Need to know
17 : 09 : 18

The Future Laboratory explores futuristic materials, Google launches an Indian social network, underwear that educates about puberty.

See the materials of the future at London Design Festival

Envisioning Material Far Futures: Self healing by Studio Brasch for The Future Laboratory Envisioning Material Far Futures: Self Healing by Studio Brasch for The Future Laboratory
The future of walking, ActiveAir footwear project The future of walking, ActiveAir footwear project
Envisioning Material Far Futures: Purifying by Studio Brasch for The Future Laboratory Envisioning Material Far Futures: Purifying by Studio Brasch for The Future Laboratory
Phylogenetic Atelier by Tina Gorjanc Phylogenetic Atelier by Tina Gorjanc

London – The Future Laboratory will explore the materials of the future with a dedicated exhibition during London Design Festival 2018.

This week, London becomes a campus for thought-provoking installations as the London Design Festival returns to the capital. Located in the heart of the Shoreditch Design Triangle is The Future Laboratory’s Elder Street office, which will play host to an exhibition exploring how future materials will transform product design.

Inspired by the findings of our Material Far Futures report, The Future Laboratory’s courtyard will feature visuals from our collaboration with Studio Brasch. In addition, the ActiveAir footwear project will demonstrate the potential to filter air at ground level through the soles of our shoes, while Tina Gorjanc’s Phylogenetic Atelier will consider the ethical implications of bringing back extinct animals as a source of rare materials.

The event will take place from 20–23 September at 26 Elder Street, London E1 6BT, home to The Future Laboratory. In the meantime, keep an eye on our Need to Know for daily updates straight from London Design Festival 2018.

Period-proof underwear for tweens

Thinx (BTWN), US Thinx (BTWN), US
Thinx (BTWN), US Thinx (BTWN), US

US – Thinx, a company that offers absorbent period-proof underwear, has launched a new line for girls aged between nine and 16.

Each piece in the range, called Thinx (Btwn), features an animal character that aims to educate teens and tweens about the different stages of menstruation. By expanding into the youth market, Thinx aims to prepare these younger consumers and their care-givers for their first period, while removing awkwardness and embarrassment.

‘With the launch of Thinx (Btwn), parents have the opportunity to help ease their tweens and teens into period management by providing an easy-to-use and eco-friendly solution to what can be a stressful time,’ says Maria Molland, CEO of Thinx.

Puberty is a pivotal life stage for young women, but is often ignored by beauty, health and wellness brands. Innovators such as Thinx and Blume are finally addressing tween consumers’ needs, using education to ease their experience.

Google rolls out a social network in India

Neighbourly, Google Neighbourly, Google

India – Neighbourly is a new, local app that wants to challenge the presence of WhatsApp and Facebook in India.

Google hopes that the app will better serve the way Indian consumers use the internet. According to research by the technology giant, most Indian consumers shop, work and socialise within one or two kilometres of where they live. Therefore, Neighbourly will act as a virtual bulletin board for locals to ask one another for recommendations or advice.

With Neighbourly coming from a mega-system like Google, questions could be raised about how its data will be used in India, a country that hosts the world’s largest offline population and remains largely untapped for technology providers. Last year, Facebook attracted criticism for releasing the Free Basics internet service in emerging economies, with the platform dubbed ‘digital colonialism’ for controlling the sites that users could access.

Western technology brands are being challenged to demonstrate a level of responsibility when entering developing markets. For more, read our macrotrend Morality Recoded.

This at-home health scanner tracks body changes

Naked Labs, US Naked Labs, US
Naked Labs, US Naked Labs, US
Naked Labs, US Naked Labs, US

San Francisco – Naked Labs has launched a 3D body scanner that allows users to build a full health profile without leaving their home.

The connected device doubles as a full-length smart mirror that revolves to scan the user’s body, creating a 3D model. The scanned data then translates to an app, which displays the 3D model, along with a range of metrics such as body fat percentage, lean mass and fat mass. Users can also access previous scans’ data and graphs for side-by-side comparison.

‘People are searching for evidence-based methods to track health and fitness that aren’t solely focused on weight,’ says Naked Labs co-founder Farhad Farahbakhshian. According to the company, future consumers could use Naked’s precise body doubles to order clothing or create avatars for video game play.

As outlined in our microtrend Pro-formance Training, performance and health-focused technology is becoming increasingly accessible to everyday consumers and not just athletes.

Stat: Brazilians consume 14 hours of media a day

According to latest data from the BRICS region – constituting Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – Brazil consumed the greatest amount of media, including both entertainment and digital media, in the first half of 2018.

Clocking more than 14 hours a day per viewer, Brazil’s consumption was nearly five hours greater than that of consumers in China, a nation known for its devotion to apps and digital devices. According to the data from GlobalWebIndex, the BRICS average was just over 12 hours.

The data demonstrates the significance of media brands in Brazil, especially as a market hungry for video content. The country is YouTube’s second largest consumer market after the US, while in 2017 Google reported that five of Brazil’s most influential public figures were YouTubers.

Thought-starter: Do consumers still have a sweet tooth?

Brothers And Sisters Brothers And Sisters

Changing consumer palates and a marked decline in the number of pastry chefs are forcing restaurants to rethink desserts, both in terms of ingredients and how they are perceived online.

When it comes to the restaurant sector, desserts are struggling. Earlier this year The New York Times food critic Pete Wells wrote a piece calling for a stop to the ice cream sundae. ‘Dessert was put on this planet in order to surprise us. When did it become so numbingly predictable?’ he asked.

According to a report published by Mars, consumers are taking ‘a more thoughtful and measured approach to desserts’, and are now ‘gravitating towards smaller portions, shared items and desserts that are formulated in ways that meet their definition of being better for you, with fresh, local ingredients and minimally processed additives’.

As a result of this shift, chefs are experimenting with non-traditional ingredients. Olive oil and vinegar, for instance, are increasingly used as ingredients to offset sweetness, while in the US, 15% of consumers say they are interested in bakery items featuring savoury flavours.

For more on why the dessert isn’t dead, read our Indulgence Market: Restaurant Desserts.