Reports often suggest that technology has made us screen-addicted, lonely, and distracted. But a new study into virtual reality, artificial intelligence and wearables reveals the public’s belief that emerging tech could actually enable deeper connections with others and ourselves, and make us more creative.
‘The Future of Experience’ - a report from Adobe and Goldsmiths, University of London - explores how technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, wearables and the Internet of Things affect both the offline and online consumer experience.
Immersive and personal technologies require brands to make new approaches to creating those experiences, the report concludes.
Through workshops with consumers, interviews with technology experts and quantitative research with over 2,000 UK adults, Goldsmiths’ Dr Chris Brauer (Institute of Management Studies) and his team identified five new areas for brands to consider when it comes to creating experiences with emerging technologies:
Privacy: technology can enable deeper connections with both others and with yourself
Over half (52%) of those surveyed agreed that a good digital experience empowers them to use technology to not only connect to the world, but disconnect from it.
While it facilitates deeper relationships with the external world, emerging technologies like VR and wearables are also empowering consumers to connect with themselves to experience private moments. This is exemplified by the wave of mindfulness and meditation apps and courses now available online.
In fact, 50% of survey respondents said using technology in this way had contributed to their personal wellbeing and happiness.
Serendipity: technology can aid discovery and surprise
The study found that emerging technologies should be used to create experiences that fuel imaginative thinking: all participants regardless of the technology reported their potential in making them more creative as well as allowing them to discover new things.
This is backed up by nearly two thirds (64%) of the adults surveyed who said that a good digital experience allows them to discover new and unexpected things that they like and love. The report suggests that elements of serendipity in an experience will build authenticity and, as a result, trust in brands.
Empathy: technology can create deep and meaningful relationships
The research found that these new technologies, especially VR, create more immersive and deeply private environments that impact on both physical and mental states, so brands will need to practice extreme empathy.
Participants also felt that these technologies have the unique ability to lend themselves to the development of meaningful experiences that have the potential to power social good. Some 32% of survey respondents said that the number one attribute of a great experience is one that is meaningful followed by personal (19%).
Adaptability: technology can enable seamless experiences
Participants testing IoT and AI technologies were excited about their potential in terms of making life easier, but frustrated that the experiences were not as straightforward and seamless as they wanted.
The Future of Experience researchers argue that brands must adapt to provide seamless, integrated experiences, not only across many different channels – both offline and online – but across products and services, and even entire markets.
This multichannel requirement is highlighted in the retail environment particularly, where 35% of adults said they preferred making transactions in person, 30% via a device and 32% stating no preference between the two.
Reciprocity: AI has the ability to radically change experience, but we need to teach it
The research also found participants were excited about the possibilities AI applications presented and recognised the reciprocal nature of the relationship.
Over half (52%) of the survey respondents said they would be happy to help ‘teach’ a machine if the feedback improved a number of elements in their lives like personal health, social services, everyday services and decision-making around purchases.
For now, the findings show that people will accept AI into their lives as long as the applications provide helpful, practical, personal and progressive experiences.
A great opportunity for brands to build deeper relationships
John Watton, EMEA Marketing Director, Adobe, says: “Digital transformation has presented enormous opportunities for businesses to reach customers in more meaningful and personal ways. What we wanted to understand through this research was the opportunity for brands to use new techniques and channels to build deeper relationships.
“It’s clear that the potential is enormously exciting but these new experiences must be built with great care. What hasn’t changed though is that we must stay absolutely laser-focused on the customer, show that you know, value and respect them and give them experiences that are consistent, personal and surprising.”
Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation and Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths adds: "The research shows people want experiences facilitated by technologies that enhance the flow and meaning in everyday life.
“The call-to-action is for experiences that are empathetic, learning, and adaptive. Emerging technologies are set to transform how we live, learn, and understand. Instead of dehumanising through technology, the future of experience is about technology supporting and amplifying the best qualities of our humanity."