News 01.03.2024

Need to Know

A daily recap from Mobile World Congress 2024, foresight director Fiona Harkin’s Foresight Friday and and Gen Z football fans admit to not watching entire games.

Mobile World Congress 2024 daily recap: Edge computing and digital divas

Mobile World Congress 2024. Photography by Howard Sayer, Spain

Spain – 5G, AI and edge computing were hot topics at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), but what happens when all three technologies converge? Ankur Jain, vice-president of Google Cloud Telecommunications, emphasised the role of 5G-enabled network edge computing in addressing privacy and data sovereignty issues in AI applications. Following Jain's talk, a panel of representatives from Dell, ZTE, Amdocs and Equinix were equally optimistic about AI. The sustainable benefits of this interoperability were put forward – processing close to the data centre can save huge amounts of energy, as well as financial and safety benefits.

Taking a different tack on AI’s ever-expanding capabilities, in a talk entitled AI Arias and Digital Divas, Barnabas Takacs, head of research and development at FFP Productions, and Roberto Iacoviello, lead research engineer at RAI, introduced a project using AI to create a 3D digital twin of the late opera singer Maria Callas, fully equipped with the soprano’s unmistakable voice. ‘As time passes memory can fade so creating digital twins of cultural icons can bridge the past and the present,’ said Iacoviello, but while we will see a lot more from virtual actors, Takacs stressed that they wouldn’t be stealing work from real actors; instead they will create an entirely new market within the entertainment industry.

AI isn’t the only tool for digital innovation in entertainment, however. Imagine going to a theme park where no one visit is the same and each ride is customised to you. According to Andreu Tobella Brunet, digital director of PortAventura World theme park, phygital experiences combining augmented reality with traditional entertainment venues is the future of entertainment.

Strategic opportunity

How can you introduce a virtual aspect to your physical experience or vice versa? Phygital is set to be the future of entertainment and successfully marrying the two creates endless possibilities for re-invention and customisation

L’Occitane celebrates Ramadan with a virtual pop-up store

L’Occitane’s virtual store, France L’Occitane’s virtual store, France
L’Occitane’s virtual store, France L’Occitane’s virtual store, France

Global – French beauty brand L’Occitane En Provence has unveiled a virtual store in celebration of Ramadan. Created in partnership with Emperia, the interactive experience emphasises togetherness, gifting and self-reflection.

The Ramadan Village was designed to evoke a traditional Middle Eastern house and the spirit of Ramadan celebrations. Co-created with artist Bayan Yasien, the experience is thought to evoke the warmth, security and familiarity of holiday traditions. Inside, L’Occitane products are showcased as trusty self-care tools in key moments of Ramadan, when fasting can pose skin challenges like dehydration. The brand also helps customers find their skincare routine via a questionnaire generating product recommendations that can be added to a shopping basket or shared.

‘Rather than focusing solely on the traditional function of e-commerce, the brand keeps […] enriching the online journey through education and individualisation, embodying its heritage of top personal customer support while leveraging new technologies,’ the co-founder and CEO of Emperia, Olga Dogadkina, explained in a statement.

This activation follows the inclusivity boost we started tracking in 2022 in our Halal Beauty Market report, driving beauty brands to consider religious and ethical restrictions in their strategies.

Strategic opportunity

Beauty brands sticking to one-size-fits-all strategies are setting themselves up for failure. To compete with regional favourites, find local partners to develop educative and interactive branded experiences that celebrate and honour culture

Foresight Friday: Fiona Harkin, director of foresight

Victoria Ling for The Future Laboratory Victoria Ling for The Future Laboratory

Every Friday, The Future Laboratory team offer an end-of-week wrap-up of the topics, issues, ideas and virals we’re all talking about. This week, director of foresight Fiona Harkin talks space snooping, poor little films and the new ultra-fem power dressing.

: There’s going to be a giant zoom lens in the sky, built and provided by Albedo Space in the US, which can tell if you’re sunbathing in your back garden naked, or not – and we should all be concerned about our privacy. Of course, any acceptance of an infringement of privacy is persuaded by claims of it helping the common good: security, saving lives during natural disasters etc. And it’s in this way that we incrementally give up more of our human rights – read more in The New York Times

: So, Poor Things, let’s discuss. Is it an allegorical view of our messed up patriarchal reality or is it the most misogynistic film ever made, infantilising women as sex objects and one whichtakes the absolute biscuit’?

: I’m sharing The Sartorialist’s view of the frow at Max Mara last week, looking so very extra-together. Okay, it’s Max Mara and one would expect high-level feminine elegance, but the attendees across all age groups collectively channelled a not-so-quiet, 1980s revival fem-luxe, somewhat clashing with the masculine looks coming down the catwalk. It said: ‘I’ve got a job to do, I’m wearing 15 deniers, don’t get in my way, pass me the YSL Rive Gauche.’ Read our autumn/winter 2024 fashion week summaries here.

Quote of the week

‘I’m sure the technology is terrific. I still think and hope it fails,’ says one Silicon Valley investor. ‘Apple feels more and more like a tech fentanyl dealer that poses as a rehab provider.’

Why Tim Cook is Going All In on the Apple Vision Pro by Nick Bilton, Vanity Fair

Stat: FootballCo explores shifting fan preferences in global football

The Nike United Pack and Nike Tiempo Legend 10 The Nike United Pack and Nike Tiempo Legend 10

Global – New research from FootballCo, a media company specialising in football insights, highlights significant growth in interest in the sport in the Middle East and the US, where a surge in young player-over-club fans is reshaping traditional football landscapes.

Across emerging and established markets, data reveals a shift in content consumption habits. Notably, 38% of Euro 2024 fans said that missing live matches wouldn’t affect their tournament enjoyment, a figure that rose to 47% among Gen Z England fans.

The findings underline a broader trend: young fans, particularly Generation Z, are diversifying their football experience, embracing video games, online highlights and social media content alongside traditional match-viewing. Qualitative interviews emphasise a desire for football content to offer entertainment and narrative depth, akin to popular series like Welcome to Wrexham and Drive to Survive. Beyond on-pitch action, stories and inspiration captivate modern audiences, driving engagement beyond mere match outcomes.

Strategic opportunity

To engage young audiences effectively, businesses – within and outside of the sports sector – must grasp consumers’ media consumption habits across platforms. Diversifying content across formats is crucial for seamless connection across text, video, gaming, social media and more

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