IFTF + You
The Technology Horizons program combines a deep understanding of technology and societal forces to identify and evaluate discontinuities and innovations in the next three to ten years. We help organizations develop insights and strategic tools to better position themselves for the future. Our approach to technology forecasting is unique—we put people at the center of our forecasts. Understanding humans as consumers, workers, householders, and community members allows IFTF to help companies look beyond technical feasibility to identify the value in new technologies, forecast adoption and diffusion patterns, and discover new market opportunities and threats.
2014 Research Agenda
THE TECHNOLOGY HORIZON: Twenty Combinatorial Forecasts
In 2014, we continue the process of creating forecasts and maps that anticipate the technology horizon over the next decade—pointing out technological shifts and transformations of the human experience that might occur.
Today’s pace of change, dynamic social reconfigurations, and rapid organizational innovation demand we revisit the processes we use to build foresight. Linear extrapolation of technological trends is insufficient. We think technological change will be driven by the combination and recombination of foundational elements. Combinatorial forecasting, then, involves the systematic mixing and remixing of distinct technology trends with the goal of perceiving alternative outcomes.
This year’s Technology Horizon map presents twenty combinatorial forecasts you can use to navigate the future as it unfolds. Each combinatorial forecast is built on a range of enabling technologies and newly opening possibilities. Concrete examples from the world today—including new technologies, research, businesses, or other endeavors—demonstrate the direction of each forecast.
- Forecast Report: A set of combinatorial forecasts that explore amazing intersections of possibility for the next decade, built from IFTF’s ongoing research into foundational technologies.
- Interactive Digital Map: An interactive digital version of the forecast map with updated blog posts and new signals from the Technology Horizons team.
- Presentation Toolkit: A ready-to-use PowerPoint with annotations to support both your presentations and the strategic group processes your organization uses internally.
HUMANS AND THEIR MACHINES: New Interfaces, New Interactions
In 2014, IFTF’s Technology Horizons team will once again focus on the human story in our interactions with technology. We will look beyond handheld devices and wearable technology to map the new language of human-machine interaction, with a focus on cutting-edge sensory interfaces.
We are familiar with high-definition video and high-fidelity audio experiences. Over the next decade, human-machine interfaces will extend and amplify all of our human senses—not just sight and hearing but also taste, smell, and touch. These advanced interfaces will feel more intuitive and even become invisible to users. Our machines will be highly responsive, even anticipatory, as they predict our needs by learning our behavioral patterns and the subtle signals and cues we provide. Communicating with machines may become similar to the way humans communicate with each other, with highly attuned cultural and emotional choreographies.
But this story is not just about how we interact with our machines—it is also a story of human relationships and identity. As we hack and program our senses to enhance our abilities and amplify our reach, we will connect with others (and ourselves) in new and unexpected ways. Over the next decade, a networked sensorium of humans and their machines will redefine human capabilities; generate new ways of working, learning, playing, and sharing; and create opportunities for unprecedented experiences in almost every arena of daily life.
- Forecast Map: A foundational forecast, mapping technologies to our human senses within a framework of new capabilities, new practices, and new experiences.
- Video Scenarios: Four scenario videos of humans and their machines, with insights into new interactions and experiences in work and learning, and for health and entertainment.
- Presentation Toolkit: A ready-to-use PowerPoint with annotations to support both your presentations and and the strategic group processes your organization uses internally.
MAKER CITIES: From Making Stuff to Remaking Systems
In 2014, IFTF continues to explore maker cities. How are makers shaping the development of emerging technology? How are they reinventing critical systems, shared infrastructures, and ideas of participation? And what will the growth of maker cities mean for living, working, and doing business ten years from now?
Cities have always captured our imaginations; they are the nexus where people, ideas, and future possibilities come together. Whether they are imagined as high-tech metropolises, models of ecological sustainability, or platforms for the sharing economy, cities are where the future happens. We see a maker movement rising in cities across the planet, whether these makers are tinkering at the fringes of society or are embraced as part of an economic strategy.
Every city has makers. They’re putting in extra time and effort to create or design something personally meaningful online. They’re sharing or borrowing cars, spare rooms, tools, skills, and time to save money and make stronger communities. They’re participating in social media around a favorite show or carefully editing a video before posting for feedback. Today’s maker cities—from San Francisco to Shenzhen, Detroit to Sao Paolo—are defining new forms of collaboration and knowledge creation, providing new platforms to mix and remix the tools of biology and life sciences, or pioneering new ways to live in the age of networked matter.
But what will happen when makers spill out of makerspaces and onto the streets of cities? Makers inscribe the stuff they make with important values (such as openness, sharing, participation, and collaboration). In the same way, they will turn their maker mindsets to other arenas of their lives and remake the systems around them, whether it’s work, learning, transportation, energy, food, health, or governance. Over the next decade, project by project, makers will create vibrant new communities as they reinvent the urban experience.
- Maker Cities Game: Players on Makercities.net—a collaborative, ongoing forecasting game for makers in cities across the world, designed as both a research platform and a forum for public imagination—will respond to a range of sponsored challenges and generate scenarios of future possibilities as the maker movement spreads from city to city.
- Maker City Immersions: In spring 2014 we will make immersive learning journeys to places such as Shenzhen (China), Mexico City (Mexico) and New York City (U.S.A.), where field excursions led by notable makers in the community will help us understand the present and future of the region’s capacity for making and innovation.
- Maker City Atlas: The atlas will include a series of reports mapping the new geography of science and technology innovation emerging from maker cities around the world, as well as a set of forecasts and tools for deeper immersion and strategic action.
- Conference: An open and collaborative two-day gathering in the San Francisco Bay Area in October 2014 will give attendees a chance to immerse themselves in the future, identify strategic insights, and get hands-on experience with innovation processes and tools with a network of technology innovators, makers, and disruptive thinkers.
[+TECH] EVENT SERIES: Building a Community of Futures
Technology is all around us. Rarely, though, do we get a chance to talk to the people who create it—those who shape tomorrow’s technology and the way we interact with it. Our new community event series [+Tech] changes all that. At these evening events, expert speakers give short “ignite” talks sharing their visions of how technology will shape industry in the coming decade.
These [+Tech] speakers sit at the edge of technical reality and world-changing possibilities. They are leaders and game changers from the areas of design, robotics, medicine, human-computer interaction, hardware design, materials science, and more. Guests are also technology makers and aficionados, which results in high-level, fascinating Q&A sessions and conversations throughout.
Each event in the series makes a deep dive into the technology of a specific area or industry, and the series as a whole gives a broad view of the technological landscape.