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Megatrends in Quality of Life

In: Business and Management

Submitted By urminskym
Words 3245
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(Seminar work)

2013 Bc. Peter Moravčík

Identifying and defining a Mega trend is one of the most controversial parts of the entire process, but also one of the most important. Without an accurate definition, but run the risk of over or under defining our starting point, which automatically puts us in the wrong position to launch. We would like to try in first chapter of this seminar work.

In second chapter of this seminar work we describe one of new Mega trend – smart product. Smart products by industry advocates assumes that new product features such as anticipating and optimizing for future events after the product measures and scans the relevant conditions will be welcomed and valued by consumers. Further, many companies have built business and service plans that assume smart products will command premium prices and build recurring revenue streams, creating competitive advantage.

However, the smart product value proposition for consumers is complex. In some cases industry for embedded intelligence is no grounded in an understanding of the many challenges presented by smart products and their evolving ecosystems. There are numerous examples of smart products that never captured the consumer market or that fell out of favour when lower-cost, more generic offerings came along. Consumers also have concerns about the potential negative impact of bringing more connected, intelligent products into their lives. We presented smart products, which are and will be successful on the consumer market – smart home and smart car.

1 New Mega trend – the definition

Frost & Sullivan defined Mega Trends as “global, sustained and macroeconomic forces of development that impact business, economy, society, cultures and personal lives, thereby defining our future world and its increasing pace of change”[1]. Let us break this definition down a little so that you understand why we define Mega Trends in this manner.

• Mega Trends are global

The trends that I will cover in this seminar work are global. The point, however, to note is that, although these trends are global, they hold different meanings for different markets, industries and geographical regions, and, yes, even for different communities and individuals. Example: Smart products are a global phenomenon. However, smart products have a real business case, can typical provide energy and efficiency saving of up to 30% and boast a typical two to four years return on investment.

• Mega Trends are sustained macroeconomic forces of development

Not every fad is a trend and not every trend is Mega. For a trend to be classified as a Mega Trend, it needs to have a major impact on global economies and needs to be sustained. This begs the question “is it certain?” because we cannot measure sustainability without understanding if this trend will even occur. The answer is yes, a Mega Trend is a certainty – it will happen. The issue then becomes to what degree and on which timeline this will impact us. For a trend to be considered sustainable, it must have staying power and viability for a broader market.

• Mega Trends are transformational

Mega Trends define the very labyrinth of our business, markets, industries and even our personal lives. It will alter the way we view certain aspects of our personal and professional lives, and therefore will transform the way we go about our daily activities and even connect with our peers in the future. Why are the new mega trends important? Let us review some of the trends of the last decade:

• China as an emerging super power, • Internet retail and e-commerce, • Social networking, • Green and sustainability.

In hindsight, it would seem obvious that most of these identified trends were quite certain to come to fruition. If we look at the pace of change taking place today, even over the last five years, it is remarkable to think how we, in our personal and professional lives, have changed so dramatically from ten years ago. Organizations are still reacting to China´s growth, companies are still trying to enact successful e-commerce strategies and the publishing world is frantically attempting to morph itself into a new business model to survive digital pressures. Look at companies that have created leadership positions by being early adopters of trends. Siemens´ infrastructure and city business model is one of the strongest we have seen. Facebook´s emergence to take advantage of social trends, IBM´s business transformation into a solution provider and Amazon´s powerful e-commerce and now hardware strategy have all led to positions of dominance, based on early identification and adoption.

The important questions to ask include: are you reactive or proactive? Do you lead or follow? How will you define your future so that you do not become the negative statistic, but lead the charge? In the next chapter we will focus on Mega trend - smart products.

2 Smart products

There are several definitions of “Smart” floating around, and the definition has evolved over time from a device connected to the Internet to a product which has an embedded intelligence in the form of a microprocessor. Most current definitions relate Smart products to a Smartphone (like the iPhone) which is based on the premise that these products have information and communication technology embedded in them. This is true in most cases and is the direction where most Smart products are heading. But it is no entirely true.

In general terms, one can say that there are three levels of Smart products:[2]

• Level 1

Products which have a basic sensing mechanism and a simple means of communicating changes in its environment. For example, Smart bandages feature sensors embedded in the mesh of standard dressings that can warn patients and doctors if the wound develops an infection (and possibly in the future also specify which bacteria is causing it).

• Level 2

Products which have sensing ability and a means of data communication as well as the ability to take corrective actions through embedded software. A simple example of a Level 2 product is the Smart lighting controller which, when it senses that there are no occupants in the room, can turn off the lights and, similarly, when one walks into the room, can automatically switch them on. It can also be configured to a preset dim rate, which can save electricity.

• Level 3

Products which build upon the Level 2 definition by having increased intelligence, a two-way flow of communication, being part of a connected Internet-bases network and having advanced capabilities of data collection, processing, reporting and intelligence built into them to sense and take corrective action. For example, a Level 3 Smart lighting control can do all the functionalities mentioned previously but also regulate the intensity of the light in the room based on the natural light levels and keep it constant throughout the day and night. It can also be remotely regulated through the use of a Smartphone, a function which can be useful should you have by any chance forgotten to switch on the security lights at home while on a holiday.

