Stakeholder Engagement Winner: Sony FutureScapes
"FutureScapes isn't about predicting the future or developing next year's product line up, it's about getting better at imagining the possibilities - together."
Sony Europe believes that creativity, imagination and above all, a collaborative effort are crucial in developing sustainable solutions for the future. That is why, together with Forum for the Future, it is working in tandem to ally Sony’s R&D experts with Europe’s smartest thinkers, doers, writers and activists.
Through a combination of interviews, face-to-face workshops, media-partnerships and social media, their collective brief was to explore different scenarios for life in 2025 and to develop sustainable lifestyle and technologies to match.
Sony’s 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, Wandular, explores how to promote product longevity in a move towards a circular economy. Sony has envisioned a device that develops with its consumer over a lifetime: a business model that evolves to become more service-based.
Speaking to edie earlier this year, Sony’s development partner for the concept, 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 every time 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.”
Other ideas include Hyper Village which explored a rural ‘high tech and high nature lifestyle’ and the ‘Internet of Things Academy’ that serves to address an emerging new digital divide by making coding and data accessible to everyone.
The project started with a global interview programme and desk research undertaken by Forum for the Future. Following this, four scenarios were created and shared, demonstrating what life could be like in 2025 based on different sustainability outcomes. In November, more than sixty leading European sustainability thinkers, artists, designers, scientists and community leaders took part in a creative brainstorm which saw them respond to the 2025 scenarios.
Short stories exploring life in 2025 were commissioned from leading authors in a range of genres including Michael Marshall Smith, Marcus Sedgwick, and Lesley Lokko.
In addition, a short story competition was held with The Guardian and a live Q&A and feature pieces were hosted on Guardian Sustainable Business to engage professional stakeholders.
Sony and Forum for the Future intend to prototype concepts such as Wandular and are actively seeking input from the wider community. They say their project is about transparency and knowledge sharing – understanding customers and stakeholders’ hopes and fears for the future and connecting Sony’s R&D teams with people and issues outside of their immediate agenda.
Sony Europe chief technology officer and FutureScapes technical lead, Chris Clifton said: “From an R&D viewpoint, FutureScapes has been a really interesting journey.
“It’s certainly refreshing to take a longer view on innovation out to 2025 and being exposed to such an interesting range of sustainability challenges and external perspectives has been extremely stimulating.”
What made this project stand out was its innovative and sophisticated multi-platform approach, engaging an unusually broad range of participants to generate content and using multiple media to engage with a challenging mix of often hard to reach audiences…And it sounds great fun!
Scotia Gas Networks
BT and EP Consulting
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