Need to know
11 : 09 : 18

Volvo targets business travellers, Hu-manity financially empowers patients, McCann uses a comic to capture creative talent.

Volvo imagines the future set-up of car interiors

Volvo 360c Volvo 360c
Volvo 360c Volvo 360c
Volvo 360c Volvo 360c

Sweden – The car manufacturer’s latest concept, the Volvo 360c, outlines the brand’s vision for how automobiles will evolve in the era of autonomous driving. The prototype has four adaptive modes that alter how the car interior looks and functions: a standard lounge-style seating arrangement; a work setting in which you and three colleagues can sit around a desk and one window becomes a giant monitor; a sleep setting with a fully reclined bed; and an entertainment setting that features a coffee table and bottle-holders.

But the most interesting part of this vision is how Volvo is speculating what the impact of such a vehicle would be on business travel, potentially being funded by companies in lieu of a company car and flight allowance. As Volvo outlines in a statement, this model could be a ‘lucrative competitor to short-haul air travel… The 360c sleeping environment enables first-class private cabin travel from door to door, without the inconvenience of airport security, queuing, noisy and cramped airliners.’

For more on the brands defining the future of transport, read our dedicated Mobility vertical.

Hu-manity helps consumers monetise medical data

Hu-manity app Hu-manity app
Hu-manity app Hu-manity app

US – The brand’s #My31 app lets people enforce legal ownership of their medical records by providing a means of contractual enforcement using the blockchain. Although such data does have some protection under US law, it is still often anonymised and sold by third parties without consumers’ knowledge.

The app’s name is a nod to the fact that Hu-manity believes data rights should be added to the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, which at present runs to 30 principles. ‘We’re starting with the idea that your data is your digital property, and we are allowing you to have the equivalent of [ownership],’ Hu-manity co-founder and CEO Richie Etwaru told TechCrunch.

The system enables users to assign the terms and conditions relating to how their data can be used, how often and by whom. This would mean that drugs companies would have to remunerate #My31 users for access to their records, and the nature of that access could be controlled. To explore this further, read the Personal Data Wallets section of our latest macrotrend Certified Wellness.

Could probiotics do more harm than good?

Yesfolk fermented tonics, New York Yesfolk fermented tonics, New York

Israel – Two studies published last week throw doubt on whether probiotic supplements always provide a net benefit to the user. The Israeli researchers who conducted the trials – in both mice and humans – found that probiotics only achieve their stated aim of altering gut bacteria some of the time.

In addition, the team looked at users who took such supplements following a course of antibiotics – an increasingly common practice as consumers look to replace and repair their microbiomes following medical treatment. Their findings showed that, far from aiding in gut recovery, they could slow its return to its previous state.

‘Our studies do demonstrate… that if you take a probiotic that you buy at your local supermarket, you have no way of knowing whether it would pass from one end to the other or colonise your gut,’ explained senior author and immunologist Eran Elinav.

For more on consumer attitudes towards managing their microbiomes, read our Gut Health market.

McCann’s comic aims to reduce recruitment bias

Kkaptionn by McCann London and D&AD New Blood Shift Kkaptionn by McCann London and D&AD New Blood Shift
Kkaptionn by McCann London and D&AD New Blood Shift Kkaptionn by McCann London and D&AD New Blood Shift
Kkaptionn by McCann London and D&AD New Blood Shift Kkaptionn by McCann London and D&AD New Blood Shift

London – While much attention has recently been paid to the ways in which AI is starting to help recruiters remove bias from the hiring process, such systems remain costly and convoluted to implement at scale. Recognising that the advertising industry has a diversity issue that needs to be imminently addressed, McCann London has created a lo-fi, but no less impactful solution.

Kkaptionn is a comic book without words that aspiring McCann creatives can anonymously fill out to demonstrate their creative flair. A space for a contact number on the last page is the only link back to the applicant. ‘What I first loved about the idea of Kkaptionn is that it reminded me of how blind auditions were held to help orchestras eliminate gender bias,’ explains Laurence Thomson, chief creative officer at McCann London. ‘Kkaptionn will serve to do the same for our industry.’

Packaging waste to overtake price as main consumer concern

Surprisingly, this figure is 5% more than those who cite food costs as a future concern. The research, commissioned by Thought Works, also showed that reducing food waste was a future priority for 48% of consumers, while 24% planned to be more mindful of the energy used in food production. Almost half of the study’s respondents (44%) could foresee a future in which they would no longer use supermarkets.

Read our listicle outlining some of the tactics food retailers can use to reduce their reliance on plastic.

Thought-starter: Is water the new wine?

Water Futures by A/D/O and Jane Withers Water Futures by A/D/O and Jane Withers

Amid consumers’ rising concern about the effect of alcohol on their health, a series of versatile waters are emerging intended for evening consumption.

A recent study published by medical journal The Lancet estimates that a 40-year-old drinking four units a day above the recommended limits has roughly two years’ lower life expectancy. Abstinence is also on the rise, with new figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that 20% of UK adults are not drinking alcohol at all.

As a result of this moderation culture, innovative brands have introduced low-alcohol or sugar-free soft drinks to replace those evening glasses of wine or beer. Now, water – with its zero calories and hydrating benefits – is being transformed into a night-time tipple.

Israeli start-up Wine Water has created O.Vine, made with grape skins and seeds, a ‘near water’ that converts the by-products of wine-making into a non-alcoholic, low-calorie water-wine hybrid. Meanwhile, Californian brewer Lagunitas has toyed with the traditional ingredients of alcohol to produce HopWater, an IPA-inspired sparkling water that mimics the taste of beer without the alcohol, carb or calorie content. Positioned as a beer alternative, HopWater can be enjoyed by itself or as a mixer to add a hoppy essence to cocktails. ‘Think of it like a club soda with soul,’ says Lagunitas brewer Jeremy Marshall.

Read the full microtrend here.