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category - design
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sector - health & wellness
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This week: Volkswagen use deepfake technology, the ECA are developing football boots for women, Fiat declares end to grey cars, Sony’s new speakers bring cinematic sound home, and soybeans could be the future of alternative bacon. 

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14 July 2023

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: Global Fashion Summit, Denmark


Volkswagen, Brazil

1. Volkswagen ad brings dead singer to life via deepfake technology

Brazil – Volkswagen’s short film celebrating its 70th anniversary in Brazil went viral overnight in July 2023 for featuring singers Maria Rita and her late mother, Elis Regina, singing together while driving.

Creative agency AlmapBBDO and production company Boiler Filmes brought Regina’s face and voice to life using deepfake and AI technology. The pop singer died in 1981 when her daughter Maria Rita was only three years old. Both are re-united thanks to technology in the promotional film showing Rita driving the ID Buzz – the 100% electric version of the firm’s signature Kombi – and her mother Elis driving a classic Volkswagen model.

‘The campaign uses sophisticated technology for a very human purpose: emotion,’ says Marco Giannelli, also known as Pernill, the chief creative officer of AlmapBBDO. ‘We are promoting an unprecedented duet that was only possible in the imagination and that now becomes absolutely real during the two-minute film.’

The campaign hints at new opportunities for a tech-powered funeral industry that we previously analysed in our Digital Afterlife Market report. AlmapBBDO also perfectly embraced the elasticity required from creative agencies to use AI as a way to create even more meaningful connections and emotions between brands and consumers.

2. Study reveals football boots are not designed for women

Europe – The European Club Association (ECA) unveiled a pioneering research project in June 2023 to develop football boots specifically designed for women.

Working in collaboration with Aspetar and St Mary’s University, the ECA’s High-Performance Advisory Group, composed of club doctors, physiotherapists and sports scientists, has significantly invested in analysing the anatomical differences between women’s and men’s feet. Over 18 months, some 350 players from top European clubs participated in an anonymous survey, providing feedback on their current boots and any associated pain or discomfort. 3D scans of the players’ feet were also taken to analyse their shape and movement.

The study found that current football boots are primarily designed for white males, leading to discomfort and performance issues for non-white and women players. Some 82% of the women footballers surveyed said they experience discomfort wearing football boots. To be more inclusive, the latter should be designed specifically for women and address factors such as foot shape, bending points and stud placement to prevent injury and discomfort, according to the study.

‘It is clear that a one-size-fits-all approach is inadequate,’ says Dr Katrine Kryger of St Mary’s University. ‘The data and knowledge gained through this research will undoubtedly support the ongoing improvement and development of women’s football footwear.’

By investing in this ground-breaking research, the ECA aims to ensure that every woman and girl in football can play with boots that are engineered to fit their specific needs. As explored in our Inclusive Fashion Market report, swathes of the fashion industry remain inaccessible to, or uncomfortable for, many consumers in 2023.

Operation No Grey by Fiat, Italy

3. Fiat’s commitment to colour celebrates the essence of Italy

Italy – Italian car brand Fiat has made a bold statement by declaring an end to boring grey cars and launching a vibrant ad campaign that showcases the brand’s commitment to colour and celebrates Italy’s essence. The short film accompanying the announcement features Fiat CEO Olivier Francois being lowered into a vat of orange paint while sitting in one of the brand’s new 600e cars.

The creative process behind the ad took a year, with the aim to create a campaign that went beyond a traditional car commercial. The team at Fiat agency Leo Burnett Italia focused on conveying Italy’s colourful reputation and the joy associated with the ‘dolce vita’ lifestyle. Despite the potential challenges and costs associated with such a daring campaign, Fiat’s leap of faith has won praise from the advertising and marketing industry, not only for disrupting the automotive category but for acting as a commercial for Italy itself.

The campaign has resonated with viewers, with high recall rates for both the brand and the associations with colour and Italy, according to System1 research. It has accumulated over 4m views on YouTube alone, showing how the automotive sector can use innovative strategies to connect with its audiences, a trend we analysed in Not Your Parents’ Car.


4. Sony’s portable theatre system brings cinematic sound home

Global – In July 2023, Japanese tech behemoth Sony introduced the HT-AX7, a new portable speaker system that can surround users with an immersive cinema-like sound experience. The three-part item includes a speaker and two smaller circular speakers designed to be placed in other corners of your room to create a dome of sound powered by the company’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology already used in Sony’s regular soundbars and headphones.

Connected through wireless Bluetooth and monitored through a smartphone app, the three speakers have a battery life of 30 hours and can be used to listen to music, podcasts and more. Sony has also equipped the system with a handy quick-charge mode that can give users 150 minutes of playback on a 10-minute charge. The HT-AX7 features Sony’s upmixer algorithm, which can transform stereo into three-dimensional surround sound. The speaker body uses a fabric made from 100% recycled PET bottles and incorporates recycled plastics. Available from August 2023, the portable speaker system will retail in the US, the UK and Europe for £499 ($649, €585).

In Quiet Mode, we previously analysed how Sony competitors like Apple and Flare Audio are developing innovative features to help the increasing number of consumers who crave a new kind of quiet and immersive experience that can make them forget the outside world for a while.

Piggy Sooy by Moolec, Luxembourg

5. Are soybeans the future of bacon?

Luxembourg – Soybeans are known to be incredibly versatile. The humble bean yields countless products and by-products: tofu, plant milk, tempeh, bean curd, miso, soy sauce, and the latest addition – a pork-flavoured alternative meat. Toying with the genetic structure of the soybean, Luxembourg-based start-up Moolec has figured out a way to start a new type of agriculture – molecular farming. This process re-engineers the bean to integrate DNA from a pig. Enter pink, bacon-tasting soybeans.

The process is possible by isolating the DNA sequence of the animal protein responsible for texture, flavour and nutrition, and triggering soybean plant cells to produce the same proteins by tweaking their DNA. Because the molecular farming process happens inside the plant, the crop can be grown on farms like conventional soybeans, making it convenient and easily scalable.

The need for such food solutions, equally climate-resilient and foodie-ready, is highlighted in our Adaptive Appetites macrotrend.

To future-proof your world, visit The Future Laboratory's forecasting platform LS:N Global for daily news, opinions, trends, sector specific insights, and strategic toolkits.


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