For the purposes of this seminar work, we can agree with the definition that a Smart product is characterized by an intelligent sensing technology that is increasingly being integrated with Internet technologies, thereby allowing the product to react and communicate to the changing environment around it, thereby optimizing operations and improving efficiency.

Being “Smart” in future will mean moving away from closed island solutions and solo Smart products toward cross-linked intelligent solutions. This would mean not just a Smart device but a Smart home, Smart building and also Smart cities. The vision of companies like Siemens and IBM is to use this concept to connect disparate sources to tell you, for example, when and where the next traffic jam will be before you get to it. It makes sense, as it is too late if you are already in one.

2.1 Smart connected home

Today´s concept of a “Smart home” or a “connected home” is a progression from what was defined over the last decade as an “automated home”.

In 2000, Frost & Sullivan did a report on Home Automation. It was a very popular report with significant interest from companies, and had predicted considerable growth in that market. Unfortunately, ten years later, that market has not lived up to its potential. The main reasons for failure were that the technology of the past was not actually smart and hence the automated home was in reality just a load of remote-controlled functions like TV, stereo, blinds/shutters, lights, etc. It turned out that people were not really impressed enough to pay lots of money for what was nothing more than “cool gadgets” in the house. Homer automation therefore stayed as purely a luxury market.

More recently three things have happened which will ensure a repeat failure does not happen: Smart technology means that the home can actually be “managed” by technology (rather than just controlled), secondly, the issue of energy efficiency has become really important, so there is an additional reason to automate the home, and thirdly, Smartphones and tablet computers provide a perfect platform for consumers to manage their homes through a single source.

The Smart home of the future that has so often been featured in movies and TV serials is almost upon us. It can provide the following services which can be broadly categorized under home concierge, home energy a waste management:[3]

• Virtual butler: Controls the ambiance in the house like mood lighting and scene setting for a hot date, and also scent, air purification, etc.

• Virtual caretaker: Can take care of the elderly in the house and also monitor children or dogs remotely.

• Personalised living: Provides and unprecedented level of personalization tailored to unique habits – for example, providing climate control in each room of the house to suit personal tastes. No more teenagers complaining their room is too cold or too hot.

• Effortless replenishment: For example, in a Smart bathroom and kitchen, the fridge can make its own shopping list.

• Integrated media and entertainment solutions.

• Home energy management – wireless connected home, power generation management and possibly returning surplus power generated into the grid, electric car charging and power management for peak and off-peak hours through Smart meters.

• Virtual waste and energy management: For example, water and energy conservation.

• Remote management through Smart devices like Smartphones.

• Information and education through feedback such as your energy consumption patterns and energy audits using clever software and reporting.

All the aforesaid functions will be made possible through a black box called the Smart home hub, similar to your current digital TV set-top box, also called the Home Area Network (HAN). A HAN is essentially where all the devices and appliances in a home can communicate with each other and can be controlled centrally.

Future Smart homes will also have Smart windows which will go beyond a simple framed structure of glass and will have advanced functionality that will allow smart management of light, heat and air. These Smart windows will affect several industries, including the window treatment industry, where it could replace the use of conventional shades, blinds, curtains and awning systems. It will also have an impact on HVAC players, with Smart windows becoming an integral part of climate control system.

2.2 Smart cars

Cars are no exception to the Smart phenomenon. If five years ago the focus in the global automotive market was on being green and fuel efficient, now it has become entwined with a vision of being smart. The future of driving will be less of shifting from a gas guzzler to driving hybrid or smaller cars, but more about driving astutely and using functionalities like gear shift indicators, the ability to switch the vehicle into economic driving mode and the ability to recognize driving conditions to alter driving behavior like intelligent speed adaption systems. The premise behind this is that drivers who do not engage in aggressive acceleration/deceleration and drive around the bend four times to find a parking space can save up to 25% off their fuel bill.

Typically a Smart car has three core areas of focus – safety, dynamic information and innovative user interfaces. A Smart car is a vehicle that can interact with the outside environment (road and traffic infrastructure and sense conditions), process it with a brain of its own and sound alerts, warnings in real-time information to the user in a distraction-free user interface to enhance and enrich the driving experience.[4]

Research suggests and vehicle assistance systems, which are typically called advanced driver assistance systems in the automotive world, have a typical reaction time of about 600 millisecond from the time an object or obstacle is detected and the corresponding function of the safety system kicking in: for example, automatic braking. This is one aspect of the Smart car vision in which automakers want to reduce the reaction time of vehicle safety systems, and for that they are resorting to various measures. Some of these measures include installing stereoscopic cameras around the vehicle in addition to the existing sensors, which can dramatically increase the reaction time. An example of this is what is called 6D-Vision in a Mercedes Benz, where the automaker plans in the future to introduce several stereoscopic cameras that can reduce the reaction time to less than 200 milliseconds, thereby aiding in high-efficiency accident prevention

Another area of research for Smart cars is the ability for cars to speak to roadside infrastructure and each other to communicate roadside traffic and incident information to prevent accidents and ease traffic congestion. In the industry this is referred to as vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) communication, which uses a particular wireless technology called DSRC 5.8 GHz (dedicated short-range communications). BMW already claims that its brand of cars can talk to each other and pass vital information – such as to slow down if there is an accident ahead – using a concept called floating car data (FCD). In the future, legislation could even enforce the use of FCD to share vital data between a Mercedes, a BMW and o Ford. Future will also see vehicle to home (V2H) communication systems linking cars to home area networks.

