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10.10.2017 Technology : Sustainability : Food & Drink

In today’s daily digest: Google’s in-ear translation, alcoholic Kombrewcha, an environmentally themed national holiday and other stories.

1. Google introduces real-time translation earbuds

Pixel Buds by Google Pixel Buds by Google

US – Google has launched a pair of earbuds capable of translating 40 languages in real time. Users of the Google Pixel Buds touch the right earbud while speaking to translate the phrase into their chosen language, which they can then repeat out loud. Users can then pass their phone to the person they are talking to and receive an audio translation as they speak.

Although not the first such device of its kind – Waverly Labs announced it was launching a similar instant translation earpiece earlier this year – Google’s Pixel Buds will be sold at the much lower price of £121 ($159, €135), compared with £189 ($249, €212) for Waverley Labs’ Pilot, and the scale of Google is likely to ensure much greater adoption.

As New Bricolage Living becomes increasingly pervasive, brands are exploring new ways to facilitate communication between cosmopolitan consumers.

2. Danish architect designs Mars simulation in UAE

Mars Science City by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) Mars Science City by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)
Mars Science City by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) Mars Science City by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)
Mars Science City by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) Mars Science City by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)
Mars Science City by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) Mars Science City by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

UAE – Danish architect Bjarke Ingels is working with Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the Dubai Municipality to design a space simulation campus designed to mimic the harsh conditions found on Mars.

The project, Mars Science City, will consist of domed structures erected over 17.5 hectares of the UAE desert. Emirati scientists will inhabit the city for a year, tasked with devising new methods of self-sufficient energy, food and water production. The £103.6m (AED500m, $136.1m) initiative forms part of the United Arab Emirates’ Mars 2117 Strategy, which aims to see the first inhabitable settlement built on the Red Planet within 100 years.

In 2015, LS:N Global introduced our macrotrend The Immortal Brand, an exploration of how brands need to move away from short-term thinking and adopt a more enduring approach to the future.

3. New US national holiday celebrates sustainability

San Francisco – Luxury e-commerce site The RealReal has worked with fashion designer Stella McCartney to introduce National Consignment Day, a holiday promoting the extended lifeline of clothing through a circular economy.

The day of celebration, the first of which was on 2 October, will take place annually on the first Monday in October. The initiative demonstrates the importance of The RealReal’s consignment model, which has helped to boost the value of second-hand luxury goods and make them more desirable for luxury consumers.

The move follows the announcement that 2 August this year was Earth Overshoot Day, which highlighted how more resources had been used by that day than could be produced by the earth during the whole year. As explored in our Fashion Futures presentation, brands and consumers are realising the importance of instigating more sustainable practices around the production and consumption of fashion.

For more on the luxury consignment model, see our Global Luxury Market report.

Clevercare series by Stella McCartney, UK Clevercare series by Stella McCartney, UK

4. Kombrewcha offers a healthier alternative to beer

Hard Kombucha by Kombrewcha, New York Hard Kombucha by Kombrewcha, New York
Hard Kombucha by Kombrewcha, New York Hard Kombucha by Kombrewcha, New York
Hard Kombucha by Kombrewcha, New York Hard Kombucha by Kombrewcha, New York

US – Combining the health benefits of kombucha with alcohol, Kombrewcha aims to provide an alternative to cocktails, beer and wine for calorie-conscious consumers. The new range, which comes in four flavours – original, berry hibiscus, lemongrass lime and royal ginger – has an alcohol by volume content of 3.2%, similar to that of low-alcohol beers, and will be available from Whole Foods Market in Miami and New York as well as selected bars and restaurants.

‘We decided to increase our alcohol content to push ourselves into social occasions, while still keeping a low abv,’ says CEO Garrett Bredenkamp. ‘We are keenly aware that sessionable drinks are leading the way among health-conscious consumers, and at 3.2% abv we are giving consumers a way to socialise without compromise.’ With awareness around healthy eating at its peak, consumers are searching for ways to improve their wellbeing without having to compromise in their social lives. For more, see our Alco-health microtrend.

5. Education is a luxury indicator for Chinese parents

Parents in China are more likely than people anywhere else in the world to pay for private tuition for their children, according to a recent report by HSBC. The findings suggest that parents are prioritising education above other luxury spending, such as going on holiday and leisure activities. ‘This is the luxury I didn’t get to enjoy when I was young, and I hope to start early on my kid’s elite education so that he can stand out among his peers as he grows older,’ Linda Xu, a parent and operations manager in an international automobile company, told Jing Daily. See our Emerging Youth: China Market for more.

6. Thought-starter: Is it time to be serious about cryptocurrency?

With more governments creating their own cryptocurrencies, senior journalist Peter Maxwell asks whether it is time that brands start to take them more seriously.

Over the course of a month this summer, bitcoin doubled in value from £1,523 ($2,000, €1,703) to £3,046 ($4,000 €3,407), according to CoinDesk. In 2010, when the currency first appeared, you could buy about 2,000 bitcoins for just £3.80 ($5, €4.25). But while their volatility makes cryptocurrencies an interesting investment opportunity, it has also rendered them useless for making regular purchases.

But the cryptocurrency market might be about to enter a new era of stability and, ultimately, legitimacy. This is thanks to a number of recent announcements by major economies intending to launch government-backed tokens. In the past few weeks both Japan and Dubai have revealed plans to create their own iterations, while India is exploring whether cryptocurrencies might be a solution to regulating the black market. Ultimately, this could force brands to finally make this form of payment part of their offer.

Read the full opinion piece here.

Block Bills by Matthias Dörfelt, Los Angeles Block Bills by Matthias Dörfelt, Los Angeles
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