Looking to the future | Evening Standard
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“The rise of extreme sports took place among Generation X, born 1979-1994,” says William Higham, managing director of trend forecasting agency The Next Big Thing and author of a trends guide of the same name. “Now that they’re growing up and are seeking opportunities to feel something again.” …
Yes, if you wondered what on earth our mobile phones might be able to do next, the shape your next holiday should take or which make-up style is on its way, then we have the answers, because there are a host of London trend predictors who have it all mapped out.
And, according to those experts, it’s time to go back to the future.
While technology is going to keep rushing us forward at work and play (we’ll be stroking screens instead of clicking mice, inhaling rather than eating our food and having techno-sex using intelligent toys), we will also be applying the brakes, slowing down our lifestyles and reverting to those halcyon days of work when we all had our own office.
Although, don’t expect the salaries to go with it – wages will be taking a distinctly downward turn.
If that isn’t enough to terrify you, at the weekends we will be seeking new experiences and taking sports to the extreme, and instead of having long, relaxing summer breaks, we’ll be cramming thrills and adventure into a few short days.
Here the top futurologists provide the full rundown of life’s oncoming trends.
THINKING WILL GO SLOW
According to Richard Watson, author of Future Files, the value of slow thinking, achieved by good sleep, switching from digital to analogue technologies during parts of the day, and having massages, will be realised “as we can only take on so much at one time”.
UK sociologist David Moxon says average attention spans are down to five minutes from 12 a decade ago. We suffer from TMI — too much information — and often do not live wholly in the present.
THE MOUSE WILL DISAPPEAR
Voice activation is already around but the mouse will be gone by about 2016, says Watson.
We will ask Google a question rather than type it, the implication being that we can talk faster than we can type.
Microsoft has also been working on Surface, a system which will allow us to type with our fingers on a touch screen instead of a keyboard.
OFFICES REPLACE OPEN-PLAN
Research in Australia indicates that noisy, open-plan offices lead not only to health problems (high blood pressure and stress) but also low concentration levels and productivity, resulting in a high staff turnover.
Traditional, private offices avoid this, both at work and home. One US developer is working on building homes with his ‘n’ hers offices to help create personal environments.
THE MOBILE PHONE TAKES OVER
One in five US homes have no fixed phone lines and the idea of using mobiles instead will come to the UK too.
People do not want to spend more for an overlapping service if they already have a phone in their pocket, says Daniel Burris, CEO of Burris Research.
Consequently, the mobile will become more than just a phone. Within two years it will have increased bandwidth, unlimited storage and will even be able to project images on the wall. In this way people will be able to hold webinars (web-based seminars) and business meetings, all from a handheld device.
EARN LESS, MOVE MORE
Expect pay rates to plummet towards those of Eastern Europe — or perhaps you’ll become a migrant worker in the Gulf or Asia. Financial forecaster Fred Harrison says: “The Gulf and Asia will attract talented Brits, this exodus will be spurred on by the failure of UK production to recover to 2007 levels.
Those left in the UK will be caught between the low pay of East European workers and cheap goods from China, which will drive down the average UK wage.”
AT YOUR DESK …
CHOCOLATE SALES WILL ROCKET
Global sales of chocolate are forecast to grow by 85 per cent in value terms by 2011, according to Dr Morgaine Gaye, food futurologist.
There will be a strong growth with a focus on health, high cacao content and ethical sourcing as consumers become more aware of production methods. We will also mix everything with chocolate, including bacon and other meats.
BUT YOU’LL TRY TO INHALE IT
Dr Gaye says we will use our olfactory senses when consuming indulgence foods like desserts, chocolate and alcohol.
The Le Whif chocolate inhaler was launched in June 2009 and there are already two prototypes — the “smell server” from AromaJet in America and the I-Aroma in Japan — for USPs made with six base oils which can send smells over the internet.
Rumour has it that NTT Communications in Japan is researching fragrance cartridges for mobile phones as well.
TAILORING REPLACES DESIGNER
No more “it” bags or shoes. Everyone will have bespoke clothing due to a rise in websites such as dressmejoyce.com and asuitthatfits.com.
“The rule of fast-fashion retailers will come to an end,” says Ruth Marshall-Johnson, senior editor of Think Tank at future trends analysis agency WGSN.
“It comes from a desire for solidity at a time when our lives feel a bit more chaotic than we might like.”
Find an old photo, of your grandfather in the 1930s, for example, and copy the look head-to-toe. This is memory dressing.
“We have had mixed-year dressing,” says Marshall-Johnson, “which is combining styles from different eras into one outfit. Now it’s about taking a whole look from one specific era. Again, people are searching for a story and sense of connection with clothing.”
MAKE-UP GOES LUMINOUS
“We’ve had metallics before, but this is the next level, using technology developed in car manufacturing to make skin almost reflective,” says Marshall-Johnson.
The trend is being driven by the advent of high-definition TV, which shows up every flaw.
Look out for HiP (high-intensity pigment) coming soon from L’Oréal.
HANG UP YOUR SKIS
The Alps will see 30 per cent less snow by 2030 according to the Holiday 2030 report launched by Halifax Travel Insurance, meaning Londoners will take fewer ski holidays.
The report reveals that global average temperatures could go up by as much as two degrees and sea levels could be 72mm higher.
Tourism futurologist Dr Ian Yeoman says this will affect coastal tourism too — on the Côte d’Azur the authorities will have to address beach erosion by moving buildings back from the shoreline. So don’t invest in a beach hut either …
BOOK A MICROBREAK INSTEAD
Businesses will provide for people wanting to take short breaks and fill them with original activities — sleeping under the stars, extreme sports or travelling somewhere exotic like Zambia.
Consumers will seek instant gratification in the form of new experiences. Dr Yeoman says, “However short the break, the key will be: do you want to tell the story of it afterwards?”
TAKE IT TO EXTREMES
Illicit and illegal extreme sports will become popular among thirtysomethings.
“The rise of extreme sports took place among Generation X, born 1979-1994,” says William Higham, managing director of trend forecasting agency The Next Big Thing and author of a trends guide of the same name.
“Now that they’re growing up and are seeking opportunities to feel something again.”
Higham lists ghost-riding’ (getting out of your car while it’s travelling, climbing on top and then getting back in) and Tube-surfing’ (sliding down the metal surface between Tube escalators on a skate board), as examples.
CYBERDILDONICS WILL CAUSE A BUZZ
Computer-controlled sex toys and intelligent sex technology is emerging. “The future will feature vibrating cyber sex suits’,” says Higham.
“Maybe we’re heading towards the Orgasmatron featured in Woody Allen’s 1970s sci-fi comedy Sleeper.”
The new sex toys will involve putting little buzzers in intimate parts of the body that can be activated remotely by a boyfriend or girlfriend, whenever they want.
SLEEP TAKES OVER FROM SEX
City folk will soon see the necessity of not watching junk TV late at night, early bedtime and decent beds.
Londoners are sleep-deprived leaving them clumsy and unhappy — social observers have even coined the term TATT syndrome — Tired All The Time.
After all, Americans now get only 6.9 hours per night on average, far less than the nine in 1900.
In Australia there were four sleep clinics in 1985, there are now 70.
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