Need to Know
31 : 07 : 19

An immersive modular treehouse that gets taller with demand, Flex & Seal reduces supplies and space for shipping, and Earth Overshoot Day gets earlier.

Printworks augments the nightclub flyer

Printworks London AW19 campaign by OMSE

London – The music venue has unveiled a billboard campaign that combines 3D typography with augmented reality (AR).

Created by design agency OMSE, the series of interactive, typographic designs come to life when viewed through a phone camera via the Printworks’ AR app. Viewers can use the app to interact with the imagery, exploring it from various angles for a three-dimensional billboard experience.

The designs are inspired by the machinery of the printing process, in a nod to Printworks’ heritage as Western Europe’s largest printing factory. The project is one of the first applications to show how AR and interactive typologies such as Weird Type can be combined with traditional out-of-home advertising.

Explore our macrotrend Programmable Realities to see how technology is being used to transform advertising formats into digital consumer touchpoints.

A prefab treehouse that grows with demand

Bert by Precht Bert by Precht
Bert by Precht Bert by Precht

Austria – Architectural studio Precht has designed Bert, a modular treehouse for tiny-home startup Baumbau.

The prefabricated, wooden trunk-shaped treehouse is modular in form, with a cosy interior and large, circular glass windows that immerse users in their verdant surroundings. Each of Bert's cylindrical modules allows the space to grow and adapt, housing kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and living rooms that can be used in isolation or combined into a branching tree-like structure. The design also has the flexibility to become an off-grid eco-retreat with solar panels and composting facilities.

'We believe that the future of tourism is not in large hotels and mass tourism, but rather in special buildings that offer unique experiences. With Bert, we cater for the people who seek adventure, nature and inspiration,’ says Rudolf Obauer, CEO of Baumbau.

By adopting a model where a hotel physically grows in line with demand, Bert points to a future of more sustainable stays. For more, explore our listicle delving into the different techniques cities are using to combat overtourism.

Amazon is upskilling 100,000 of its workers

US – The e-commerce giant is investing millions of dollars to provide upskilling programmes for one in three of its US employees.

The programmes will allow workers from all backgrounds to access training to move into highly skilled roles across Amazon’s corporate offices, technology hubs and stores. They can also pursue career paths outside of the business, such as nursing or aviation mechanics. The company is dedicating £576m($700m, €628m) to its Upskilling 2025 initiative.

‘For us, creating these opportunities is just the beginning. While many of our employees want to build their careers here, for others it might be a stepping stone to different aspirations. We think it’s important to invest in our employees, and to help them gain new skills and create more professional options for themselves,’ says Beth Galetti, senior vice-president of HR at Amazon.

Amazon is using its status to educate its workers, empowering a disconnected nation of people who feel left behind by the status quo. For more, read our macrotrend The American Middle.

Volkswagen VR training programme

Flex & Seal tackles excess parcel packaging

Scotch Flex & Seal

Minnesota – Materials company 3M has developed a new type of packaging that could significantly reduce the time, supplies and space needed to ship products.

The material, called the Flex & Seal Shipping Roll, requires neither tape nor protective filler, and can be customised to fit around any object weighing under 1.3kg. The innovation is designed to target the excess packaging used in retail’s growing on-demand economy. Compared to cardboard boxes, the bright blue roll can reduce time spent packing, the amount of packaging materials and the space needed to ship packages by up to 50%, according to the company.

The material, which is available in various sizes, is made up of three layers: a durable, waterproof and tear-resistant outer film, a built-in cushioning layer to protect items, and an adhesive layer that sticks to itself. Although Flex & Seal is made from plastic, it can be recycled at certain retail outlets and recyclers, and 3M plans to continuing developing the packaging to make it easier to recycle.

To address the growing environmental impact of e-commerce, innovators are creating smart packaging solutions for the delivery and return of online purchases.

Stat: Earth Overshoot Day has fallen earlier than ever

Earth Overshoot Day, on which humanity’s resource consumption for the year exceeds Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources, has this year fallen on on 29 July – the earliest day yet recorded.

According to a new report by the Global Footprint Network, this means that humanity is now using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s eco-system can regenerate. Furthermore, in order to produce enough resources to meet our needs, we would need 1.75 Earths.

The report reveals that the cost of our ecological overspending is becoming evident in the form of deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss and the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to climate change and extreme weather. Over the past 20 years, Earth Overshoot Day has moved forward by two months, revealing the speed at which resources are being consumed.

Our obsession with economic growth is proving unsustainable and highly damaging on the planet. In response, brands must consider overhauling their practices in support of a Post-growth Society.

Thought-starter: Will AI improve the future of your business?

BioBeats, a digital health company, is using artificial intelligence to improve workplace mental health. Nicola Hemmings, its Lead Psychologist, explains how.

BioBeats is a digital health and artificial intelligence company that specialises in creating a targeted and personalised programme for mental wellbeing in the workplace. ‘Through the use of an app and a wearable device, live biofeedback enables users to track the signals that their bodies are telling them about their wellbeing,’ explains Hemmings.

‘We're not just about providing live data to the individual,’ she adds. ‘Of course, it’s really useful and important to understand the signals your body is giving off but what do you do next? How is that relevant to the workplace?’

According to Hemmings, BioBeats focuses on three main source of workplace stress or stressors: an overload of demands, a lack of control, and a lack of social support. ‘By focusing on these three main issues, an organisation can understand how best to target those areas,’ she says.

Read the full Q&A here.

BioBeats app
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