Today’s connected consumer is unpredictable, messy and awash in contradictions. We love our devices and want them to enhance our experiences in increasingly exciting ways. Culturally, there’s a growing consciousness of tech’s ability to distract and our need to be more present in our real life with real people. Yet still, we can’t let go of our ability to keep checking up on our world, our work, our home, our health and more whenever we want.
These tensions and contradictions were on full display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January as providers unveiled their latest technology innovations. As I’ve reflected further on them -- and others that have been unveiled since then -- I can’t help but think about the underlying human motivations that influence our behaviors and foster our technology-enabled lifestyles. It made me ask myself: Can technology help us find this elusive balance of digital detoxification and content-rich experiences? Can tech be used to keep ourselves in check? The answer is yes.
Tech That Checks Us In
While a lot can be said about needing to drop technology to be more present, immersive experiences and dynamic storytelling can bring the present moment into focus like never before. Recent innovations are bringing us closer to content in more immersive ways. Of course, displays are getting bigger and higher resolution, but those are being complemented by new forms of pixels -- like the INTEL 3D modeling that teased a taste of VR-like experiences without a headset. Next generation user-interfaces are making gaming feel more liberating than ever before -- from VR shoes that enable lifelike walking to the mind-bending Birdly simulator that quite literally made me squeal in delight as I flapped my arms flying around a dinosaur world. All of this raises the bar on what storytelling even means and how brands can create memorable experiences people love.
Tech That Helps Us Check Out
Today’s connected consumer knows they need to, well, disconnect. And, we’re seeing technology that purposely focuses on freeing people from their devices, enabling them to be more present. In-home concierge robots to take over menial tasks and enable more meaningful moments with family. VR-enabled meditation to better look inward at ourselves. Body scanning and articulate massage chairs that can not just rub tired muscles but align backs and give delicate finger massages. There were tools to help us manage ourselves, like hardware that literally locks up your family’s devices to reduce screen time. Brands have the opportunity to help people in their own goals of hands-free and increasingly screen-less moments to be mindful and connect with others in the real world.
Tech That Lets Us Check Up
Connectivity, sensors and data combine to give us real-time checkups on anything in our lives. Smart home technology now touches virtually every aspect of your home and every member of your family (including pets!). We’re seeing next-level body metrics enabled from any device that touches your body, light wave therapy for pain, infinite ways to help monitor your sleep and pet and people wearables that don’t just track but reward good behavior. Whether it’s your home, your health or your job, people want to stay connected to the things they care about. With 5G on the horizon, edge devices and better-integrated wearables, we can expect this connectivity to be enhanced as personal data ecosystems become commonplace.
With all this choice, people will craft a technology enabled lifestyle that matches their desires. We can expect that consumers will want to check in, check out and check up as their needs shift in any given day. The brands that will thrive will embrace these contradictions and be able to quickly pivot to meet consumers on these evolving desire lines -- even if that means helping them put their devices down to check out (even if only for a few minutes).
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