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The sixth sense: designing the future of our sensory potential

Our lifestyles are changing – getting busier, more complex and multi-layered, though arguably more fulfilling. These big cultural shifts are resulting in new needs and a demand for these needs to be met by brands, products and
services. These are increasingly being delivered by technology, technology that is offering us speed, convenience and multiple options to facilitate our choices. This means that we are living increasingly hyper-connected and ‘omni-channel’ lives and can access – and interact with – more information about ourselves than ever before.

One area of technology that has seen increasing levels of traction with consumers is wearable devices, smart sensors and recognition technology. These advances highlight the increasing ability to gather ever-more precise information and intelligence about consumers. And, as consumers, we have become used to the fact that our data is the fuel for these products and services and the subsequent premiumised and personalised benefits we enjoy because of it.

In the future the demand to further shape and enhance these tools which will help us more precisely embrace the potential power of our individuality will continue to grow. And we believe that their next opportunity could lie in new and creative ways to harness and design the unspoken frontier of our sensory potential: our sixth sense.

We are already seeing rapid advances in the next generation of wearable devices, like Olive, with a real-time capability to track and manage stress. But new design concepts, such as Pearlfisher’s ideation of fragrance brand Intui, are now taking this wearable and interactive evolution to a more personal and exacting level by working with our sixth sense.

Intui (with a male and female variant) works by applying a small, digital tattoo to the pulse point on the wrist. The tattoo reacts to the body’s sixth sense, both our chemical and emotional responses, with a harmonising release of scent. Think of the excitement and happiness attached to a first date or the anticipation and nervousness of an interview. Now think about having the ability to harness these emotions. Based on the idea that our senses are our personal warning system, Intui responds to the excitement or fear, pleasure or pain, by triggering a release of scent to help us listen to, and get the best from, our own innate sense of intuition. Above all, concepts like Intui are offering us an opportunity – the opportunity to bring together our personal and digital connections and capabilities in a brand new space with the potential to deliver a completely new benefit.

In the context of the wearables market Intui’s USP is of course that it goes beyond ‘wearable’ device into the realm of ’embeddable’ – a device that doesn’t just record body chemistry but works to harmonise and improve it. In this respect it leads the way for a next generation of products/services (not just wearable accessories but more intrinsic and personal interactions) that will not just take their performance to a higher level but, at the same time, be discreet and visually unobtrusive.

So, as we increasingly feel empowered to push ourselves beyond previous emotional, physical and spiritual boundaries to new realms of self-actualisation, we have explored the idea that our sensory potential is the last bastion in our development. And we now want to see new gateways, products and experiences that push the boundaries of our sixth sense to truly reflect this optimisation of experience, between us and the world we live in, that we are now actively seeking.

Originally published on PSFK

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