From this pandemic two kinds of changes will continue to play out: COVID-19 “bumps” and more enduring behavioral shifts. Many brands are looking to emerging technology and trying to take their best bets. What new habits will stick? What new use cases will be invented from existing technology? 

It’s anyone’s guess, but here are my top three (slightly sci-fi sounding) predictions: 

MAGIC MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHERE I DIAL INTO MY NEXT CONFERENCE CALL 

Mirror offers interative at-home-workouts. Kohler’s and Capstone’s connected mirrors are Alexa-enabled for voice-activated flossing videos.

Looking ahead 

  • “Our goal is not to be the next treadmill in your life, our goal is to be the next screen in your home,” explains Mirror founder Brynn Putman (TechCrunch, 06/19
  • Capstone, offers a Connected Smart Mirror. It’s designed for the bathroom, bedroom or hallway and allows users to “turn on the lights and start the coffee maker” or “jump straight into work-mode … to check their commute time or review a presentation in Google Drive.” (Forbes, 05/2020

Picture this

A world where it’s not just superheros that report into their boss via a virtual dashboard. Could smart mirrors become the new modality for virtual stand-ups? Will we be putting our yoga mats AND our standing desks up to our smart mirrors soon? 

COMMUTING TO THE CLOUD WITH AVATARS AND AR

Employees at eXp Realty, a $610 million real estate company, don’t go into a physical office. Instead they work from a virtual island.

Looking ahead 

  • In spring of 2019 Microsoft made its Dynamics 365 Remote Assist tool available not only through HoloLens glasses but on Android phones. The offering allows workers to more easily prototype remotely, interacting and annotating with project plans in a holographic format. (The Verge, 02/2019
  • Spaces is an app that employees can download to join Zoom, Skype and Hangout calls from customizable VR environments. Even West Elm is in on the action with home lenses that allow individuals to call into company happy hours from idelic island homes (Refinery29, 03/2020)

Picture this

We may soon be living a portion of our lives inside a SimCity of sorts. Could Rent the Runway start offering virtual wardrobe subscriptions for our avatar selves? Will we be adopting holographic puppies to round out our pixel-based dream homes? 

FROM “TAP TO PAY” TO “TAP FOR TEMP” CHECKS

Credit card companies have long been pushing contactless pay features. Hong Kong International Airport is testing new disinfectant chambers.

Looking ahead 

  • While wearable tech and security check-point verification systems might seem worlds apart, soon they may serve similar purposes: setting a new standard for sanitation precautions.
  • Already Stanford is teaming up with Fitbit and Scripts research to develop algorithms to detect early signs of viral infection. Data points including an individual’s heart rate, skin temperature or other physiological metrics could help signal if someone is actively fighting off a virus. (Stanford, 04/2020)
  • Hong Kong International Airport is currently testing a “CLeanTech chamber”  — ie a device that looks like a car wash for humans. The chamber is reported to “remotely kill viruses and bacteria on human bodies and clothing through the technologies of photocatalysts which trigger a chemical reaction in materials through the use of light and nano needles thinner than a human hair.” (Forbes, 05/2020)

PICTURE THIS

Just as it’s become customary to walk through security at the airport or key a badge before entering an office elevator, will we soon be touching our smartwatches at health check-points… or walking through virus-zapping sanitation tunnels before heading into the next SXSW? 

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