Need to Know
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3D-printed food that reduces emissions, Kickstarter supports sustainable projects and consumers want better digital customer care.

This VR experience reconnects humans with nature

We Live in an Ocean of Air by Marshmallow Laser Feast, Saatchi Gallery, photography by Barnaby Steel We Live in an Ocean of Air by Marshmallow Laser Feast, Saatchi Gallery, photography by Barnaby Steel
We Live in an Ocean of Air by Marshmallow Laser Feast, Saatchi Gallery, photography by Barnaby Steel We Live in an Ocean of Air by Marshmallow Laser Feast, Saatchi Gallery, photography by Barnaby Steel
We Live in an Ocean of Air by Marshmallow Laser Feast, Saatchi Gallery, photography by Barnaby Steel We Live in an Ocean of Air by Marshmallow Laser Feast, Saatchi Gallery, photography by Barnaby Steel

London - Designed by interaction studio Marshmallow Laser Feast, We Live in an Ocean of Air is a multi-sensory VR installation that underlines the connection between plants and humans.

Visitors to the installation wear sensors that monitor both their heart and breathing rate in real-time. With each exhale, oxygen and carbon dioxide particles are made visible within the VR ecosystem, becoming vibrant illustrative clusters. These particles subsequently interact with a giant sequoia tree, the largest living organism on the planet, to demonstrate our dependence on organisms beyond ourselves.

‘Humanity’s dependence on the natural world is absolute, placing the audience in the centre of these ecosystems, we aim to bring them closer to an understanding of our interconnectivity,’ explains Ersin Han Ersin of Marshmallow Laser Feast.

The synaesthetic stimulation created, in this instance, by a combination of wind, scent and binaural allows visitors to experience a new form of consciousness. For more, explore Experience 2020.

Rebel Rabbet launches category-defying spirits

Rebel Rabbet by London Distillery Company Rebel Rabbet by London Distillery Company
Rebel Rabbet by London Distillery Company Rebel Rabbet by London Distillery Company

London – Rebel Rabbet is creating small-batch spirits that break free of traditional categories such as vodka, whisky and rum.

Its Rebel Exile Series is a rebellion against uninspiring large-mix liquors, with the company releasing a new experimental spirit every month, limited to just 50 bottles. Its first product, The Holy Trinity, uses brewing, whisky distilling and gin rectification to create a spirit with flavours of pink pepper, coriander seed and liquorice. Its second spirit, Misconception, has been aged for three months in bourbon barrels that previously contained triple sec, and has a flavour akin to an Old Fashioned cocktail.

The company was founded by Matt McGivern and Dylan Bell, who learned their trade at the London Distillery Company. ‘The most important factors were pushing our spirit ideas as far as we could take them and building our spirits from the grain up,’ says Bell.

By creating spirits in this way – beginning with the grain – Rebel Rabbet is approaching alcohol production in the same way that many innovators are approaching food, with flavour leading development. For more, read our microtrend Cultivating Flavour.

3D-printed vegan steaks could curb farming emissions

Barcelona – Spanish start-up Novameat has developed a process to 3D-print a vegan steak made from vegetable proteins.

Led by bioengineer Giuseppe Scionti, the start-up has created a plant-based alternative to meat in an effort to reduce the impact of livestock farming. Ingredients such as rice, peas and seaweed are turned into a food paste that is then 3D-printed to form a meat-free steak.

The invention combines tissue engineering with bioprinting, creating a technology that is able to produce foods with high protein content and the fibrous consistency of meat. By doing this, Scionti hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farming, as well as improve nutrition in areas that have little access to fresh food. ‘If we continue with the current system, in the future there will be little chance of having the resources to distribute food to everyone,' he says.

Food start-ups are experimenting with how 3D printing could revolutionise the way we eat and reduce wastage. In October, 3D printing was used to create snacks from leftover food.

Novameat Novameat

Kickstarter is encouraging creators to think green

Kickstarter Environmental Resource Center Kickstarter Environmental Resource Center
Kickstarter Environmental Resource Center Kickstarter Environmental Resource Center

Global – The funding platform has launched an information hub called the Environmental Resources Center to help users create more environmentally-friendly projects.

Aimed at people and teams in the early stages of creating a new product, the guide will offer practical advice on reducing environmental impact and incorporating sustainable practices into every step of design and production. The new resource, which is currently focused on design and technology projects, covers five key areas: long-lasting design, reusability and recyclability, sustainable materials, environmentally-friendly factories and sustainable distribution.

Through the initiative, Kickstarter hopes to positively influence new product development in its earliest stages. Not only can this help encourage a more circular economy, but as projects evolve into fully-fledged companies, it can bring start-ups greater support from consumers who are becoming more conscientious about their purchases. We explore some of these ideas in our macrotrend, Whole-system Thinking.

Stat: Consumers expect more from customer service online

As they become more mobile- and digitally-driven, new research suggests that consumers increasingly demand high-quality customer service through digital channels, such as social messaging platforms. According to a report from Conversocial, the majority of consumers (81%) in the UK and US expect more from digital customer care in 2018 than they did a year ago.

Among the 2,000 survey respondents, 57% indicated that they would cease to engage with a brand after a poor digital experience. But with 51% stating that they would be ‘very likely’ to repeat a purchase from a brand that offered customer service via social messaging, there exists significant opportunities for businesses to cultivate greater customer loyalty by improving their digital service offering.

For more, explore how brands can benefit from the rise of chatbots with our dedicated Listicle.

Thought-starter: Is dry, damaged hair a thing of the past?

A new generation of haircare tools are actively working to improve hair quality and health, explains foresight writer Rhiannon McGregor.

With more than a third (35%) of consumers saying that they are motivated to buy haircare products that improve the look or feel of their hair, brands are beginning to think more intelligently about the creation of hair styling tools.

Looking beyond instant styling to focus on long-term haircare, Good Hair Day (GHD) – renowned for its straighteners – recently launched a new Platinum+ Styler that uses predictive technology to monitor the temperature of the plates 250 times per second to ensure that hair damage is minimised.

Elsewhere, Dyson has incorporated aerodynamic technology from the aviation industry into its latest hair curling tool, the Airwrap. The product makes use of the Coanda effect – the phenomenon that causes aeroplanes to lift – with high-pressure air driven through six slots in a cylindrical barrel before flowing in a circular motion and creating a mini-vortex. Through this process, the Airwrap easily curls hair without having to heat the hair above 150°C.

Read the Rejuvenation Haircare microtrend here.

Hers, US Hers, US