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From performance to prevention — Illustration by TEAMS

From performance to prevention: A fundamental shift in Consumer Electronics

A.I. Will help to better understand symptoms and choose the best matching personal countermeasures or even doctors for treatment.

TEAMS Design Trend Story Electronic III

Read part I and part II

By Kai Gehrmann

After years of performance-related improvements in consumer electronics, focusing mostly on enhancing our sensual experience (better sound, better pictures, better…) and ease of use (smarter systems, better connectivity, better…), IFA 2018 showed clearly that for our beloved electronic devices new dawn is rising. A huge shift towards personal wellbeing, health monitoring, and even health prediction is gaining momentum and is taking up more and more speed.

Within recent years it has become quite painful to really make a profit with distinctive performance in consumer electronics. We are in a saturated era where most of our daily routines are perfectly covered by our electronic’s performance. It also explains why we start focusing stronger on other details such as customizability, ease of use, mindfulness and now: The recording and tracking of our personal wellbeing.

Funny enough, today’s interest in personal wellbeing was actually a performance-driven interest in the beginning. Fitness trackers were the first connected devices that put a high emphasis on our personal performance and gave feedback on how to constantly improve it. Their connectivity was focussing strongly on matching performance with others. But the developers — lucky for us — have mostly given up the impossible goal of trying to turn us all into super-shaped, super-healthy, super-strong pro-athletes. Nowadays, the majority of such systems rather focus on managing your personal wellbeing and encourages a health-conscious lifestyle on an average level.

What makes these systems so exciting is their potential to support us even more: With artificial intelligence, connectivity and cloud computing/big data collection/analysis, the foundation for a revolution is set, maybe even democratizing healthcare itself.

In the past, doctors where the only experts to assist you regarding your health. Besides the very individual and personal experience of each doctor, their level of education, experience, technical equipment and the general condition of a countries’ health care system made a big difference in the individual recovering process.

Today, the most asked „expert“ regarding health topics worldwide is searching the internet. Why are we doing this? The Internet for sure has no PhD whatsoever. Aware of the potential risks and half-truths of this way of self-analysis (and sometimes event treatment), still people constantly search the vast database with the idea of getting a truly independent second opinion from the patient’s view or experience. We want to be informed, we want to fully understand our illness the side effects of treatments or other details to be able to communicate on an even level with our doctors. We seek for guidance and try to use the extracted information for our decision-making process.

In the future, smart wearables, smart textiles, and electronic devices, connected as a personal network, will create your individual health protection. Their connectivity will enable them to compare trusted and verified data. Artificial intelligence will help to better understand symptoms and choose the best matching personal countermeasures or even doctors for treatment. For us, as designers, it will be of the highest importance that we address and understand the habits not only of digital natives but also the analogue elderly. They are the ones that could profit most from the individual freedom and possibilities these technologies inherit.

Consumer electronics of the future will provide us more and more with professional, accurate data on our personal health condition. They will change the way we live. Those devices won’t just be nice-to-have fitness gadgets — They will have the potential to greatly improve our health: Holistic, preventive and sustainable.

We’ve collected some recent examples to show you what is already possible today:

This is part of an ongoing series we at TEAMS Design are producing to discuss future trends we are researching in the electronics industry.

Originally published on on September 26, 2018.

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TEAMS is one of the world’s leading design agencies. TEAMS is not just a name — it’s our attitude!

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