19 : 04 : 19 : Weekly Debrief

need to know
category - dating
category - haircare
category - vr
category - sustainability
sector - health & wellness
sector - media & technology
type - opinion

This week: A VR playground, digitising funeral care, age-positive haircare, a dating app designed to be deleted and eco-luxury retreats in the desert.

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19 April 2019

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: Ceylon Skincare. Photography by Juan Veloz


Otherworld, London

1. Otherworld is a VR playground for the senses

London – This chromatic arcade and bar transforms virtual reality gaming into a social experience.

Opening this week, Otherworld brings fourteen VR pods to a disused railway arch in London's Haggerston. Visitors are invited to order drinks and Hawaiian poké street food before selecting a game to play, each categorised by the virtual world’s spring, summer, autumn or winter. The state-of-the-art VIVE headset experiences vary from climbing Mount Everest to undertaking tedious jobs, shooting zombies and living a day-in-the-life of a fisherman.

Created by secretive technology company The Dream Corporation, Otherworld uses heat, air, vibrations and scent effects to truly immerse visitors in its VR games. To make the destination a more social pursuit, those with friends can play against one another in different pods, while repeat customers can scan a QR code to return to their last point in the game.

As experience becomes a throwaway buzzword, consumers will seek out more challenging and immersive spaces that stimulate their senses. For more, read our report on Experience 2020.

Solace, Portland

2. Solace is digitising the funeral industry

Portland – The start-up is reinventing death care as a digital-only direct service that offers online cremation and funeral planning.

As a death care resource, Solace melds online convenience with concierge-style customer service, providing a simple and modern solution to consumers in Oregon and Washington. Customers pay a flat fee of £895 ($1,175, €1,040), which includes 24-hour access to Solace’s support team, assistance with paperwork, transportation of the deceased, cremation, return of remains and all necessary permits and fees.

With an increasing number of people choosing cremation services over funerals, Solace’s online-only offering aims to appeal to digital-first consumers. ‘Solace is born out of our own experience with the funeral industry, and the discovery that – unlike almost every other industry – it has not evolved to match market preferences for a modern, straightforward digital-based experience,’ says Keith Crawford, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

In The New Death Market, we explore how the death industry is changing. For more, keep an eye out for our updated death market, launching soon on LS:N.

Better Not Younger

3. Better Not Younger addresses the needs of mature hair

Miami – This new haircare brand targets both the signs and root causes of ageing hair.

Better Not Younger products are formulated to support scalp and hair health while addressing the changing physiology of the body. Incorporating shampoo, serums and supplements, the holistic range aims to counter the main factors that contribute to noticeable changes in maturing hair: scalp neglect, damaged structure and texture, and missing nutrients.

‘As we age the physiology of our hair evolves and its needs change, but it doesn’t mean we have to settle or compromise,’ says Sonsoles Gonzalez, the brand's founder. ‘It was when I started struggling to find products that could work with my own changing hair that the idea for Better Not Younger really came to fruition. I wanted a brand that addressed these changes but also spoke to me in a relatable, contemporary and non-apologetic package.’

As such, Better Not Younger takes a Life-stage Brands approach to Skintellectual Haircare.

4. Dating app Hinge wants to be less addictive

Global – Running with the tagline 'Designed to be deleted', the app has rebranded to make its interface less addictive.

Hinge, which launched in 2012 as a ‘relationship-focused app’, has unveiled a new look that will be rolled out worldwide. As well as employing more playful colours and illustrations, the redesign reverses the type of language and techniques used by dating apps, such as gamified swiping.

Instead, Hinge wants users to get off the app and into the real world of dating. It has consciously avoided several techniques used by developers to make interfaces more addictive. For example, users won’t come up against game-like animations that rival apps use to keep engagement high. In addition, Hinge’s notifications will appear subtly in-app before fading into the background.

By promoting its own deletion, Hinge is showing its commitment to meaningful relationships, while Tinder has taken a different, pro-single approach. To see why digital companies should encourage more moderate uses of their services, read our macrotrend The Focus Filter.

Hinge app
Al Faya Lodge, United Arab Emirates

5. This desert hotel is designed for extreme climates

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates – The Al Faya Lodge is a luxurious hotel and spa designed to be booked out in its entirety.

Designed by Anarchitect, the five-room hotel is a new addition to the Sharjah Collection, a group of eco-retreats located throughout the Sharjah Emirate. The Al Faya Lodge is comprised of stone buildings which, in the 1960s, housed a clinic and a grocery store.

To renovate the traditional buildings for the high-end market, lead architect Jonathan Ashmore used strong, locally-sourced stone materials, as well as creating terraced decks and over-sailing roofs to protect the hotel from harsh climates. ‘Desert conditions present extreme heat in summer with intense and prolonged sun exposure so it is important to consider these factors when first designing the form and mass of the building,’ he says.

Hoteliers are building high-end eco-resorts that are designed to withstand extreme environments. For more on the future opportunities for eco-hospitality, read our Q&A with Snøhetta.


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