Augmentation, amplification and acceleration – we’re supercharging our lives with digital and organic means. We’re seeing new forms of entertainment and redefining realms of experience through the lens of digital, but also stretching our physical limits and mental mechanics by finding ways to boost our physical functions.
The changes making this possible are largely technological, but also mental: We’re becoming more responsive to digital fashion, intangible purchases, new ways of altering our moods or bodily responses and even to new layers of information, layered on top of our physical one. We can choose between alternative realities, or choose phygital, where both physical and digital experiences and spaces are intertwined as co-existing layers. And phygital needs designers too.
Supercharged is led by young generations – visual-first generations – for whom all this comes naturally. For most, the activities are empowering, recreational and even educational. To cater to the supercharged individual, commercial actors can take an experimental and immersive approach, which includes experiential pop-ups, strong visual elements and installation-based concepts emphasising unique experiences.
In search of new experiences, new experiential digital platforms are created. Immersive art projects engage large audiences and fashion houses collaborate with game companies to provide intangible fashion purchases. Esports is booming, and products and services will look beyond seeing and hearing to cater to all our senses, as we are constantly looking for new experiences and sensations.
Digital fashion has seen a first with Iridescence, a collaboration between digital fashion pioneers The Fabric and artist Johanna Jaskowska. The collection, which exists entirely in a digital realm, sold for $9,500.
Digital fashion can be offline, as well: Flowing Water, Standing Time is the name of two robotic dresses by designer Ying Gao. Using sensors, cameras and a Raspberry PI computer, the dresses respond to colors in their surroundings, creating a “liquid and chameleon-like” sense of constant motion and color changes, as described by the designer.
Louis Vuitton is entering the realm of esports by designing a series of digital and physical assets for Riot Games, makers of League of Legends. Throughout 2020, Louis Vuitton will work with Riot Games to create assets in connection to the World Cup of League of Legends. Louis Vuitton joins Mastercard and Dell in supporting the biggest esport in the world, and both parties are looking for an ongoing partnership.
London acts as a hotbed of immersive experiences – going far beyond dinner and a show. Les Enfants Terribles, a London theatre, offers an experience that acts out the birthday party of George II in 1734, promising drama and intrigue for visitors. Park Chinois, known for its cabaret, and its latest show takes visitors of the club to 1930’s Shanghai, featuring everything from acrobats and dancers to comedy.
Le Petit Chef has an intriguing approach to storytelling through cuisine: there is a six-course taster menu designed to use unique textures, tastes, smells and ingredients to transport you around the world, as well as a 3D animated film projected onto visitors’ tables while the dining proceeds.
10 Only for you
Personalization is gaining new ground with the surrounding reality becoming subject to customization and selection: AR allows us to see what others can’t, while solutions to ignore unwanted messaging like advertising are being introduced. Contextuality is key – AR is about enriching the world around us, and personalization done right is new services set in a personal context. To differentiate, service providers need to cater to the individual amid fierce competition – it is a competition for the attention we have left to give.
Frieze London art fair installed augmented reality art in Regent’s Park in London. The hovering ice slabs, by South Korean artist Koo Jeong A, were visible only through an app on your phone. They were commissioned by Acute Art, who seek artists that combine new media and technology. The work, located in a royal park, acted as commentary to the boundaries of art with the added benefit of removing the need for shipping a physical sculpture.
Tinder is elevating data to offer a better matching experience to its users. The app saw a 26 percent increase in matches during ‘Swipe Night’, a choose-your-own-adventure style piece of interactive content, and are looking to make the experiment global in 2020. As they are playing through the adventure, users are making moral and practical choices, and this data will be used to match them with Tinder users that share their values.
Rather than bring digital realms to life, IRL Glasses are designed to be the solution to a world of screens. The glasses block only digital screens from our field of vision, bringing focus back to the real world and eliminating mostly advertiser-driven distractions from our lunch breaks and strolls around town. What initially started as a concept is now becoming an actual product, driven by a successful Kickstarter campaign. According to the creators, the glasses are meant to spark conversation about screen time and how much of that is enough in our lives.
Mapping and location platform services leader HERE has teamed up with Bose to provide location-based audio technologies. The collaboration enables rich contextual experiences and makes creation of AR services incorporating audio and location easier to create for developers.
11 The boosted being
We’re augmenting a super-version of ourselves. While we’re amplifying our lives by digital means, the core of all our experiences is organic. As we look to supercharge our organic selves, the interest in functional nutrition and nourishment is soaring and new substances are moving to the realm of legal and acceptable behavior. Hormones are being commodified: for instance, companies are providing dopamine rushes through games, apps and social media.
Unlike drugs, being boosted is not about escapism and losing control, but more about effects: Consumers are looking for specific and targeted effects that elevate our performance or experience. Being transparent about privacy, health effects and the motivations behind a given commercial venture will be key to having success with new experiential products and services.
Hyundai has introduced a concept for providing multi-sensory ‘mood bursts’ to drivers to help alleviate tiredness, calm the driver or otherwise help the mental state of the driver. By monitoring things with sensors, the car could become aware of its driver’s mental state and react accordingly by adjusting seat posture, scent, light, sound and temperature. For example, if the driver is at risk of losing concentration, the car triggers an alert burst, or if feeling stressed, the car supplies a calming burst.
Microdosing – the practice of taking small, carefully controlled amounts of illegal drugs – is assuming new forms, as Acabada is introducing sportswear that time-releases CBD by utilising microencapsulation. The release of cannabidiol is very slow, with small amounts being released over the course of 40 workouts.
The effects of microdosing are being studied, and it seems like it offers benefits. The participants of a recent trial, involving LSD or mushrooms, reported connectedness, creativity and happiness on the microdose day, and more productivity and focus the following day. There were downsides, too: the positive effects fade soon, so the dosing would have to be daily for continuous benefits.
We might be close to seeing a safe alternative to booze, as scientist David Nutt is nearing completion of an alcosynth, a synthetic way to stimulate Gaba receptors in the brain, which would result in tipsiness without the adverse effects. The work behind Alcarelle, the commercial name of the innovation, dates back all the way to 1983 and is now in its funding phase.
- →How could you supercharge an experience related to your business?
- →Has your company considered phygital – the relationship of the immaterial and the physical experience? How could they support each other?
- →New channels are constantly being introduced and the surge of content is accelerating. Are you taking part already? What role will you have?
- →Content curation is a rising topic – how might your business achieve focus in its content-related efforts?