This month’s IFA Berlin trade show is sure to host a wealth of stand-out products. But the most promising new innovations will be those that can blend in.
Technology, like fashion, often seems to jump from trend to trend faster than the average consumer can keep up. Every few months or so, the newest must-have product hits the market, whether it’s a new mobile, a trendy wearable fitness tracker, or a home appliance with all the latest bells and whistles. It can often feel, though, like we’re being compelled to invest in new devices all the time. Much like ‘fast fashion,’ fast technology might be on-trend, but it never seems to have a very long shelf life.
But the tides are starting to turn in the world of consumer electronics, with short-term trends and fads giving way to long-term considerations—and not just in terms of image and style. Companies are now focusing on ways to make technology a greater reflection of an individual’s ideal lifestyle; rather than standing out, today’s consumer technology is trying to blend in and integrate into the daily lives of consumers.
Today’s consumer technology is no longer about flashy, stand-out products. More and more, technology innovators are creating devices and appliances intended to harmonize with the user’s lifestyle and surroundings. Clean lines, sleek profiles, and aesthetic simplicity are the ways of the future for everything from household appliances to mobile phones. In other words, it’s not just about what these products can do, but about how their image reflects upon their owner. Form no longer follows function –it stands beside it, with equal, if not greater, importance. Look at a line of products like the LG Signature collection, for example, which puts just as much focus on style as it does on functionality, imbuing home appliances with exceptional craftsmanship and thoughtful design considerations. How often can you look at something like an air purifier or even a refrigerator and say that it’s actually beautiful? If the current trend is any indication, you’ll be saying it much more often in the future, as technology companies reclaim beauty and style as key values at the forefront of innovation.
To really integrate technology into the lives of consumers, companies have quickly come to realize that the ‘one size fits all’ approach of the past is no longer sufficient. When people look for useful technology, they look for things that can be adapted to the specifics of their day-to-day lives. Consumers today are less interested in the latest must-have fashions, and more interested in customized devices: it’s less about mass-produced trends, and more about carefully tailored attire. These days, mass appeal is all about connecting with the individual, and as a result, companies are putting an emphasis on things like modular technology—products that can be personalized and transformed at the user’s whim. Although it’s still in its early stages, modular tech is looking to take off in the near future, with products becoming increasingly customizable to the specific needs and desires of individual users.
For technology to really make sense in the lives of today’s consumers, it’s got to depart once and for all from that ‘fast fashion’ mentality. In other words, it needs to have staying power. Products and devices need to be durable, resilient, and timeless, otherwise the emphasis on classic aesthetics and modular technology just doesn’t make any sense. This is about more than just making products that are built to last; it’s about making products that are intelligent and environmentally sustainable. At this year IFA Berlin, you can expect to see a much heavier focus on the bigger picture, with products that can withstand the uncertainty of the future. It’s as if innovation has become more thoughtful and intelligent than ever.