News 08.03.2024

Need to Know

The Sims 4 bolsters in-game inclusion with the vitiligo skin update, deputy foresight editor Dan Hastings’ Foresight Friday and the youth bias of the marketing industry.

The Sims moves the dial on representation with vitiligo skin update

Vitiligo Skin Update in collaboration with Winnie Harlow for The Sims 4

Global – The Sims 4 is setting new standards for representation in gaming. Together with Canadian activist and model Winnie Harlow, The Sims has introduced the option to portray characters with vitiligo in the game.

Electronic Arts’ life simulation video game is notorious for its great character personalisation, allowing players to create unique and highly expressive Sims. The latest update pushes authentic representation in gaming to the next level, adding the vitiligo skin condition to customisation options. Players can now pick from 61 patterns of vitiligo, spanning all ethnicities and skin types, with the possibility to make it more or less prominent.

For The Sims fans, the update is a meaningful step towards inclusive gaming. ‘As a child, I spent a lot of time playing The Sims, and I think it’s so beautiful to be able to represent your true self in-game,’ Harlow said in a statement. ‘This partnership is a powerful statement encouraging players to embrace what makes them unique – both in-game and in real life.’

Read more on how the women gamer community is pushing for better diversity and inclusion in gaming in our Women Who Play report.

Strategic opportunity

Democratising deeper levels of avatar customisation is just one way to drive inclusion. By partnering with Harlow to roll out the vitiligo skin update, The Sims has shown how to celebrate diversity with a community-first mindset

Smart earrings could revolutionise wearable health tech

Thermal Earring by University of Washington, US Thermal Earring by University of Washington, US
Thermal Earring by University of Washington, US Thermal Earring by University of Washington, US

US – Thermal Earrings, a ground-breaking innovation in wearable technology from researchers at The University of Washington, promises to unlock new ways to merge health monitoring with fashion. Unlike traditional wearables, which focus on wrist or finger biometrics, Thermal Earrings use the earlobe to provide more accurate body temperature readings, essential for tracking health indicators like ovulation and menstrual cycles in women.

Powered by two sensors, the earrings offer precise measurements that account for ambient temperature variations. The compact design incorporates low-power Bluetooth connectivity, enabling seamless data transmission to paired smartphones. Challenges remain, however, in implementing sustainable charging methods and optimising the functionality of the second earring.

Beyond functionality, the potential for stylish customisation is a key feature; the earrings can be adorned with charms and gemstones. This innovation marks a significant step forward in wearable health accessories, offering both functionality and fashion appeal, a topic we explore further in Wearables: The At-home Doctor.

Strategic opportunity

Creating devices that are accessible to all is the next challenge for the tech wearable industry. Collaborate and share knowledge with other businesses to find ways to bring the price of wearables down, and thereby reach a wider audience

Foresight Friday: Dan Hastings, deputy foresight editor

Photography by The Future Laboratory, UK Photography by The Future Laboratory, UK

Every Friday, we offer an end-of-week wrap-up of the topics, issues, ideas and virals we’re all talking about. This week, deputy foresight editor Dan Hastings dives into Paris Olympics 2024 drama, Nollywood and plus-size fashion.

: Is Paris prepared for the Olympics? With the ongoing bed bug crisis and a public transport system struggling to accommodate even local commuters, the National Olympic Committee of France is facing more challenges. Last week, a news magazine announced that pop singer Aya Nakamura (the most streamed French artist in the world) had visited President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace to be officially invited as the opening ceremony headliner. Dozens of Conservative pundits are now wondering whether a Black French singer born in Mali can represent France. Nakamura was also asked to sing some Edith Piaf classics rather than her global hits, which I guess were not French enough. It gets even worse with this ‘official Olympics choreography’

: With an estimated 2,500 films produced annually, Nollywood is currently the second-largest movie industry in terms of output after India’s Bollywood. Nigerian talent agent and film history collector Taiwo Adeyemi is trying to document and preserve the history of Nollywood in a new permanent collection exhibited in Lagos

: In other news: a stretch of road in downtown Detroit charges electric vehicles while they drive; Twitch is going all out on mobile streaming; and the cover spread of supermodel Iman in Harper’s Bazaar Arabia is a reminder that fashion magazines’ first purpose was to make art, not profit

Quote of the week

‘Why can designers make these goofy-looking oversized clothes but can’t make clothes for plus size people?’

Victoria, aka the Fat Fab Feminist

Stat: The marketing industry has an ageism problem

Photography by Antoni Shkraba, Poland Photography by Antoni Shkraba, Poland

UK – Marketing has a youth bias problem. Data from Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey of more than 3,000 UK marketers reveals that 70.2% are aged between 26 and 45, showing a lack of senior talent in the industry. The data also shows that two in five (40%) of marketers are aged between 26 and 35, and 30% are aged 36–45.

Although a slight improvement on 2023, when the same survey found that almost three quarters of marketers (74.6%) were aged between 26 and 45, this lack of diversity means the industry is missing out on important voices that can provide different angles and outlooks across different projects, something that is increasingly important as youth culture enters its Flat Age Future.

In our Work States Futures macrotrend, we have identified how initiatives such as reverse mentoring (junior and senior employees learning from one another) will continue to grow in popularity in effective workplaces, but also that intergenerational teams are key to inspiring businesses to solve problems differently.

Strategic opportunity

Are you offering continued learning courses for employees who want to learn new skills across different departments? Consider how to attract talent from the Boomer generation to address the industry’s distinct age gap, as this will also allow younger employees to benefit from diverse viewpoints

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