By Emma Okonji

A study conducted by Ericsson ConsumerLab in October 2016 and published last week, revealed increased demand for artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality among consumers globally.
According to the report, consumers expect artificial intelligence to move from assistants to managers, and that virtual reality will be indistinguishable from physical reality in only three years.

The Ericsson ConsumerLab report, is the sixth edition of its annual trend report, focused on ’10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2017 and beyond.’
Analysing the report at a press briefing in Lagos at the weekend, the Country Manager, Ericsson Nigeria, Mr. Johan Jemdahl, said that the insights in the 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2017 report were based on Ericsson ConsumerLab’s global research activities of over 20 years, as well as data points from an online survey of advanced internet users in 14 major cities across the world, performed in October 2016. Although the study only represents 27 million citizens, their early adopter profile makes them important to understand when exploring future trends.

Reflecting on the rise of virtual reality, Head of Research, Ericsson ConsumerLab, Michael Björn, said: “Beyond real time, I believe we should be talking about reality time. In fact, what we call reality becomes ever more personal and subjective. Consumers not only surround themselves with the like-minded on social networks, but also are also starting to customise the way they experience the world with augmented and virtual reality technologies.”
According to Björn, consumers also want the future to remain fully mobile, implying that demand for battery-friendly, instant and fast connectivity is set to grow rapidly. In that sense, reality time means it is time for 5G networks.”

The report further explained that artificial intelligence has become so important that consumers see it playing a much more prominent role than before, both in society and at work. The report said 35 per cent of advanced internet users want artificial intelligence advisor at work, and one in four would like artificial intelligence as their manager.
Jemdahl listed the 10 trends for 2017 and beyond to include AI Everywhere, where 35 per cent of advanced internet users want an AI advisor at work, and one in four would like an AI as their manager. At the same time, almost half are concerned that AI robots will soon make a lot of people lose their jobs.

Another trend is about Setting the Pace for Internet of Things (IoT), which the report explained that consumers are increasingly using automated applications, encouraging IoT adoption. Two in five believe smartphones will learn their habits and perform activities on their behalf automatically.
The next trend to watch out for is about Pedestrians Drive Autonomous Cars, where car drivers may not exist in the future. The report predicted that one in four pedestrians would feel safer crossing a street if all cars were autonomous, and 65 per cent of them would prefer to have an autonomous car.

For Merged Reality, the repot said almost four out of five virtual reality users believe that virtual reality will be indistinguishable from reality in only three years. Half of respondents are already interested in gloves or shoes that allow them to interact with virtual objects.
The report also argued that as autonomous cars become reality, car sickness issues will increase, and three in ten foresee needing sickness pills. One in three also want motion sickness pills for use with virtual and augmented reality technology.
In the area of Smart Device Safety Paradox, the report said more than half already use emergency alarms, tracking or notifications on their smartphones. Of those who say their smartphone makes them feel safer, three in five say they take more risks because they rely on their phone.

For Social Silos, the report said people willingly turn their social networks into silos. One in three says social networks are their main source of news. And more than one in four value their contacts’ opinions more than politicians’ viewpoints.
In the area of Augmented Personal Reality, the report said more people would like to use augmented reality glasses to illuminate dark surroundings and highlight dangers.
Laying emphasis on Privacy Divide, the report said two in five advanced internet users want to use only encrypted services, but people are divided. Almost half would like to have just reasonably good privacy across all services, and more than one out of three believes privacy no longer exists.

The tenth consumer trend report, which is focused on Big Tech for All, the report said more than two out of five advanced internet users would like to get all their products from the biggest five IT companies, and that this will happen only five years from now.