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AI could run your life in 2030, as consumers look to tech to make lives easier

SINGAPORE — It is the year 2030, and one could wake up to coffee brewed by a robotic barista. Then, a personal assistant running on artificial intelligence (AI) places a breakfast order of avocado toast at a cafe after calibrating the meal based on the individual’s daily nutritional needs.

AI could run your life in 2030, as consumers look to tech to make lives easier

Singapore’s consumer world of the future is called Live More, where consumers aspire to have a more fulfilling and purposeful life and use technology to empower themselves.

SINGAPORE — It is the year 2030, and one could wake up to coffee brewed by a robotic barista. Then, a personal assistant running on artificial intelligence (AI) places a breakfast order of avocado toast at a cafe after calibrating the meal based on the individual’s daily nutritional needs.

Stepping into a smart apartment-tower office, one would be surrounded by friends similarly plugged into the gig economy as they pick and choose projects to work on via a gig platform.

These are insights into the future that professional services firm Ernst & Young drew from a hackathon held in September last year.

The week-long collaboration event saw a diverse group of 95 people — futurists, policymakers, regulators, industry players, academics, activists and Ernst & Young experts — coming together to envision the future Singaporean consumer.

Singapore’s consumer world of the future is called Live More, where consumers aspire to have a more fulfilling and purposeful life and use technology to empower themselves.

Mr Chandan Joshi, Ernst & Young's consumer products and retail leader, presented findings from the Singapore leg of its global consumer modelling initiative at a briefing on Wednesday (Jan 30).

He said that the shift from older mindsets is already visible now.

“If you look at Singapore itself, at least in the era of (former Prime Minister) Lee Kuan Yew, hasn’t it been more about achieving more and earning more, instead of living more?” he asked.

“But the future consumer is not saying that he or she would use technology to make more money. Rather, he or she is saying, ‘I will use technology to live more, to have a more fulfilling life for myself and a more purposeful existence'.”

NO MORE MUNDANE TASKS

Being able to free oneself from the need to complete mundane tasks is an important thing for the future consumer, Mr Joshi said.

These include standing in queues, buying things and having them delivered, administrative work, repetitive tasks and filling in forms. Consumers do not want to do these “if given the choice and option”, he added.

In the future, AI will be used to automate the mundane and virtual personal assistants will become an important part of people’s lives, just as smartphones are today, Mr Joshi said.

TECH FOR YOU

Products and services will be personalised for each individual consumer in the future, with daily activities such as shopping for groceries to health and fitness routines customised using AI platforms.

In over a decade’s time, Ernst & Young envisions that transport — including MRT trains and autonomous vehicles — will become seamless and completely integrated.

Travellers will just need to input their starting point and destination, and the AI will figure out the best combination of transport routes based on the consumer’s choice to “optimise it for cost or time”, Mr Joshi said.

While wearable tech such as Fitbit and the Apple Watch are already available, AI will advance the trend in the future, he added.

For instance, future models could take each individual’s health data and transmit it into a database for a system to make recommendations on what and when to eat and drink, and what kind of exercise the body needs.

“We always have the choice in the end, but these systems will boost our quality of life,” Mr Joshi said.

'KONMARI' YOUR FUTURE LIFE

The consumer of the future will be asset-light because he or she values flexibility, agility and choice over status and security, Mr Joshi said.

With that in mind, subscription models will enable consumers to temporarily use many products and change them whenever they want to.

“For example, instead of having one car and being saddled with costs and maintenance headaches, you may subscribe to a BMW service where you could choose any car from its portfolio for a month or a quarter, then change it in the next.” 

As cars become more autonomous and intelligent, users will be able to easily customise the vehicles to their requirements.

The fashion industry has already embraced the notion of asset-lightness, as Mr Joshi noted that subscription fashion boxes such as Rent the Runway allow consumers to continuously rent and return clothing.

MAKE SHOPPING AN EXPERIENCE

With e-commerce on the rise, brick-and-mortar stores are becoming increasingly outdated and will continue to become more so in the future.

However, that does not mean that they are no longer needed. Mr Joshi said that they “just need to transform themselves” into an “experience venue” in order to stay relevant.

“Even today, you don’t need a physical store to do a transaction,” he added. “But for experience, I might go to a physical location because of the quality of interaction. The range of experience, the choice, the richness... you can’t get that in a smartphone or virtual world.”

Leveraging technology to personalise experiences, some high-end brands such as Burberry have carried out smart mirror experiments. Customers download a mobile application, point their phone at certain objects in the store and a designer appears on the screen to tell the product’s story.

“With that level of detail and involvement, it’s an experience you can’t easily get when you’re isolated online,” Mr Joshi said.

An earlier version of this article had Mr Joshi saying that Stitch Fix and Loot the Runway are examples of subscription fashion boxes that allow consumers to rent and return clothing. This is incorrect. Stitch Fix provides an online personalised styling service and not rentals for clothes. We are sorry for the error. We also verified that the name of the second service should be Rent the Runway.

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