Tech-Bites: exploring our favourite tech trends for 2021

The acceleration of digital adoption during 2020 will become an important factor of change and it will drive technologies assessment during the year ahead. To have a better idea of how the future will look like, we asked our experts at Qindle to share their view on it.

Qindle’s Creative Director, Strategic Design Consultants and Product Designers will present every week their favourite tech-bite for 2021.

Keep watching this space!

Personalised transport in the era of passengers 

Tech trend by Wojciech Stadnicki, Senior Industrial Designer at Qindle.

Wojciech Stadnicki, Senior Industrial Designer at Qindle

What excites me about our future is the way we will travel. A new era of mobility is bringing entirely new possibilities to users and completely redefining the car concept.

The worldwide Mobility-as-a-Service (‘MaaS’) market is growing significantly, with a CAGR of over 25% from 2018 to 2025. The key concept behind MaaS is offering travellers mobility solutions based on their travel needs. Companies like Sixt or Volvo’s mobility brand ‘M’ already allow users to drive a car of their choice for a defined time period, with just the swipe of a finger. Despite the convenience that today’s MaaS services offer, they lack the possibility to travel without paying attention to the road combined with a truly personal experience. Autonomous transport is the key to ‘levelling up’ today’s MaaS experiences.

The world is making progress in this area. More than 80 companies – including giants like Uber – are currently testing over 1400 self-driving vehicles across the United States. In the town of Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland you can already take a ride in an autonomous bus. Recently acquired by Amazon, start-up Zoox is busy working on an autonomous urban pod, which will allow users to personalise their experience during a shared ride by adjusting the air or music to their liking. This is just a sample of the personalisation possibilities that autonomous vehicles could bring.

The Renault Morphoz concept car envisions how the car form, space and functionality may transform to better suit our needs. I see an opportunity to embed more of these techologies into shared autonomous vehicles, bringing more personalisation and unifying the production process while reaching a wide audience.

A great example of deeper personalization in ‘private shared’ rides is Seymourpowell’s modular Quarter Car concept, which can transform from a co-working space to a private leisure area. Passengers can use their time on the road for entertainment, work or socialising. Digital services like Netflix, online gaming platforms or info-tainment will be obvious elements to build into our future journeys. The possibilities go far beyond the digital world, too: Aprilli’s Autonomous Travel Suite suggests that our car transport and hospitality sectors will merge, offering passengers the comfort of a hotel room on the road, with complementary services like food delivery on-the-go.

It’s hard to predict exactly when fully autonomous vehicles will appear on our streets en masse. Policy regulations across the world need to be unified and despite the expansion of 5G, data infrastructure is still a serious issue. People will have to build trust in robo chauffeurs, too. Designers across many disciplines will have to take up this exciting challenge to ensure that the future of transport feels seamless, but familiar. In the end, everybody likes technology but nobody likes the complexity that comes with it, which remains a critical challenge for the industry.

The era of passengers is ahead of us. It’s time to think of the possibilities it could bring to your business, be it through embedding your services or products into the passenger experience or implementing autonomous technologies themselves into your operations.

Food From Thin Air: FoodTech trends for a healthier planet 

Tech trend by Anna Schuck, Strategic Design Consultant at Qindle.

Anna Shuck, Strategic Design Consultant at Qindle

Food is interwoven with so many dimensions of our lives – it’s personal, social and deeply cultural. However, it’s also well known that our food system is on a collision course with our planetin part due to resource-intensive animal agriculture. Plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are flooding markets to serve a growing segment of ‘flexitarian’ consumers who, like me, are trying (and sometimes failing) to eat their way to a better worldWhat does the future hold for this foodtech trend? Will turning up to a barbecue with bean ‘sausages’ remain distinctly uncool, or become the norm? 

The success of startups in this sector suggests the market for meat and dairy alternatives is growing rapidly, with no signs of slowing. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat products are flying off the shelves: Burger King foot traffic spiked 17% upon launch of the Impossible Whopper in a set of test locations. Meanwhile, Swedish company Havre Global – the parent of popular plant milk brand Oatly – has just cut a deal with Starbucks coffee, and is reportedly eyeing a $10B valuation in its U.S. IPO. Globally, European consumers are leading demand, with North America in hot pursuit. 

