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Merged realities and motion sickness in a post-Pokémon GO world

A year is a long time in tech. Twelve months from now you could be reading this article on your VR headset, whilst sitting in your connected, autonomous car on the way to meet your new AI employer. You might not, but it is no stretch of the imagination that VR, AR and AI technologies are evolving at breakneck speed. Here we look at some of the big trends predicted to change lives in 2017.

Taking a look into the future, Ericsson ConsumerLab presents the sixth edition of its annual trend report The 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2017 and beyond.

2016 saw AR and VR go global. Twelve months ago, few consumers knew what AR was and even fewer had tried it out. Over the course of a few months, AR became the talk of the whole world with millions hitting the streets to play Pokémon GO. VR got a boost from moves by Facebook, Google, Sony and Valve to start selling VR headsets while Microsoft announced VR integration for its HoloLens device.

These technologies may still be focused on gaming for the time being, but we predict that people are going to want to use them for a broader range of activities in 2017 and beyond. For this to happen, the industry will need to explore how to merge the physical, virtual, and augmented into one seamless reality. 

While the possibilities are near-enough endless for VR and AR applications, they can come with side effects. Reports of motion sickness are common, especially among early adopters of VR. Players have reportedly admitted to trying to find their “VR legs” just like sailors had to find their sea legs. Consequently, one in three survey respondents said they want VR/AR motion sickness pills. Some consumers believe car sickness will become even worse when autonomous cars are commonplace. When we all become passengers, we will want to read, watch movies, join in video conferences and more while on the road. 

We also see AI continuing to be an important theme in 2017 with consumers expecting it to play a much more prominent role than before, both in society and the workplace.

These are the Ericsson ConsumerLab 10 trends for 2017 and beyond:

  • AI Everywhere: 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.
  • Setting the Pace for Internet of Things: 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.
  • Pedestrians Drive Autonomous Cars: Car drivers may not exist in the future. 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.
  • Merged Reality: Almost four out of five virtual reality users believe VR will be indistinguishable from reality in only three years. Half of respondents are already interested in gloves or shoes that allow you to interact with virtual objects.
  • Bodies Out of Sync: 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.
  • The Smart Device Safety Paradox: 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.
  • Social Silos: Today, 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.
  • Augmented Personal Reality: Over half of people would like to use augmented reality glasses to illuminate dark surroundings and highlight dangers. More than one in three would also like to edit out disturbing elements around them.
  • The Privacy Divide: 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.
  • Big Tech for All: More than two out of five advanced internet users would like to get all their products from the biggest five IT companies. Of those, three in four believe this will happen only five years from now.

As the name suggests, Ericsson ConsumerLab is a global consumer research unit. These insights in the 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2017 report are based on research activities established over more than 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. 

As consumers increasingly rely on IoT devices, and begin moving within VR/AR – and in autonomous, AI-controlled cars – demand for battery-friendly, high speed, near-zero latency connectivity is set to grow rapidly. Consumers also indicate these technologies must be truly mobile to become popular. All of this points to rising needs for 5G networks. 

We see all of these trends continuing to develop during 2017. Some will make an impact on mass markets, while others will take longer to become everyday phenomena. Some things may even surprise us – just like Pokémon GO did in 2016 – in how quickly they become mainstream.

Michael Björn, Head of Research, ConsumerLab, Ericsson
Image Credit: Knight Center for Journalism / Flickr

Michael Björn is Head of Research, ConsumerLab, at Ericsson. Ericsson’s ConsumerLab is a knowledge-based organisation, our main offering is insight. We have 15+ years’ experience in consumer research in ICT.