A report by Ericsson ConsumerLab has analysed 10 hot consumer trends of 2018. The quantitative results referred to in the report are based on an online survey of 5,141 advanced internet users in Johannesburg, London, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo.
Respondents were advanced internet users aged 15−69, who have an urban early adopter profile with high average use of new digital technologies such as intelligent voice assistants, virtual reality headsets and augmented reality applications.
Your body is the user interface
Digital tech is beginning to interact on human terms and consumers who already use intelligent voice assistants are leading a behavioral change, the report says.
In fact, more than half of them believe we will use body language, intonation, touch and gestures to interact with tech just like we do with people; two out of three think this will happen in only three years, it adds.
In the near future, we might find that we use wireless earphones all day long – and even sleep with them in too.
It is therefore not surprising that half of all advanced internet users surveyed think that earphones that let you select which people in a room you want to hear clearly, and which people you want to mute, will be mainstream in only three years, adds the report.
81 per cent believe earphones that charge wirelessly, so that you never have to take them out, will be mainstream in only 5 years.
As many as 30 per cent of respondents say new technology makes it impossible to keep their skills up to date.
Almost half of consumers think technology will make learning even advanced professions much quicker.
On the other hand, endeavors to learn and relearn will be a never-ending rat race, with 55 per cent believing that technological change will accelerate the pace of change in skills needed at work.
46 per cent say the internet allows them to learn and forget skills faster than ever. We use skills only at the moment we need them.
Social media promised user-driven two-way communication, giving voice and power to individual consumers and redressing the balance between senders and receivers.
However, social media is now being overrun by one-sided broadcasters, notes Ericsson ConsumerLab report.
Consumers are well aware that social networks are increasingly becoming the scene for standardized broadcast messages that are more designed to spread an opinion than to invite dialogue and reciprocity.
Fifty-five per cent think influential groups use social networks to broadcast their messages, and a similar number think politicians use social media to spread propaganda.
Consumers have a love-hate relationship with advertising. In the study, 40 per cent say they do not mind advertising if it means they get free services, whereas just over a third say they actually dislike ads.
Speaking of AI, 42 per cent think companies will use it to make intelligent advertising that knows exactly how to persuade us to buy things.
However, ads using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will gain app-like functionality and could in essence turn into free versions of the products or services themselves.
For this reason, more than half of current AR or VR users think ads will eventually replace the products being advertised. For example, you might experience a beach destination in a VR ad and realize you do not need the actual vacation anymore, adds the report.
Will machines communicate just like humans if they grow up communicating with us? Or will humans refuse to interact if machines become too similar to us?
In the research, 50 percent of respondents said that not being able to tell the difference between human and machine would spook them out. In other words, the feeling of uncertainty alone would be enough to create a negative reaction.
One in five students and working people in our study believe robots will take their jobs before they retire. Some people certainly look to such a future with trepidation, whereas others may be looking forward to a day that is free from the boredom and stress of the daily work routine.
In any case, those who think robots will take over their jobs are outnumbered by the 32 percent who do not think they need a job to find meaningful things to do in life.
One in three would like having everything handled by intelligent robots, giving them all the free time they could ever want. And almost a quarter of respondents even see a future where intelligent robots take control of everything.
Your photo is a room
New technologies such as light field photography are changing the nature of photos themselves, and we will soon be able to revisit our memories from more angles than a flat picture frame allows.
Three out of four consumers believe taking photos at events such as weddings or birthdays and revisiting them in VR as if you were one of the guests will be commonplace in only five years. As many think we will also do this on holiday and at parties by then.
Also, as many as 55 percent of those currently using AR or VR would also like gloves or shoes that allow you to interact with virtual objects, Ericsson ConsumerLab report notes.
Streets in the air
City streets are getting so crowded that citizens are looking to the skies for relief.
39 per cent think their city is so congested that it needs a road network in the air for drones and flying vehicles. The fact that 4 out of 10 respondents are interested in using flying taxis might reveal more about current frustration levels among city
dwellers than it does about the most economically viable type of transport.
A more potentially likely near-future scenario may be that competition to increase the delivery speed of consumer purchases takes to the air.
For example, almost half of respondents want drones that deliver takeout food so quickly that the dishes are still hot when they arrive. Given the extreme environment of the world’s largest cities, this could happen quicker than you might imagine. In fact 77 percent think most online retailers will use drones in order to minimize delivery times in only 5 years.
The charged future
A connected world will require mobile power. Keeping the power flowing will be as critical as maintaining connectivity; if either goes down, instant disruption will ensue.
For many consumers, their smartphone’s battery doesn’t last a day without dying, and 71 per cent want long-lasting batteries that they don’t need to worry about charging. The same percentage of respondents also want batteries you can fully charge in minutes, just in case.
Consumers have been asking for batteries such as these for years, but now more than 80 percent of respondents believe they will be mainstream in only 5 years. One in two even thinks charging batteries using radio signals in the air around us will be commonplace in only three years.