Through a different lens

2018-01-14 06:06

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Using the Trends acronym, Flux Trends provides a glimpse into the key trends for this year across six sectors.

These are a sample of a broader selection of trends, which Flux explores in depth at our annual trade presentation – The State We’re In – that kick-starts each new year.

The presentation serves as an executive summary of the shifts, innovations and evolutions linked within the six trend pillars.

The 2018 edition is entitled Through a Different Lens, which is a follow on from 2017’s Dazed and Disorientated: The Impact of Being Woke.

Last year proved to be a pivotal one, especially in the sociopolitical realm, which led many brands and businesses to re-examine their approach for the year ahead.


Robot citizens

We’re still getting used to the idea of “co-bots” – robots that work alongside humans and take on menial or routine tasks.

Last year, Dubai started deploying real robot cops to help their police force.

Saudi Arabia went one step further and granted full citizenship of the kingdom to Sophia – the first female humanoid robot created by Hanson Robotics.

In China, engineer Zheng Jiajia went beyond the contentious issue of sexbots and built his own female robot, which he then married in a traditional wedding ceremony.

It seems that the era of transhumanism has officially begun.


Magazines blur retail boundaries

Magazines are recontextualising their content by becoming retailers.

As highlighted in the Flux Trends, New Rules of Retail report, fashion magazines are exploring hybrid solutions to tackle the decline in retail and publishing.

Marie Claire hosted a three week pop-up – The Next Big Thing concept – in New York last year.

The store focused on three popular sections in the magazine and brought them to life in the retail space.

This dovetails with the rise of “Instagram playgrounds”, where retailers create environments designed for the platform.

The Museum of Ice Cream is currently one of the trailblazers exploring new opportunities in social-media commerce.


Brands pivoting into finance

The traditional approach to banking is dwindling exponentially.

Already, 62% of millennials are happy to pay via a trusted brand’s app rather than use traditional banking systems.

Apps are being created that will enable consumers to open bank accounts and purchase government bonds.

Brands are creating new avenues to interact with consumers. Many are doing so by providing alternative financial services.

This year sees the opening of Discovery Bank and the creation of Uber credit cards.

Starbucks has announced its intention to pivot into a mobile payments company, while Snapchat and Apple have filed for trademarks for peer-to-peer payment platforms.

The death knell for banks is clanging.


Bio malware

As researchers explore storing data using DNA (yes, really), scientists have already created a security threat to this futuristic concept.

Bio hackers from the University of Washington have found a way to encode “malicious software” onto DNA strands.

The malware is not intended to harm its human host, but becomes a means of corrupting gene sequencing software and taking control of the underlying computer – a real concern as we embrace new forms of biometrics.

Computer science professor Tadayoshi Kohno says: “This means that, when you’re looking at the security of computational biology systems, you’re not only thinking about the network connectivity and the USB drive, but also the information stored in the DNA they’re sequencing.

"It’s about considering a different class of threat.”


The first minster of AI

In the pursuit of harnessing future skills and investing in the development of science and technology, the United Arab Emirates has become the first nation to appoint a minister of state for artificial intelligence.

Omar Bin Sultan (27) will focus on rebranding the country as a Middle Eastern tech hub.

Their plans are ambitious – not only do they see 25% of Dubai’s police force being made up of robots by 2030; they have joined the race to place autonomous vehicles on their roads and launch flying taxis.

Then there are the parallel investments in various hyperloop transportation projects and a plan to reach Mars.


From woke to wide awake

Issues of identity – specifically those of race, gender and culture – played a critical role in shaping social movements last year.

These movements, such as the #MeToo campaign, will ensure that brands, businesses and politicians tread carefully as they navigate a changed sociocultural landscape of what is and is not acceptable.

This year, additional (and more complex) undercurrents of gender fluidity and gender neutrality will come to the fore, as seen in the banning of gender stereotype advertising in the UK.

As brands shift their focus to Generation Z, they will need to be hyper aware of their broad yet defiant stance on identity.

Dion Chang is the founder of Flux Trends. For more game-changing “trends as business strategy” visit

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