New Next Now (Trends for December 2016)

15 December 2016 | Keeping Up with the Trends

Game changer? @Nintendo leads our tech trends as it has set the gaming world on fire with the reveal of its latest innovation in the video game market: the Nintendo Switch. Why all the commotion? When Switch hits shelves next year, it’ll be the first gaming device to bring console and mobile gaming together into one unique package. The reveal trailer opens with a traditional gaming set up — a TV and controller — but wastes no time showcasing the “switch”, which allows gamers to pick up the device and go mobile, and even bring friends into the mix, all without ever leaving the game.

This is classic Nintendo, writes Nick Wingfield (@nickwingfield) for @nytimes: “…Nintendo often zigs while its rivals zag…. [and] has been more concerned with giving gamers novel ways of playing games, rather than creating the most immersive experiences possible”. With the meteoric rise of mobile gaming, and Sony and Microsoft already crowding the “hardcore” gaming market, it’s hard to argue against Nintendo’s strategy. But some have, including mobile analyst Dr. Serkan Toto (@serkantoto), who recently shared his thoughts with James Brightman (@Bright_Pixels) at @GIBiz: “The Switch lacks a killer feature, and I think it will be very difficult for Nintendo to win back the casual gamers that are mostly on mobile now”. [Read More Now]

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Turn off the TV! When The Nextsensing Project published its findings on the future of television [link], many probably doubted whether its predictions would come to pass. Well, they are! One more sign: The Disney-owned sports network, @ESPN, is seeing record dropoff in subscribers. Says Brian Fung (@b_fung) in @washingtonpost: “The staggering losses have led to calls by analysts for Disney to spin off or sell the beleaguered network, which has lost 9 million subscribers in three years.” The power of social media seems to be overtaking the TV industry behemoths. Thanks for spotting this, @dougscripts‬! [Read More Now]


Say “au revoir” to the office. This month, @Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel (@skasriel) penned an op-ed for @wef about the future of the global workplace. He writes: “By 2030, millennials will have senior positions. They will bring with them this mentality that work doesn’t need to be 9-to-5 nor does it have to be done in an office space”. It’s imperative for both managers and companies to be ready for this shift, Kasriel believes, and to keep employees engaged and learning. But that’s not all. Kasriel also sees the “urgent” need for a more open, collaborative approach, where “men and women can achieve their potential irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion, country of origin or country of residence” and “where pay is fair and there is an appropriate safety net for all”. [Read More Now]


Responsive leadership! Powerful article by Zamantungwa Khumalo (@Zamantungwa_K): “This is what responsive leadership really means”. See if this opening paragraph doesn’t make you want to check it out: “A few months ago I was producing a talk radio show on one of the most listened to mid-morning radio shows in Gauteng, South Africa. The first hour of the show is an open line, where listeners can reflect on some of the stories that have made headlines in the previous day and share with us what they think are solutions to our country’s pressing challenges. An old man, Mandla, called into the show and wanted to share his story with our listeners. What followed was the epitome of what responsive leadership means to me and a testimony that leadership isn’t exclusively for people in positions of power, but applies to every one of us, regardless of age, profession and title.” This is a special bonus link from World Economic Forum. [Read More Now]


Listen up. Any biologic trends? Sure. Our bodies have a lot to say, if we’re willing to listen. Aviva Rutkin (@realavivahr) at @NewScientist reports that an incredible new “smart” monitoring device might soon help doctors detect illnesses using sounds. The device is tiny–just 20 millimetres–and sticks to the skin like a temporary tattoo, but it’s powerful enough to pick up a wide range of vibrations, including heartbeats. The built-in sensors can accurately identify heart murmurs and blood clots and can even be programmed to determine spoken words. Says Dr. Reza Bahmanyar from the Imperial College in London: “[This technology]… basically opens a new dimension of information”, implying that the device could provide a breakthrough in the early detection of serious medical issues. [Read More Now]


Smart cement? From @nwtls: Michael Irving has a fascinating story on cement that can now be “programmed”. “The modern world is likely home to more concrete jungles than natural ones, and although we’ve been using the material for hundreds of years, the recipe can always use some improvement. Researchers at Rice University have found a way to “program” cement particles into specific shapes in order to make concrete that’s stronger, less porous, and more environmentally friendly.” [Read More Now]


Art of the… smell? Sissel Tolaas is not like other artists. For more than 20 years, the Berliner with a background in mathematics and chemistry has used the medium of smell to create her elaborate “SmellScapes”, according to Jordan Todorov (@jordan_todorov) writing for @atlasobscura. The value, Tolaas explains, is tremendous: smells can tell us a lot about who we are and the issues we face at any given time in history. Her current focus lies in mapping the smells of major cities across the globe. “Every city has an identity… the odor depends on things like climate change, geography, demography, and so on”, says Tolaas, who has collected everything from body odor to auto exhaust. She believes her data will allow future generations to learn about (and experience, if they dare) some measure of today’s reality. [Read More Now]


