Shaping Future: What people want for 2053

What relationship do we want with technology in the future?

What relationship do we want with technology in the future? What technological support do we want for our work, our health, our mobility and our interpersonal relationships? These questions are at the heart of the “Shaping Future” research project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Through the project, the Center for Responsible Research and Innovation (CeRRI) at Fraunhofer IAO devised a model that allows the public to describe their expectations of future technologies and share them with scientists. In interactive workshops, some 100 people of all different ages came up with ideas about how they would like to live in the year 2053. Using creativity and storytelling techniques and design research methods, the workshop participants developed concrete solutions for scenarios in the year 2053. The focus was on four categories: health, work, social relationships and sustainable mobility.

The results of the workshop were evaluated and clustered according to social science principles and then assessed in terms of their technological feasibility by experts from various institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. To engage even more people in a dialogue about future technologies, five designers have created speculative prototypes based on particularly forward-thinking findings.

In their design, shape, tactile qualities, materials and contextualization, these prototypes illustrate the application of the technologies and how people use and interact with them. Even without technical functions, they stimulate discussion about the future options for possible technologies.

Speculative prototype 1: HUMAN+ CARBON- by Johanna Schmeer

Would we be willing to wear technology in order to help the environment or society? The speculative design objects from the series by Johanna Schmeer – including the “Bacterial Skin Light” object shown here – use various esthetically appealing technologies to complement the human body in the year 2053. Each of these objects helps reduce the user’s carbon footprint through sustainable consumption, air filtration and bioluminescence.

Speculative prototype 2: ADAPTIVE ENVIRONMENT by studio milz

The rooms of the future will be fluid and changeable in size, equipment and function. Fixed locations will become secondary considerations. What’s static today will become adaptive tomorrow. ADAPTIVE ENVIRONMENT by studio milz combines the natural spinning abilities of caterpillars with innovative architectural material characteristics: hybrid caterpillars are controlled by means of odorous substances to create individually designable structures and room concepts.

Speculative prototype 3: HEALING MUSCLE PATCH by Florian Born

Multidrug-resistant pathogens are creating huge challenges for the health sector in the 21st century. Simultaneously, there is a growing interest in optimizing the human body by means of smart technologies. The HEALING MUSCLE PATCH prototype by Florian Born presents an innovative technique for immunization and muscle development based on nutrient solutions with bacteria.

Speculative prototype 4: GUT MENTOR by Stefan Schwabe

Every person is a super-organism and each microbiome is as unique as a fingerprint. With GUTMENTOR, Stefan Schwabe explores how this agglomeration of experiences, environmental influences and character attributes can be used for an innovative transplant method and mentoring concept.

These speculative prototypes were unveiled in 2016 as interactive exhibits in JOSEPHS®, a hands-on exhibition venue in the center of Nürnberg run jointly by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg.