Here today, gone tomorrow?

We invited more than 1,000 consumers from Hatch — our proprietary mobile platform that allows consumers to answer critical business questions and engage with leading brands — to take a picture of something they think won’t exist in five years’ time, explaining why they think so and what they think will replace it.

Elizabeth Caffrey

Associate Director at C Space

Elizabeth Caffrey is an Associate Director of C Space’s Product Innovation team. A seasoned researcher, Elizabeth oversees and leads our Hatch product team. Always ready to take on a new client challenge, she ensures that the Hatch platform is finding valuable insights, with creative consumers — and their perspectives — at the ready. When she’s not problem solving, Elizabeth decompresses by watching The Real Housewives (all of them) and is patiently learning the ropes of being a hockey mom to her 4-year-old son (even in July).

Where did Bluetooth get its brand?

The branding we associate with easy, painless information sharing across hundreds of languages and file types is the result of merging the Old Norse runic symbols for “H” and “B.”

Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson was a 10th century King of Denmark and Norway. History paints him as a pretty unlikeable figure, but he was an innovator in his own right. He introduced Christianity to the nation, constructed the oldest known bridge in southern Scandinavia (the Ravning Bridge), and oversaw the construction of numerous rune stones and fortresses.

But to Jim Kardach of Intel, he was most famous for uniting discordant Danish tribes into one kingdom. That’s why Kardach proposed the name Bluetooth to Sony Ericsson co-inventor and engineer, Sven Mattisson, in a pub in the summer of 1997. The implication was that, like King Harald, this new technology — this Bluetooth — could unite us all wirelessly through the PC and cellular industries.

In a way it has. We’re witnessing the holistic revolution of technologies. It’s no longer one software or one product for one thing; it’s one for all things. This is the age of economic convenience. Is it cheaper? I’ll buy it. As long as it’s portable, easy, and brings me value.

We asked more than 1,000 consumers to take a picture of something they think won’t exist in 5 years’ time, explaining why they think so, and what they think will replace it. All these people were from Hatch — our proprietary mobile platform that allows consumers to answer critical business questions and engage with leading brands. The graphic below shows a smorgasbord of the images they submitted. Several things were clear.

Consumers know that technology is changing, fast.

They don’t want bulky things that aren’t portable or break easily. If it looks like it’s dying out, then it probably will. They accept the exponential rate at which our technology evolves and are quick to render current technologies (and even brands) as soon-to-be obsolete.

The physical will become digital

In many ways, this is already happening — from the way we consume music, to the way we interact with our technological devices (remote controls, keyboards, mice — all almost gone), to how we enter our homes and cars. But consumers are already thinking about what gets digitized next. One saw fingerprint and face recognition technology as the not-too-distant future of entering and locking: “Keys can be lost. It prevents theft not to have a physical item to gain access to something.”

One device for everything

Remember Steve Jobs’ famous keynote speech in 2007? He masterfully presented 3 new Apple products — an iPod, a mobile phone, an Internet browser — that were actually one thing: the iPhone. In the years since, we’ve gotten used to convenience, anytime access, and portability, so that consumers see a future that will fit right into your pocket.

By 2023, consumers predict that most technology will be consolidated into one device, much like the iPhone. After all, smartphone apps are used as flashlights, remote controllers, and alarm clocks. We stream TV shows, play games, take photos, film videos, read books, and tell the time all from our pocket phones. So all those ancient, disparate tribes of camcorders, analog clocks, and TVs will be universally united — just the way King Harald would have wanted it.

One consumer summarized it succinctly: “I think we will have one device that will have everything.”

Everything is going to be wireless

To the consumer, cords and cables will look like vestiges of a bygone era. Because of the convenience of cloud computing and Bluetooth, we’ll be connected through an invisible thread, and charging your cell phone will be entirely wire-free.

A healthy and sustainable environment matters

Another interesting insight relates to the number of environmentally conscious consumers. Plastic, they said, is going to wither away. Several respondents named straws, plastic bags, and water bottles as dead and buried in 5 years, all replaced by “something renewable and better for the environment.”

Cash will be a relic of the past

In a digital and wireless world, with one device for everything, who needs coins and cash? Several consumers believed that in 5 years we’ll pay for everything with credit cards and cryptocurrencies — not physical cash.

One thing King Harald was exceptionally good at was future-proofing his new kingdom. By building castles and monuments, he laid the very foundations for his legacy. He anticipated what was to come. But he inevitably died from wounds inflicted in an uprising against him, led by his own son. He couldn’t see the warning signals early enough, and that was his undoing.

If Harald had a 5-year countdown and more than a thousand people predicting his future, things might have ended differently. We didn’t have that luxury in the 10th-century either. But we do today. Brands can talk directly to their customers, listen to their anxieties or their worries for the future, inevitably paving a new road that leads to prosperity. And maybe a few castles get built along the way.

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