An interesting function of a Smart car is to provide dynamic information to the user by utilizing a connection to the Internet from the car through a super-fast computer to process this information. Car manufacturers are resorting to either using the driver´s mobile plan or embedding a dedicated data plan inside the car to achieve connection to the Internet which can provide the drivers with several useful information pieces such as real-time traffic, dynamic point-of-interest information like parking-space availability and booking. By end of this decade, most car manufacturers will take this concept to a cloud-based solution where information of any type can be retrieved at any time and processed accordingly. One example of this approach is Toyota who has partnered with Microsoft to use the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to create a new information platform which links Toyota to its customers and dealers in real time. Ford is also partnering with Google to use its prediction API cloud to do pattern analysis and aid drivers in taking best routes that are derived after careful historical analysis and future predictions. Clearly the car is turning into a dynamic information zone, but this information needs to be provided in a useful manner to drivers to avoid any backlash.

Your car´s display in the future will also be the size of an iPod, about 8 inches long, which will be aided by several technologies such as touch screens and voice interfaces that further enhance the experience and avoid any distractive situations. Technologies such as MirrorLink from Nokia, which acts as a remote terminal replicating the smartphone inside the car are also examples that are accelerating these developments.

Apple came up with a perfect innovation in the iPhone 4S – SIRI – which supports natural voice recognition and analysis. Several carmakers, for instance Cadillac, will bring up a very similar technology in 2013 models on a system called Cadillac User Experience (CUE) which supports semantic natural voice recognition. This means consumers no longer have to speak commands but can speak natural statements and phrases and complete their tasks and applications. This is one example of the futuristic vision car companies have to ensure the information is presented to the user in a very safe, smart manner.

But driving the car will be a whole new experience once we have augmented reality embedded into the vehicle, which will turn any visible environment into an interactive information and safety space examples of this today are demonstrated by BMW and Audi, which are using a particular technology called contact analogue displays to turn the windscreen into a safety zone showing vehicles ahead on the road and alerting drivers to possible collision and safe zones. The same technology can also be used to show points of interests and landmarks when the vehicle is not in motion on the windscreen itself, thereby converting it into a fun zone.


Identifying Mega trends is about identifying the development processes that will have a major impact of our quality of live. In a situation where the future cannot, in principle, be predicted it makes sense the to identify trends in terms of developments over the next five years and Mega trends attempting to characterize what is presumed to hold for the next 10 to 15 years. We think about smart product they are Mega trends.[5]

While there are so many innovative efforts by automakers to turn the car into a smart James Bond 007-type assistant, they are also fighting hard to find the right balance between what is ideal for driving conditions and what should be limited to idle mode. Also increasing the importance of this fight are issues relating to driver distraction, which further prompts them to invest in the right mix of smart technologies. Chances are that, in 2020, cars will be a hub of dynamic information and fun features.


• SINGH, S. 2012. New Mega Trends: Implications for our future lives. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 258 p. ISBN 978-1-137-00808-4. • MENON, M. 2011. Asia Pacific Market Insights. [online]. Frost & Sullivan, 2011. 44 s. [cit. 2013.03.03.] Dostupné na internete: <>. • CRONIN, J. M. 2010. Smart products, smarter services: strategies for embedded control. New York : Cambridge University Press, 2010. 328 p. ISBN 978-0-521-19519-5. • KARLSDÓTTIR, A. 2011. Megatrends. Copenhagen : Datagraf, 2011. 202 p. ISBN 978-92-893-2223-2.

[1] MENON, M. 2011. Asia Pacific Market Insights. [online]. Frost & Sullivan, 2011. 2 s. [cit. 2013.03.03.] Dostupné na internete: <>.

[2] SINGH, S. 2012. New Mega Trends: Implications for our future lives. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 7 p. ISBN 978-1-137-00808-4.

[3] SINGH, S. 2012. New Mega Trends: Implications for our future lives. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 10 p. ISBN 978-1-137-00808-4.

[4] CRONIN, J. M. 2010. Smart products, smarter services: strategies for embedded control. New York : Cambridge University Press, 2010. 103 p. ISBN 978-0-521-19519-5.

[5] KARLSDÓTTIR, A. 2011. Megatrends.. Copenhagen : Datagraf, 2011. 15 p. ISBN 978-92-893-2223-2.

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