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Insights & Trends 10 min read

Location Trends 2017

Location Trends 2017

The Design Forward team at HERE continually scans the world, looking for signs and portents of the future: indicators of change in the way we live, travel and work that are starting to appear now and which we think will become significant to our business in years to come.

Today we're excited to share our latest findings with HERE 360 readers.

So. What's next?

Through large sets of data, we are now, more than ever, able to simulate and predict situations and take decisions that lead to a favorable outcome autonomously.

Map creation becomes more automated and accurate, in real-time. Validation gets help from image recognition, spatial sensors, and big data to become more precise and fast.

Injected into smart platforms, different sets of data can be computed complementarily.

When we join this "reality index" together with other machines, then we can create automated, "aware" systems that can act independently of human input to make improvements.

The safety barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is a good example. Currently, a human-driven 'Zipper' truck moves the central barrier to open and close lanes, according to how much traffic is arriving from each side of the bridge, to create additional road capacity in the direction that needs it most. That truck could soon become autonomous, directed by live traffic updates collated from the traveling speeds sent by cars approaching the bridge.



The Green Wave project in Reykjavik, developed by Siemens, sees traffic lights automatically turn green for emergency vehicles and public transport, drawing together location information with the city's traffic infrastructure.

In a development from a very different side of the industry, the Grundig Smart Kitchen concept knows who is coming to dinner, suggests a menu, and automatically orders the missing ingredients from local vendors.

Such Artificial (and Location-Aware) Intelligence will not only be asked to enable an efficient autonomous world but also to enhance human lives.

We are entering an era where artificial intelligence is humanized and humans are digitalized. The path towards a balance may be long and difficult although the tech is proceeding quickly.

Robots have entered the workplace in the domains of health, enterprise, construction and as domestic appliances. They're now talking to people in the form of public transport concierges, such as the SNCF partnership with IBM to create the Pepper robot to answer passenger inquiries at train stations.

Alongside robots mimicking humans, we're also beginning to see devices, surfaces and environments gaining life and bringing intelligence to the world around us.

New capabilities in natural voice understanding, machine learning and AI enable conversational interfaces, leading to the disappearance of buttons and displays.

In the Lexus UX Concept car, for example, an interactive holographic sphere assumes many of the functions previously reserved for the dashboard.

At the same time, people are becoming more digitized. Our actual fingerprint is required to make the best-selling smartphones do anything. Going deeper, some biometrics companies like Dangerous Things are experimenting with embedding electronics such as NFC payment chips under the skin.

And deeper still, the field of machine-powered mind-reading is becoming a reality. The BBC reported on February 1 that doctors in Switzerland and Germany have used Field MRI scanners to successfully communicate with the minds of patients who have lost all physical control over their bodies, allowing them to make decisions that had previously been impossible for them. Meanwhile, Opel presented the concept of a brain wave detector that can be used to start a car engine.

The most advanced manifestations of technology will not try to copy humankind, but rather to complement human capabilities.

The definition of consumerism and ownership has been challenged by the arrival of service design. The CEO of Zip Car recently noted: "People don’t buy a car anymore; they buy a trip."

Increasingly, people are choosing to buy experiences or services, rather than the physical goods required to fulfill their needs. Products themselves are evolving to become platforms that can serve a variety of needs across industries.

Our vehicles are increasingly becoming connected devices that can pay a road toll, share moments on social networks or call the emergency services if there’s an accident. It's not difficult to imagine autonomous cars that can become an office on the move or a mobile home.

Drones started out as leisure devices in the consumer market, but they can be also used to map agricultural fields, or to reforest highly spoiled lands, or to transport goods to otherwise unreachable areas.

Collaboration and integration are key to success. Players that can design assets (including products, data, and software solutions) to be flexible and adaptable to different systems will achieve this success. Through these flexible assets, they will be able to assess opportunities cross-service, cross-industry, across private and public.

Being mobile increasingly applies to moving humans conveniently, regardless of age or physical conditions, and also to moving immaterial things instantly, for example, your digital self. In the hyper-mobile society, location is either irrelevant or it becomes the trigger of many services.

Education and work can exist wherever we want them to, through flexible arrangements. Even citizenship can be virtual. The E-Estonia project offers a government-issued digital identity, "And the opportunity to run a trusted company online, unleashing the world's entrepreneurial potential."

Contact with friends, relatives and colleagues has become similarly location-agnostic, made possible by instant sharing and telepresence devices, services and solutions.

By the same token, hyperlocal jobs are appearing, available to anyone in the right place, with the correct equipment and access to digital platforms for location-based work. Coming from the opposite quarter, the idea of 'moving where the work is' approaches new extremes with the emergence of inflatable mobile homes.

The idea of a requirement for continual mobility is affecting product design across the spectrum. The Solgaard Design Lifepack features electricity generation plus USB recharging for your gadgets, alongside advanced security features to operate as a wearable mobile companion for your increasingly nomadic life. Personal needs are answered with new tailored vehicles. The next generation of wheelchairs for example is smart and can follow a route, or a user.

With the location of work and people shifting continuously, the old, static models of supplying resources such as energy and water are becoming unfit. We're moving towards a hyper-local demand network rather than a centralized one.

With the growing number of electric cars on the roads, for example, we need new models for supplying and storing power, since it may be needed anywhere the cars themselves can go.

In one potential development, a possibility opens for a new interplay between electric car owners and the rising number of people installing solar panels – such as those soon to be offered by Tesla – onto the roofs of their homes. Homes thus have the potential to turn into small-scale power plants and to sell stored excess energy to cars in the area that need it.

Amsterdam’s Vehicle 2 Grid project allows privately generated power from residential solar panels to be used within the household, stored for later, to recharge electric cars and fed back into the grid system.

Similar models might come to be applied to other resources – such as water, and even food – creating new, ever-shifting resource networks responding to the ebb and flow of the city. Of particular interest to HERE is that these new 'SmartGrids' will rely upon the 'Location Intelligence' prediction capabilities and accurate assessment of real-time demand cited at the beginning of this article.

The personalization of services and solutions is increasingly based on the digitalization of personal needs, behaviors and preferences.

While in some areas, like healthcare, algorithms aim to create highly personalized diagnoses and treatments, in some other sectors, like social media, algorithms might restrain the discovery of new things and prevent serendipitous experiences.

When data is used to evaluate behaviors, new business models arise. Automotive insurers can use data tracking and analysis to move beyond deciding premiums on the basis of the driver's age and the car they drive, for example, and instead look at their driving behavior to reward careful drivers and only penalize those who take unnecessary risks.

On a larger scale, Sweden has implemented a policy that pools the fines from speeding drivers and gives the money away in a lottery that safer drivers can win. Motorists are entered into the draw automatically by speed cameras that also record drivers traveling under the limit.



In society, however, algorithms might create classification and discrimination impacting communities and cities. As an example, mobility applications providing safe routes to one user might on a bigger scale lead to the ghettoization of a city area, by directing people away from areas where the crime is higher. Solving these issues will require collaboration between city authorities, citizens and companies providing routes.

Amsterdam created a unit called "IOT Living Lab" with the aim to rethink public spaces and experiment with big data for new services. In Paris, the "Participative Budget" is calling citizens to propose and vote for new urban concepts.

Ethics and social responsibility in an increasingly automated world call for solutions that go beyond efficiency and understand human aspirations.

These are the topics we feel will have the most impact on the location and mobility arena. What factors do you think will have the most impact on your life in the coming years?

Karoline Cerny

Karoline Cerny

Elena Rovati and Karen Janssen

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