and more personalised customer experiences.
The noise around 3D printing will focus on the ways brands can offer exciting new consumer personalisation opportunities. Expect to see a growth of 3D printing in ecommerce and retail environments this year.