News 06.08.2021

Need to Know

A retro console bolstering next-gen game developers, Dubai leans on drones to create rainfall and Gen Z turn to social media for healthy eating advice.

Retro-future console Playdate spotlights indie developers

Playdate, US

US & Stockholm – Playing into the demand for alternative gaming experiences, software company Panic is making its first foray into hardware with the launch of a handheld games console called Playdate. Created in collaboration with electronics company Teenage Engineering, Playdate takes cues from retro game devices, with a black and white screen and an analogue controller called the crank. Unlike many major games consoles, Playdate operates a fortnightly drop of games from indie developers, which will eventually become a library of about 24 games.

Further expanding its appeal among gaming communities, Panic is also offering a free software development kit for users to make and distribute their own games. This creator approach echoes some of the ideas we explore within Alternet Economies, as shifting digital behaviours usher in new value frontiers for both brands and consumers.

Playdate also offers further proof of how influential the gaming sector is in shaping the future of multiple industries. Indeed, the games market is increasingly offering innovative paths for everything from product drops to youth activism.

Strategic opportunity

Discuss how your company can support and promote peer-created content. Outside of gaming, arts and media brands can design hardware that facilitates creation and sharing within fan communities

London’s new hub for cross-sector eco innovation

The Mills Fabrica, London. Photography by Mariell Lind Hansen The Mills Fabrica, London. Photography by Mariell Lind Hansen
Fabrica X at The Mills Fabrica, London. Photography by Mariell Lind Hansen Fabrica X at The Mills Fabrica, London. Photography by Mariell Lind Hansen

London – Sustainable innovation platform The Mills Fabrica is opening a circularity hub in London’s King Cross, expanding from its roots as a heritage revitalisation project for the textiles industry. Through the space, the organisation will pioneer regenerative solutions across the technology and lifestyle sectors. Its multi-faceted site includes a concept store and innovation gallery, members-only co-working spaces and a technology lab for prototyping solutions.

Encouraging next-generation talent, it will also offer a start-up incubation programme and a curated events programme around sustainable innovation. By providing a space for industry experts to come together in this way, The Mills Fabrica recognises the importance of cross-sector collaboration in driving positive change. Vanessa Cheung, founder of The Mills Fabrica, says: ‘We’re confident that having a hub in London’s King’s Cross can only catalyse our mission to drive a resilient and positive future with an ecosystem of innovators, collaborators and passionate souls.’

Elsewhere in the food and drink sector, we recent spoke with alternative food manufacturers The Urgent Company about its aims of partnering with like-minded companies to accelerate sustainability.

Strategic opportunity

Sustainable consultancies should break out of their industry silos and facilitate ideas sharing between normally unrelated sectors. For example, environmentally friendly innovations in the food sector might also benefit fashion companies

Dubai stimulates rainfall with cloud-busting drones

Dubai, UAE – With humidity rising to dangerous levels in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), government-led organisation The National Centre of Meteorology is creating artificial rainfall through drone technology. Building on the country’s previous experiments with rain enhancements, these drones use electrical charges in the form of laser beams to stimulate precipitation from clouds over Dubai.

The technology being is a type of weather modification known as cloud seeding, which is based on research by Scientists from the University of Reading. Professor Giles Harrison of the university explains: ‘Our project is about changing the balance of charges on the tiniest cloud droplets, a neglected aspect of clouds which could revolutionise our ability to manipulate rainfall in areas that need it most.’ By adjusting weather conditions in this way, Dubai recognises the need to invest in the health of its urban landscapes to benefit both current and future generations.

Looking ahead to 2030, global cities will need to take cues from such innovations to reverse the realities of the climate crisis. Discover more ideas in this vein within our Future Cities series.

Reimagining Climate Change at the Museum of the Future, Dubai

Strategic opportunity

Technology brands should reflect on their research and development processes to design with the needs of urban environments in mind. How might existing products have the potential to protect from natural disasters?

Stat: Gen Z need clearer healthy food advice

Desires of the Flesh by Cathrine Disney. Photography by Tom Mannion Desires of the Flesh by Cathrine Disney. Photography by Tom Mannion

Young people aged 18–24 in Europe feel uncatered for when it comes to healthy food advice, according to a survey by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which found that many are turning to social media to find the information they need.

According to the study, a majority (75%) say they need clearer advice on how to eat healthily, while 65% argue that they received limited healthy eating education at school. To fill this education gap, 67% say they regularly look at social media content – on platforms such as TikTok or Instagram – to find out about healthier food options.

These findings point to a generation that are willing to take ownership of their eating habits. And where large brands and institutions are failing them, they are turning to familiar online spaces to build their own knowledge of mental and physical wellbeing. While we’ve previously identified the influence of viral recipes on TikTok, there is a burgeoning opportunity for such platforms to offer advice on healthy habits.

Strategic opportunity

Food brands can work with popular social media creators to communicate advice around healthy eating habits in an engaging and informative way. Aim for bite-sized content that young audiences can easily identify with

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