Sony explores futuristic ideas on product longevity

Sustainable consumption is at the core of a new futuristic technology concept from Sony which looks to transform our relationships with the products we buy.

Working in tandem with Forum for the Future, Sony has brainstormed new ways in which society can adapt to the increasing threat of resource scarcity. Its Futurescapes project centres around four themes – products, places, platforms, and philosophies, all of which could help inspire a more sustainable future.

One of the concepts is Wandular which explores how to promote product longevity in the move towards a circular economy where business models evolve to become more service-based.

According to Sony’s development partner for the concept, Engage by Design, the idea is that instead of constantly upgrading a product or gadget, consumers could purchase a single device that would evolve with them over a lifetime by increasing in emotional and personal value.

Speaking to edie, Engage by Design’s founder Rodrigo Bautisa said it was about connecting with products in a more meaningful way.

“We need to make things that have a longer life. For this, they need to be multi-functional, modular, beautiful and personalised,” he said.

“So instead of getting another free phone everytime you upgrade, it allows the user to have a stronger relationship with their existing phone and attach some meaning to it, like you would as a child with a teddy bear.”

Eventually, he added, this could have a significant impact on reducing the amount of waste generated such as disposable electronics as consumers become more aware of their surroundings and relationships to artifacts.

“It will hopefully diminish both consumption and production. Wandular is about making technology more human and mitigating consumer behaviour for wanting new stuff through the use of emotionally durable design and cloud service trends,” he explained.

According to Sony Europe’s general manager for sustainability, Esther Maughan Mclachlan, the aim of Futurescapes was to model a more collaborative approach for sustainability and engage with consumers and the wider world on green issues in a creative way.

“We deliberately chose the futures frame as it was the most emotional and intriguing way to engage – we said ‘lets have fun, be imaginative, be creative’,” she told edie.

In the process, Sony ended up connecting with an eclectic range of stakeholders including citizenship leaders, robot designers and deep space experts.

“No one company can solve this [sustainability] problem by themselves. We are now looking for ways to take this forward, we want to continue this conversation,” Mclachlan said.

She stressed that the Wandular project was not about developing “short-term product line-ups” but hoped that the thinking around the concept would influence Sony’s corporate strategy going forward.

“We want our products and the way consumers use those products to be emotionally engaging and deliver a rich experience,” she added.

Maxine Perella

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