Ericsson Report Highlights Hot Consumer Trends in Digital Era   

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By Emma Okonji

Ericsson ConsumerLab has released the seventh edition of its annual trend report, highlighting 10 hot consumer trends that will shape businesses and human thinking for 2018 and beyond.

The report points to a paradigm shift as consumers expect digital technology to increasingly operate on human terms. According to the report, body language, facial expression and intonation will augment voice and touch to control consumer interaction with tech devices, easing adaption in an ever- increasing pace of technological change.

Analysing the 10 hot consumer trends at a press conference in Lagos at the weekend, the Country Manager, Ericsson Nigeria, Mr. Olivier Vandermoten, said that the consumer trend report would guide businesses and customers of things to expect in terms of consumer behaviour and interest in 2018 and beyond.

According to the report, one of the trends is around body language and user interface, where body language of humans will become the user interface between humans and devices.

The report noted that more than half of current users of intelligent voice assistants believe that they will use body language, expression, intonation and touch to interact with tech devices as if they were fellow humans. Some strongly feel that this will happen within a mere three years.

Another consumer trend is on augmented hearing, where 63 per cent of consumers said they would like earphones that translate languages in real time. About 52 per cent said it would help them to block out a family member’s snoring.

Eternal Newbies is another area of consumer trend where 30 per cent said new technology makes it hard to keep their skills up to date. About 46 per cent said the internet allows them to learn and forget skills faster than ever.

Social broadcasting is yet another trend, where social media is being overrun by traditional broadcasters. But half of consumers said Artificial Intelligence (AI) would be useful to check facts posted on social networks.

The report also looked at the intelligent ads trend, where advertisements may become too smart for people. According to the report, more than half of augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) users think ads will become so realistic they will eventually replace the products themselves.

In the area of uncanny communication, 50 per cent think not being able to tell the difference between human and machine would spook them out. However 40 per cent would also be spooked by a smartphone that reacts to their mood.

For the Leisure society trend, 32 per cent of students and working people do not think they need a job to develop a meaningful life. 40 per cent said they would like a robot that works and earns income for them, freeing up leisure time.

Again, the report looked at consumers’ full photo experience a room, where people are able to walk into a photo and relive a memory. Three out of four believe that in only five years they will use virtual reality to walk around in smartphone photos, Vandermoten said.

For Streets in the Air, the report said city streets may be choked with traffic but the skies remain free. According to the report, 39 per cent think their city needs a road network for drones and flying vehicles. But almost as many worry that a drone would drop on their head.

The tenth consumer trend is built around the Charged Future, where the connected world will require mobile power. More than 80 per cent believe that in only five years consumers will have long-lasting batteries that will put an end to charging concerns.

Head of Research, Ericsson ConsumerLab, Michael Björn, said: “We are entering a future where devices neither have buttons and switches nor need to be controlled digitally via smartphone. In fact, this may be a necessary change, as it would be difficult for people to learn a new user interface for every device that gets connected to the Internet of Things.

“Today, you have to know all the intricacies of the devices you use. But in the future, the devices will know you instead. For this to become a reality, devices must be able to relay complex human interaction data to cloud-based processing, and respond intuitively within milliseconds, increasing requirements on next generation connectivity.”