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Future Gazers on the Terrace: Wellness, Cognitive Creativity & AR

Predicting the future is something humans have always been fascinated with but what the future holds for the industry is a tricky one to fathom, unless you know where to look.

Izzy Ashton

Assistant Editor, BITE

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Abraham Lincoln once said, "The best way to predict your future is to create it." This was the quote that Nicola Kemp, BITE's Managing Editor chose to open with as the moderator of Twitter's inaugural Future Gazers on the Terrace panel discussion. Predicting the future is something humans have always been fascinated with but what the future holds for the industry is a tricky one to fathom, unless you know where to look.

Joining Kemp on stage were three future gazers, each with a different take on how the industry will change over the next 18 months. From sustainability to wellness, the growing demand for AR and the super charging of creativity, the conversation focused on how creativity and technology are not mutually exclusive pursuits.

Below are a few key takeaways from the discussion:

Brands are creating new behavioural habits

Lucie Greene, Worldwide Director of the Innovation Group at Wunderman Thompson explored the future of wellness and consumer's relationship to it. She believes a new economy is forming around wellbeing, explaining, "every category is being redefined through a wellness lens." Greene believes that wellness is "enmeshed with sustainability" a blend that has result in many brands "creating new behaviourial habits." She cited the brand by HumanKind, a refillable beauty offering, as a prime example.

This behavioural change was also focused on by Armando Ortiz, Extended Reality and Mobile Practice Leader in North America for IBM iX. He explored the impact of the world of AR when it comes to consumer purcahse decisions. With new branded offerings, consumers are changing their shopping habits, as well as their expectations. Examples such as Sephora's AR make-up app, L'Oréal's Modiface app and the Nike fit app are just a few ways Ortiz demonstrated the shift.

Every category is being redefined through a wellness lens.

Lucie Greene

Empathetic technology

Ortiz also highlighted IBM's work in infusing the technology they create with higher levels of empathy. But he was cautious as he said, "You have to be responsbile in how you steer that technology into the world; empathy doesn't just happen."

Chris Duffey, Head of AI Innovation & Strategy at Adobe lifted the lid on the power of 'cognitive creativity', the super charged creativity that comes from a combination of human and machine. This combination, Duffey outlined, is resulting in "empathy being built into the technology." He cited the work of Thomas Malone in his book Super Intelligence where he writes, "[it's] not human in the loop, but computer in the group."

Greene believes that this level of empathetic direction from technology can only come about through diversity of thinking. She outlined that we need "more diverse, intersectional teams designing these experiences."

Ortiz's main takeaway for the day focused on the power of empathy when it comes to connecting technology with human behaviour: "through empathy we'll have more action." But, said Ortiz, this interaction can only occur through proper, holistic training of the AI itself: "AI is being trained to understand humans better so it can interact with us more successfully."

Technology doesn't need to be dystopian. It can have real world benefits.

Armando Ortiz

Consumer anxiety surrounding technology is rising

All three speakers highlighted the consumer anxiety that stems from technology and innovation moving at, as Ortiz said, "breakneck pace." As brand offerings have sped up, so have our expectations for speed itself. While humans have always been fearful of change and the speed at which it occurs, as Duffey outlined, "with change comes opportunity."

This ever increasing pace however means Greene believes there will be "a backlash when it comes to on-demand culture." She highlighted Gen Z's more apparent awareness of the impact of technology, on both their mental health and on the environment. Apps like Happy Not Perfect are prime examples of the next generation regaining control over the technology at their disposal. This is the generation that the Innovation Group believe are the "next super creatives," a reality that they have explored in their latest report.

For Ortiz, consumers need to recognise the positive benefits technology can have on their lives. "Technology doesn't need to be dystopian," he said. "It can have real world benefits."

Greene's takeaway for the day was around logistics, referencing back to her earlier point around the damage consumerism is inflicting on the environment. She believes that real, sustainable change can only come about through "innovation in logistics" something companies like Loop are doing by making sustainability the easier option for consumers.

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