Pining for the sky. The aviation industry quietly recorded a new “first” last week. @AlaskaAir Flight 4, crossing the United States from Seattle to Washington, D.C., became the first-ever commercial flight to use biofuel made from wood waste. It’s the first step in a new initiative to reach zero carbon emissions by 2020, reports Kristen Schmitt (@kristen_schmitt) for @SmithsonianMag. The wood is harvested from private forests in the US and processed through a new chemical technique that speeds up fermentation of the wood sugars, which are then used to create the biofuel. Patrick Gruber (@PatrickGruber), CEO of biofuels company @Gevo_Inc, is the one to thank for the innovation, but he’s hungry for more: “We can do wood or corn starch or beet sugar… whatever carbohydrate source from anywhere in the world”. Project co-director Mike Wolcott sees the technology having a greater impact: “…a 70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to our conventional petroleum fuel”. [Read More Now]


Quickly, now. Three trends to keep an eye on: (1) “A robot is being developed to wash, dry, sort and fold your clothes.” [Read More Now] (2) Want to read a novel in the form of… a text message? Anthony Ha (@anthonyha) says you can. [Read More Now] (3) Interested in a quick summary of the differences between old and new medicine? Check this tweet by @EricTopol. [Read More Now]


Women on the rise. Some exciting news from our Asian friends: according to management consulting firm @OliverWyman, over 30 per cent of asset/fund managers in Asia are women. That figure easily dwarfs the global average (15 per cent). In China alone, female managers run about one-quarter of the country’s funds. Why the recent trend? Reports Li Xiang for @ChinaDaily: “Rapid economic development” and a still-burgeoning financial industry in Asia have resulted in a shortage of both experience and relevant management skills. “…[we] needed lots of new professionals quickly and firms were willing to search beyond the traditional talent pool to recruit and promote female investment professionals”, says @Fidelity portfolio manager Gillian Kwek. But it’s not all about gender. Says @DianrongChina CMO Pat Jing: “This has created more opportunities for women to move forward in their careers, not because they are women but because they are good managers”. [Read More Now]


Buy different. Is @Apple changing the way we decide to make purchases? The tech giant’s Touch ID scanner, a new feature found in the latest iteration of the MacBook Pro, eschews the difficulty of protecting and managing unsecured credit cards, as well as the antiquated experience of handing over legal tender (I’m being glib here). The psychology can’t be ignored, says consumer scientist Sachin Banker (@sachinbank): “You might assume from a rational point of view, there should be no difference in spending behaviour based on how you’re paying for the item, using Touch ID versus a credit card”, but the data is beginning to suggest otherwise. Although consumers link Apple Pay to a credit or debit card, the physical act of touching the scanner to make a purchase is more intimate and requires no tangible representation of payment. Not only does that make the psychological decision to buy easier, but fingerprint scanners like the Touch ID tend to place more emphasis on identity and personal choice. Many thanks to @WIRED’s Andrew P. Han (@ahanGW) for this insightful article. [Read More Now]


A stellar honour. Departing United States President Barack Obama recently honoured 21 remarkable individuals — athletes, entertainers, philanthropists — with the prestigious Medal of Freedom Award. Among those recipients was Margaret Hamilton, a singularly accomplished tech pioneer who “invented the term ‘software engineer'”, writes Anisa Purbasari (@a_purbasari) for @verge. The @MIT-educated Hamilton designed critical guidance and navigation systems for @NASA spacecraft during the historic Apollo missions in the 1960s, including the famed 1963 Apollo 11 moon landing. Congrats to Margaret Hamilton for her much-deserved recognition. [Read More Now]


Top lessons, today’s leaders. Recently, @FortuneMagazine reached out to its “Fortune 40 under 40” and asked: “What’s the best leadership advice you have ever received?” Some answers are fresh and fun; others, time-honoured and reliable. But every leader interviewed brought a wealth of energy and seasoned perspective to the table. Mike Cannon-Brookes (@mcannonbrookes) of software developer @Atlassian says: “Listen to all the advice that you’re given, and be very discerning about which to follow. Just blindly following all the advice you get… is probably a path to failure”. My favourite comes from film studio @STXEnt CEO Sophie Watts: “Just be kind to people. Be kind, and know that people are your power”. [Read More Now]


Confidence is key. According to @businessinsider, a new study at @unimelb has identified a tangible link between confidence and success. But how is confidence achieved? What methods can be employed to stay ahead of tentativeness and self-doubt? Dr. Travis Bradberry (@talensmarteq) shares 10 helpful strategies that confident people are already using to stay on their game. #1 (speaking with certainty) and #8 (taking risks) are no-brainers, but I like his #4: don’t seek attention. “Confident people know that being yourself is much more effective than trying to prove that you’re important”. [Read More Now]


Liberal arts winners? Listen up, fellow British degree holders. This recent article from @qz is near-and-dear to my heart, as it proves that even a liberal arts education can lead to a lucrative career. How, you ask? Freelance copywriter Catherine Baab-Muguira (@Greedzilla1) expounds on the world of direct-response advertising, wherein companies hire freelance copywriters to pen marketing letters to customers. “You probably know it as ‘junk mail’ or, on the Internet, as ‘click-bait,’ Baab-Muguira writes. So what are these young writers earning in exchange for their services? She continues: “I’ve met one-time British majors who… go free agent when their contract’s up because they’re making ‘only’ $250,000 a year”. [Read More Now]



Kyle ElzyKyle Thomas Elzy researches and writes our monthly feature of what’s hot in the nextsensing world. He is a storyteller by trade. His professional background lies in copywriting, editing, scriptwriting, graphic/web design, and audio/video editing. He has collaborated closely with numerous museum, academic, corporate, and nonprofit organisations.