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Perspectives

Designing the body of the future

Sophie Maxwell, Futures Director

We have recently spoken to a number of brands about innovation and how technology is advancing the greatest pace of change. And while this is steering future thinking, it is also clear that our future innovation has to be about people. Not just about the people making innovation happen but, more importantly, how we are innovating for people. In the past few years, we have grown to expect new levels of innovation to optimize and maximize our body’s appearance and function. New products, such as the Nike Sole, have already become so integrated that we may forget to stand back and appraise just how much they have revolutionized lives. In general, the body is still one of the most difficult areas in which to innovate uniquely and successfully. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be looking for new ways to design for the body of the future. Naturally, innovation in this area will have the biggest and most far-reaching impact and influence on the whole of society.

Perceptions of the body are shifting perception and steering new directions for brands and culture as a whole. We see this manifesting in two ways. Firstly, with a new aesthetic. The human form and the composition of the body will continue to shape and be translated into the aesthetic of our brands, products and devices. But, secondly, and most significantly, is how we now address future innovation for the body to meet both need and desire. With advances such as i-limbs and artificial organs, we have seen an explosion of innovation in the critical field of prosthetics. The news of a new smart spoon to cancel out users’ hand tremors for those suffering from, for example, Parkinson’s disease, also shows the continuing evolution and advances in other areas of health and human need. But there is also a very real and exciting opportunity to challenge, innovate and design for every aspect of the body, connecting the physical and the mental to create new, unique and holistic expressions.

At Pearlfisher we run a Futures program to understand change, inspire creativity and design for the future. Our latest study into the Body looks at this cultural shift and, more precisely, our changing relationship with the Body and how the future Body might look, feel and function.

As part of our study we have imagined and developed a future-focused design concept to help visualize and contextualize this. Primate is a tool designed to read your body on a daily basis. Based on the information it gleans from scanning your hand – and with 3 sections for 3 different functions called Begin, Believe and Boost – it creates mental and physical nourishment to keep you functioning at your optimum throughout the day. Primate gives us the tools to check in on our bodies daily, to perfectly tailor every start to the day and to boost our characters with specific nutrients that help us to be whoever we want to be.

The technology already exists to realize boundless possibilities and products and there is no reason why innovations and concepts such as Primate could not be a future – a near future – reality. But it is with design thinking and innovation that we will begin to see these ideas come to life. A strong design aesthetic and finding new ways to express the body will help pave the way for future brand and design concepts and impact and influence the future of the body, technology, health, lifestyle and beyond.

Originally published on PSFK

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