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18 : 01 : 19 : Weekly Debrief

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18 January 2019

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: Microsoft rebranding by Microsoft and Tendril


This week: Gillette addresses toxic masculinity, Owlet offers peace of mind for pregnant women, The North Face’s game-changing fabric, Nike champions male yoga and a digital diary that tracks emotion.

We Believe: The Best Men Can Be, Gillette, Grey New York

1. Gillette confronts the #MeToo movement

US – The shaving brand tackles issues such as bullying and sexual harassment in its new advert, building on past efforts to redefine its long-standing tagline ‘The best a man can get’.

In 2018, Gillette launched a campaign showcasing the evolution of modern manhood but the most recent advert is the first to challenge viewers with topical issues such as the #MeToo movement. According to Gillette, the latest ad addresses the crossroads at which many men today find themselves, ‘caught between the past and a new era of masculinity’.

The company has also committed to donate £776,500 ($1m, €876,800) a year for the next three years to non-profit-making organisations with programmes designed to inspire, educate and promote positive change among men of all ages. Having previously been a brand that conformed to a very narrow view of masculinity, the initiative reflects a wider climate of Brand Redemption, with Gillette claiming it has ‘a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man’.

Owlet Baby Care band, US

2. Owlet alleviates worry for pregnant women

Utah – The tech company has launched the Owlet Band, a wearable that allows expectant mothers to track their baby’s health.

Made with ultra-thin fabric sensors, the band tracks the foetal heart rate and kick count of the baby using bioelectrical signals. The real-time data is then sent to a smartphone, allowing the mother to track the wellbeing of her baby and reduce potential anxieties.

‘Doctors have been wanting a technology to capture accurate readings at home in order to really find out what is happening inside the womb,’ says professor of obstetrics and gynecology Robert M Silver. The Owlet Band is currently being tested for accuracy validation with the Colombia University Irving Medical Center and is expected to be available to consumers later in 2019.

By tapping into the market for Pregnancy Wellbeing and offering at-home analysis for expectant mothers, Owlet has the potential to lessen the strain on healthcare providers.

Camper by The North Face and BMW Designworks

5. The North Face imagines the future of technical fabrics

Las Vegas – The outdoor product company has worked with BMW to show how its new breathable waterproof material could be used beyond apparel.

The North Face’s Futurelight material promises a new standard for both the sustainability and performance of technical fabrics. It is made with nanospinning technology – tightly packed nanofibres – to allow for unprecedented breathability while maintaining waterproofness. The innovative material also enables designers to adjust weight, stretch, breathability, durability and texture to meet the demands of different activities or environments.

Demonstrating potential applications for Futurelight, The North Face and BMW subsidiary Designworks presented a lightweight, element-proof camper concept at CES 2019, designed to protect users from extreme weather. ‘Thinking about extreme performance in new and unexpected ways from our experience of working across multiple industries helped us to provide consumers with a unique and never before seen insight into the very heart of the material and its key attributes,’ explains Laura Robin, studio director of Designworks.

For more on the innovative materials set to influence future product design, download our Material Far Futures report.


4. Nike is using pro athletes to champion yoga

Global – The sportswear brand has launched its first collection of unisex yoga apparel, likening the activity to a secret workout weapon for athletes.

While the retailer has offered yoga-related products in the past, this is Nike’s first yoga-tailored apparel line that includes products for men. Rather than focusing on the types of wellness and mindfulness tropes typically associated with yoga, the line focuses on strength, and is promoted by a range of professional athletes, including NBA players, footballers and skateboarders.

To show yoga’s potential as a secret workout weapon, Nike spoke to a range of competitive sports players and published their answers on its blog. ‘Yoga’s seated fold is very similar to the position you need to be in to land a long jump – legs straight, arms out fully, your chest almost meeting your quads,’ says Paralympian athlete Scout Bassett. ‘To have that kind of flexibility is tremendous.’

By repositioning yoga as a strength-building sport for men, Nike is tapping into the new generation of men who want to become physically strong without adopting a #ripped macho mindset.

Nike Yoga
Notte, Tokyo

3. Notte is a bedside companion that tracks your emotions

Tokyo – Consumers are encouraged to share their day with this digital diary, which takes the form of a softly glowing lamp.

Launched by Japanese technology start-up Neuroware, Notte re-imagines the personal diary for the modern age. Users are encouraged to speak out loud to the lamp, reflecting on their day and sharing their emotional state before going to sleep. By integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and voice tone recognition, Notte recognises how the user is feeling, changing colour in response. It also offers restless sleepers a breathing routine to help them relax.

Helping users to self-analyse their moods, Notte amalgamates this daily data via a supporting app. According to Neuroware, the emotional technology was borne out of the question: ‘How can we help evolve the paper diary to fit the needs of modern people?’

The E-motional Economy has created a thriving market for robot confidantes. This shift is especially prominent in Japan, where products like Fribo aim to tackle high rates of social isolation.


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