Imagine a smart device you own forever receiving a text from your house when you've hit your energy ceiling. Imagine living in a thriving, self-sufficient and creative 'hi tech, hi nature' rural community founded on a new approach to technology that puts wellbeing, not widgets, first. These imaginings could actually become a reality in 2025.
Since the summer of 2011, the idea of exploring the potential of technology and entertainment to create a better, more sustainable future has been at the forefront of my mind. Imagining what life might be like in 2025 opens up endless possibilities and for many of us, it's really exciting - if you're not too daunted by the prospect of extra wrinkles.
And luckily, I haven't had to do it alone. The FutureScapes project has brought together an eclectic mix of people from across Europe ranging from Forum for the Future and Sony technologists, to external experts including designers, activists, futurologists, vloggers, authors and illustrators. Using creative and sometimes unusual techniques we worked hard together to stir up our imaginations and unlock new ideas. This FutureScapes community participated in, contributed to and enhanced this journey in many ways. They took part in mass brainstorms where they painted reclaimed front doors ('doors to the future' - geddit?) and created 3D collages to showcase their visions of a more sustainable 2025. They attended concept development workshops in London and Paris with innovation experts in order to identify and develop their ideas of the future - and the technology that might help us live more sustainably. And the FutureScapes online hub provided a platform to share this combined exploration.
The brainstorming and ideas generation stage could have gone on forever. Indeed, it was fantastic to see so many wonderful interpretations for what the future might hold - personally, I really wanted the experiential app that took me up the Himalayas in my dreams. But I was delighted when the community's energy focused around four key concepts for further refinement by our collaboration partners. These concepts directly addressed the sustainability issues we'd heard voiced time and time again throughout the many stages of this journey.
Wandular, a concept developed by Engage by Design, is a multifunctional, modular device that evolves with you throughout your life time. Like a well-loved watch or a childhood teddy bear, this device increases in emotional and personal value over time, whilst remaining bang up to date via software and service cloud updates and new hardware plug-ins. Wandular is about making technology more human and mitigating today's consumer desire for wanting "new stuff", without losing the benefits of new innovations. I want one!
Something else I want is to live in a Hyper Village. Is there potential for rural environments to emulate the buzz of the city? The next concept, Hyper Village, shows that there certainly is. Hyper Village, developed with Pipeline Projects, provides a possible antidote to mega-city migration by creating an alternative vision - that of a thriving, self-reliant, but globally connected rural community, holding its own against the city as a distinctive, stimulating and important place to live, work and - crucially for all - nurture the natural resources we all depend on. Hyper village is supported by the highest-spec software and hardware and will enjoy the best hybrid experiences that nature and technology have to offer. We're excited about creating better connections and relationships within the whole system of life and breaking down physical and psychological barriers between rural and urban communities.
The Internet of Things Academy (IOTA) makes coding and data accessible to everyone. Along with development partner Superflux, we set out to answer whether we could create an accessible multi-purpose platform for anyone to experiment with data to create tools they want and need. As more information is made available online, an emerging digital divide separates those who can access and use it and those who can't, like me. IOTA provides an informal educational platform which facilitates the mixing and matching of hardware, software and data sets. I'd use it to find out how traffic volume and air pollution affects my daughter's asthma.
And finally, with the pace of technological change showing no signs of slowing, how can we make sure such change genuinely deliver better lives for everyone? More of a philosophy than a concept, The Shift, developed alongside Forum for the Future, throws down this gauntlet: If 'more' and 'faster' doesn't always been 'better', what does a more proportionate approach to technology look like? Can our relationship with information and communication technology really continue on its current trajectory, and what might the impacts be in 2025? How do we embrace the benefit of being 'always on' without being driven to distraction?
By majoring on people and lifestyles rather than scientific data or isolated technologies, FutureScapes has succeeded in pulling issues out of the 'green ghetto' in a fun and thought-provoking way, and inspiring people to push their boundaries of imagination to create unique visions of technology for a better future.
Do help us take these concepts forward to prototyping - to find out more, follow @Better_Futures on Twitter or visit http://www.sony.co.uk/futurescapes