As the world around us continues to evolve at a rapid rate, so too does the technology we engage with. Emerging technologies are now opening windows into experiences that we'd previously never even dreamed of. The possibilities that exist at the end of our fingertips continue to amaze, their potential continues to offer hope and most importantly, their very existence continues to provide more and more meaning to our lives by enhancing our humanity.
The potential for brands and businesses to use technology in a way that adds meaning to our lives and enhances our humanity remains largely untapped. That's why, in collaboration with Adobe, myself and the Goldsmiths team sought to explore the impact that emerging technologies can have on the consumer experience by looking at the intersections of brands, technology and people.
Collectively, what we found filled us with hope and excitement. Perhaps the best way to describe what people seek from an experience is the term magical reality; people want to be surprised and delighted, transformed and transported, and most of all, to feel and live the experience. Instead of dehumanising through technology - as is so often assumed - the future of experience is about technology supporting and amplifying the best qualities of our humanity.
Focusing our attention on five emerging technologies, including virtual reality, artificial intelligence, wearables, augmented reality and the Internet of Things, we sought to gain a deeper understanding of how technology - when used correctly - can help transform the way we live our lives.
To do this, we enlisted the help of twelve dedicated participants drawn from the general public who, over the course of eight concentrated days' worth of digital experiences, allowed us to monitor and evaluate the impact of digital experience technology on their daily lives.
We then interviewed a series of subject matter experts, including strategists, marketers, event organisers, futurists, artists and filmmakers, along with those leading the digital experience revolution; the CEOs, founders and creators of these technology products. The interviews allowed us to provide both perspective and context to the current marketplace and supplement the feedback we'd already gained from the participants.
Finally, we put a YouGov survey into a field which allowed us access to an incredibly extensive and diverse pool of insights, taken from 2,067 adults across the UK.
Our research identified five rules of engagement upon which brands and businesses can and should frame their understanding of experiences:
These essentially provide the dimensions on which we've based the future of experience. Our research illustrated that experiences are both value and values; that is, we discovered that what an experience offers carries just as much weight as how the how experience enables us to transform, adapt, learn or connect.
Empathy refers to the need for technologies to be meaningful and to connect with people emotionally. Our research reflected this, with 32% of respondents stating that meaningful was the top attribute of a great experience, closely followed by personal (19%).
Serendipity alludes to the importance of remaining open to the unexpected; technology has enormous potential in aiding and encouraging discovery and surprise, and this was backed up by our survey - with 64% of respondents confirming that a good digital experience is one which allows them to discover new and unexpected things.
On privacy, 52% of those surveyed agreed that a good digital experience empowers them to use technology to not only connect to the world, but disconnect from it also with private moments and exploration.
With reciprocity, our research found that people were willing to accept AI into their lives, providing the applications provided helpful, practical, personal and progressive experiences.
On adaptability, it was found that brands must adapt to provide seamless, integrated experiences across products and services. Respondents revealed that while they want seamless experiences, there is still a number of people (35%) who prefer the human touch - that is, for example, face-to-face transactions in lieu of computer-generated service.
As mentioned, the results were remarkable. There exists amongst everyone we spoke with a genuine longing for experiences that help us to transform, adapt, learn and connect. In spite of the distractions and interferences that permeate our society and threaten to disturb the ways in which we engage with the world, our research has demonstrated a profound desire for technologies to enhance and enrich the meaning of our everyday lives.
Creative and innovative experiences which harness the previously unimaginable powers of emerging technologies are set make this dream into a reality - by transforming not only how we live, but how we learn and understand.
It's now up to brands to define the future of experiences by creating technologies which are empathetic, learning and adaptive. Download The Future of Experience report.