NESTA is an innovation charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. Every year they publish their predictions for the coming 12 months based on the research and projects they have come across or been working on.

In 2016 they have 10 predictions which BIC Clients should consider when planning their Innovation Strategies and new product developments.

Here with acknowledgment to Nesta in Part Two is a consideration of three more of the predictions:

4. Retail Starts to Perform

Predictions about the growth of online shopping leading to the demise of the physical shopping trip seem to have been far off the mark. The high street continues to draw shoppers in their millions, seeking physical experiences that are as much about satisfying the need for leisure and entertainment as the purchase of products.

It is predicted that in 2016 new partnerships with the arts and cultural sector will deliver the next big development in experiential retail. Typical example is Burberry where its Regent Street shop in London has used RFID (radio frequency identification) microchips embedded into certain clothes where customers can look into a mirror-like screen revealing how the garment would look like on a catwalk. Stores will also host master classes showing consumers how to use their products and there will be opportunities for companies to be part of an ever growing experiential world of retail using technology to create an immersive game/theatrical experience.

5. Challenge Driven Universities

Recent years have brought a huge expansion of student numbers – around 150 million worldwide and in parallel university wealth has mushroomed, reflected in a myriad of building projects and rising salaries for university leaders. But critics worry that universities aren’t using their new strength to give more back to the places they’re based in. Universities could be providing much more brainpower to solve the problems of the communities they live in whilst at the same time preparing themselves for the future.

Some Universities are already doing this by encouraging students to do most of their course work on unsolved problems on the cutting edge of science or social innovation rather than only learning about existing knowledge.

It would be great to see students designing and implementing projects around issues like water, gender, equality or malnutrition. Digital platforms would help them to collaborate with other teams worldwide to solve problems on their doorstep.

6. Audio Tech makes more than Music

“This year we will interact with technology through sound as well as light, influencing everything from how we control our devices to how we investigate crime.” – Jessica Bland – Nesta’s Principal Researcher in Futures.

We have already seen a generation of bedroom DJs and this has matured into a world of ways to create and not just consume music and this has been used to help people with learning disabilities and those that are deaf. Jaguar Land Rover has been working with ultrasound waves to create invisible air-based controls for drivers to control their settings without reaching for a button. Scientists have been working on a new technique for floating objects in mid-air and this could lead to the development of new 3D physical displays or ways of manipulating objects inside the body without cutting the skin.

Research continues to develop advances in technology that can listen into our everyday activities potentially leading to allowing the use of acoustic evidence as part of our justice system. Such technology would have been very useful in 1978 over the case of a hoax phone recording of a man claiming to be the Yorkshire Ripper which seriously delayed the investigation. The devices listening in our living rooms could be put to work creating a new database of voice recordings for research.

These are all areas companies can be looking into as part of their own planning for the future.