Welcome to the Next-Generation – a series where we will bring you a handpicked selection of the most exciting, idea-provoking movements in the world of brands, design, web3, and our society in general.
Each month we will rewind to take a look at our favorite inspiring ideas that have made us sit that little bit closer to the edge of our seats and got our feet tapping to the rhythm. We believe they will be shaping the future, so we wanted to share them with you.
In this article you’ll find 12 next-generation ideas we’ve spotted in April that we’re wild about. We hope they will widen your horizons and ignite new ideas for your brand or next design project.
Stay on the beat with us. ✨
Drop your pens and lay down your hammers
The work will be done by other hands
Reach out your arms further and further
Floor to ceiling our bodies expand
On the shoulders of giants
New forces surge ahead
Speed up the pace, the heartbeat,
The race to lead, cheeks red
Arms outstretched, the heated balance
The scales are tilting one way
Our roundabout vision is urgent
But the road needs more than our minds at play
1. Creating jaw-dropping pictures with OpenAI’s DALL-E
Get this – not only can DALL-E from OpenAI program complete paragraph texts and create entire web pages based on a simple starting point, it can complete images! From still life to multi layered graphic design, it will predict how a hidden part of an image may look.
But even better, it can insert a specified object into an image in a perfectly contextual way. You put a picture of a painting in an art gallery in front of it and instruct it to insert a dog.
The AI Will do this, but also style the dog to either fit inside the painting or sitting on the art gallery bench. Head to their site to see some of the variations and test them out for yourself. Mind-blowing.
2. Out of plain sight – Invisibility Cloaks may be more than magic
Please take your boarding passes to Platform 9 ¾. That’s right, the magical world of Mr. Potter is coming closer to reality. New advancements in nanotechnology and metamaterials mean that the idea of an invisibility cloak isn’t so far away. By bending light around them, this spellbinding product design might allow you to go undercover and be unseen as you traverse the world.
Currently still in the research phase with no commercial ventures, this idea is just being born into the next-generation. Whether we wait several years or decades before you can wrap one around you is yet to be seen. Doesn’t that make you want to start practicing your Wingardium Leviosa spells again?
3. Letting original ideas shine in meetings using System 2 thinking
Whether or not you are still working remotely or are back in the office, meetings are a pretty important part of getting the job done. We loved this psychology-backed idea of making meetings work better for everyone involved.
Step 1, create psychological safety. Number 2, take short, silent brainstorming breaks to give team members time to tap into a deeper level of thought. Step 3, consider anonymizing answers to avoid power struggles.
Giving yourself and your colleagues the time to process information and participate from an equal starting point using Systems 2 thinking might be the way forward.
4. Becoming the sculptor of your life and finding happiness
More. Bigger. Faster; is the classic mid-life solution to happiness. Arthur Brooks’ minimalistic metaphor sees your happiness in a different way, proposing that the true, happy you lies within the material and emotional clutter that you’ve built up over the years.
See your journey to inner tranquility like carving away at a statue to focus on the lesser amount of things that matter more. Our minds and our world are already full of enough stuff, so by clearing out the dusty corners as we move into the next-generation of our lives, we can give the real us more space to breath.
5. An NFT passport to inspire Women around the World
Balancing gender disparities in Web3 while owning an elegant illustration-based, algorithmically generated skin, that’s the mission of Surge Women. Their next-generation NFT passports take a fresh spin on this trend in digital art, by offering an ‘ecosystem of perks’ to collectors.
Focusing on educational packages and discounts to encourage more participation from women and non-binary users, they’ve found a much-needed USP for their NFTs. The sale price is 0.075ETH ($250), which is far outweighed by the rewards that holders will receive. They say they’re pumped for the future and so are we.
6. Populus, the first carbon-positive hotel in the US
It’s simultaneously shocking and awesome to see the claimed first carbon-positive hotel in the US. We’ve been used to neoliberal design grabbing the eyes of the architecture world in recent years, and a host of small-scale sustainable and community building ideas.
But the threesome of environmentally conscious, visually striking and more than modest in size is refreshing for the forward-looking designers out there. Populus, by Studio Gang, in Denver, is a first-mover in this wave of next-generation hotels, we hope to see many more following suit.
7. A top button invention in headphones and music listening
Rarely do consumer headphones have innovations that truly change the game. Noise-cancelling technology created unseen immersion, while wireless versions offered us more freedom while listening to music. Neckphone TRi by Circulr Sound is taking us to the next level. Their headphones give listeners the opportunity to have multiple products in one.
On-ear, over-ear, on-neck, or speaker-style sound, all in one pair of sleek headphones. More safety and more versatility for users really sets this product apart. With a seriously experienced team and nearly double the needed backing on Kickstarter, we are excited to see these next-generation neck phones launch themselves into the world.
8. The infectious energy inside the best leaders
Harvard’s crack team of intellectuals have put forward an enigmatic discovery in leadership to turn current theories on their heads. Rather than characteristic attributes being the drivers of success for leaders, it’s their bonds with the people we work with.
Positive Relational Energy uplifts, excites, and renews those it comes into contact with. It creates a chain reaction of energy throughout the workplace. Rather than all about positivity, this hypothesis suggests traits like honesty, compassion, and trust make a leader truly relatable. It’s all about connecting the circuit and letting humility and integrity energy flow.
9. Turning carbon waste into jet fuel
Whether aviation can survive the transition to a circular, carbon-positive economy is still unknown. But ideas such as that pioneered by Jennifer Holmgren at LanzaTech give us hope. During this Ted discussion, the inspirational Latina scientist explains the next-generation biotechnology that uses a microbe that ingests greenhouse gases and churns out ethanol.
In turn, this ethanol can be, and is, used as jet fuel. The company uses carbon recycling to produce dishwasher liquid, dresses, and more, but their spearhead project at LanzaJet is what we are buzzing about.
10. A continuous sermon from an unsettling AI mouth
Using a deep neural language model, Diemut Strebe along with scientists at MIT have created an AI-powered prayer machine. This slightly disturbing, picasso-esque face has analyzed more than 11 classic religious collections in full. It now uses this information to generate continuous sermons and prayer, connecting with the heavens in a futuristic way.
Will human rabbis, priests or imams be needed 20 years from now? Probably, but we love to see quirky new technology like this play with religion and the divine.
11. Mobile health and diagnosis in your hands
HealthAI at Google are at the forefront of developing smartphones into mobile doctors. Using technology that takes advantage of on-board cameras and microphones, they are creating new ways to discover health problems such as optical and respiratory issues.
Imagine not having to call, book and wait in line in those sickness-ridden waiting rooms just to have your doctor check something for you! This idea could save everyone a whole lot of time and money and really put your health in your hands.
12. Extending human potential and entering the age of the exoskeleton
At Skeletonics, the Ironman dreams of Tony Stark are being realized. During this insane demonstration of a new exoskeleton, the research group shows the ability of their robotic child to grip, throw, walk around, enter martial arts positions and wield a weapon.
Extending your body by 3m, the suit has been developed for superhuman sports. But the articulation of limbs you see in this video shows the potential for a lot more. Our eyes are open to see one where you can jump, run and move rapidly, but seriously where’s the queue to try this suit on? It’s my turn next!
If you enjoyed this April Rewind, consider our 2022-2027 trend briefing – The Next Generation, Who Are You? We take a further step into the future by deep diving into 12 ideas that are shaping the world of tomorrow.
Next-Generation Brand, who are you?