News 19.08.2022

Need to Know

Tequila enters the metaverse, farming equipment that prevents soil degradation, and Generation Z pay the price of inflation.

Jose Cuervo is bringing tequila to the metaverse

Jose Cuervo Metadistillery on Decentraland designed by Rojkind Arquitectos and Bompas & Parr for Jose Cuervo

Mexico – Seventy years after coming to the US to establish the margarita as the nation’s favourite cocktail, Jose Cuervo is bringing its signature spirit to the digital frontier with the launch of the first-ever metaverse distillery. Opening on the 3D virtual world platform Decentraland, the ‘metadistillery’ will play host to virtual experiences for over-21s, be a source for education on all things tequila, and act as a platform for limited-edition product launches and entertainment activations.

Designed by Mexico-based Rojkind Arquitectos, the structure of the virtual building is based on the roots of the agave plant – the central ingredient used in tequila. Jose Cuervo also worked alongside multi-sensory experience designers Bompas & Parr to shape the aesthetic of the virtual world and design the visitor experience. Each zone invites visitors to take part in games that illustrate a different part of the process of making the spirit.

With consumers increasingly interested in interacting with brands in this emerging digital world, we're seeing the rise of Metaverse Architecture, as a growing number of brands and institutions tap prestigious design and architecture firms to help elevate their virtual presence.

Strategic opportunity

Work alongside designers and virtual reality specialists to bring a unique twist and a distinctive identity to brand experimentation in the metaverse

This portable device is improving food security

Terra Nova by Ryan Waterhouse, UK Terra Nova by Ryan Waterhouse, UK
Terra Nova by Ryan Waterhouse, UK Terra Nova by Ryan Waterhouse, UK

UK – To combat the threat that soil degradation poses to food supply chains, design graduate Ryan Waterhouse has created a portable device called Terra Nova that analyses the health of top soil.

The Terra Nova device measures the moisture content of top soil, as well as monitoring its levels of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. The data collected by the device helps farmers and gardeners detect soil degradation, offering guidance on how to improve soil quality for the benefit of their crops. ‘The world grows 90% of its food in top soil – the uppermost layer of soil – making it one of the most critical components in our food system,’ explains designer Ryan Waterhouse.

Waterhouse designed the smart farming equipment as his senior project in the product design school at Bournemouth University after learning that soil degradation poses an immediate threat to agricultural land. With severe drought currently threatening food security across Europe and the UK, such inventions will become more important as the Climate Crisis makes erratic weather patterns a global certainty.

Strategic opportunity

How can companies help ensure that innovations like the Terra Nova reach lower-income countries where food security poses the biggest problem?

The building blocks of life are now freely available online

A year on from the initial open-source launch of AlphaFold, DeepMind’s AI system to predict the 3D structure of proteins, the company is releasing a database containing the predicted structures for nearly every protein known to science. Containing some 200m structures, the release represents a significant scientific breakthrough and has the potential to dramatically expand our understanding of biology.

The database works like a Google search for proteins, allowing scientists easy access to predicted models of the proteins they are studying, significantly accelerating the research process. The latest update includes predicted structures for plants, bacteria, animals and other organisms, unlocking countless applications for work on real-world issues around sustainability, food security, combatting disease and antibiotic resistance. ‘AlphaFold is the singular and momentous advance in life science that demonstrates the power of AI. Determining the 3D structure of a protein used to take many months or years, it now takes seconds,’ says Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

We’ve tracked how Open-source Sustainability platforms are providing insights that help designers and creators improve the environmental impact of their work, and AlphaMind continues to expand this notion, making information freely available to maximise the potential benefits of the breakthrough.

DeepMind, UK

Strategic opportunity

Consider how sharing proprietary information can unlock benefits for consumers, build trust and position a brand as a thought-leader

Stat: Gen Z’s purchasing power plummets

Zalando and Adidas Zalando and Adidas

The purchasing power of Generation Z is far below that of previous generations. According to research by customer review company Consumer Affairs, which analysed data from the National Association of Realtors, the purchasing power of Gen Z consumers in the US is 86% lower than that of Baby Boomers in their 20s.

Indeed, according to the survey, in real terms wages are falling sharply. Despite an 80% rise in wages for Americans since the 1970s, the benefits of higher earnings have been outweighed by the average Consumer Price Index, which has increased by about 500%. Rents and house prices have both skyrocketed, too. Today, Gen Z buyers are paying roughly 100% more for their homes. The cost of education has shot up as well, with the average price of tuition at a public university increasing by 310%.

For young Americans in 2022, one of the biggest financial challenges is the cost of living crisis. Even though earnings have grown since 1970, they still haven’t even come close to keeping pace with the sharp rise in commodity prices over the past 50 years.

Strategic opportunity

How can companies actively assist young people to get a foothold on the property ladder? Consider hiring financial advisers to speak on this subject as an employee benefit

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