In coming years, we’ll see these startups develop innovative base ingredients for our food, potentially abandoning ‘plant-based’ materials to disconnect food production from agriculture altogether. For example, Finnish startup Solar Foods and U.S. company Air Protein use electricity to produce edible protein from carbon dioxide. Closer to today’s animal reality, lab-grown meats are another interesting prospect: though more sustainable, their use of animal stem cells will remain controversial for the near future. Dutch company Mosa Meat is leading in this space. The future won’t all be about startups, either – FMCG multinationals will make thoughtful acquisitions and R&D investments to gain credible share of this trend. 

There will be bumps in the road, though. FoodTech companies offering plant-based alternatives need to drive down their cost base to be more price-competitive with their animal-based counterparts (though this will come with time, and scale). Second, despite having a long history in Asia, there are still mixed perceptions of mock meat in the region. Western companies entering the region will need to tailor their entry plans, campaigns and even products to suit the varying tastes of sub-regions across the continent. Finally, this market can expect continued resistance from traditional animal agricultural industries – but there is hope that consumer demand will prevail. 

All consumer companies will be wise to review their product propositions to make sure they are prepared for the rise in conscious consumerism, in the realm of food and beyond. Incorporating more sustainable practices into society is the only way forward, and both companies and consumers must take responsibility for the shift. Is there scope for new, more sustainable product development? Or could this trend present an investment or acquisition opportunity? In the meantime, you’ll find me shelling out my life savings on imitation burgers – our planet is worth it. 

AR is here to stay

Tech trend by Lian van Meerendonk, Strategic Design Consultant at Qindle.

Lian van Meerendonk, Strategic Design Consultant at Qindle

Augmented reality showed unprecedented growth in 2020, with new and exciting applications coming to the foreAnd this is only the start: the worldwide market is forecast to increase dramatically in the next few years (CAGR of 43.8% from 2021 to 2028*). It’s clear that AR can no longer be left out of our future vision.  

Enhancing the physical world using digital tools is interesting from both a B2C and B2B perspective. The increased commercial use of AR technology is backed by the general acceptance of digital interaction, especially since Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of immersive technologies among consumers and professionals. 

AR has the potential to bring value to a very broad set of industries, including retail, automotive, healthcare and travel; it has grown well beyond the confines of the entertainment industry. In retail, mainstream brands such as Sephora and Warby Parker offer virtual try-ons, which has the potential to become an industry standard. In this case, AR is expected to bring a next level of digital consumer experience and minimise returned productIn addition, AR advertisements are growing rapidly. Interactive and lifelike, this technology enables marketeers to create more emotional and personal connections with their audience. We can expect this new type of brand experiences to appear both inside and outside our homes; Apple recently announced it would add AR content to Apple TV+ this year. 

However, the opportunities go further than the consumer business. AR can also facilitate better remote customer service, enabling eyes on location, offering tailor-made help on the spot. Porsche connects their HQ tech with technical experts in the field using AR, reducing repair times by 40%, confirming AR can also contribute to the bottom line. 

We will see this technology take its place in the world of autonomous driving (e.g. Nissan Invisible-to-Visible technology) to make driving more comfortable, safe and exciting. In healthcare, AR enables doctors to assist remotely, or work more effectivelyFor example, AccuVein reveals where a patient’s veins are located, making a ‘correct first stick’ 3.5x more likely. 

I believe we’re on the brink of understanding what AR can bring to an even wider range of industriesWith the rise of complementary technologies like artificial intelligence, 5G and LiDAR, the outlook for more immersive AR experiences can only be exciting 

The technology itself is advanced and ready for widespread use, however the accompanying hardware needs to catch up. Whether it will be the Apple Glass or Mojo Lens that successfully takes AR mainstreamthe hardware will need to be instantly present and unobtrusive to allow us to experience our new phygital world without friction. 

My piece of advice, AR will soon be embedded into our daily lives. Embrace the technology and explore how it could benefit your business, be it through improving customer experience, building your brand or increasing operational excellence. 

 *market size to reach USD 340.16 billion in 2028 /