Digital Design Talks: 2014 Digital Trends by Nik Badminton

On Wednesday January 29, 2014 VFS Digital Design presented another in its series, Digital Design Talks, featuring current and past students, as well as key industry representatives of the Design field. The theme for Wednesday’s talk was 2014 Digital Trends and the speaker was Nik Badminton, Principal at DesignCultureMind.

Nik has a background in psychology, human interaction and social network theory, as well as 18 years of experience, starting out in software and management consulting, moving into the world of advertising and finally opening his own Product and Innovation Consultancy, DesignCultureMind. The 3 areas covered in his presentation were; People, Business and Things.


The Maker movement – these grassroots initiatives are transforming communities. There has been a 335% growth rate in the last year alone. Contour Crafting and 3D printing is changing the face of design, manufacturing and production. “Anyone with an idea can set assembly lines into motion with little more than a keystroke.” says Chris Anderson, author of the book Maker.  These ideas can be fun or practical, and the scale can be large or small.

Health – self-diagnosis is being revolutionized; the question is, will doctors ultimately be replaced by algorithms? Now we have apps that can instantly measure your heart rate and check out your genome on the 23&Me app. Either way traditional healthcare is changing, with products like the VScan ultrasound that you can carry in your pocket.

Wearable technology – Canada is a frontrunner in the wearable technology field with companies such as Nymi, the wrist band that unlocks everything, from your car to your ipad, Myo, the maker of gesture controlled devices, and Recan Jet, the maker of headset display technology for sports.

Beyond wearable technology, we also have the rapidly advancing field of BioHacking. In other words, we could see implanting things in the body getting a lot more standard. In this Ted X Talk, you can actually see Amal Graafstra opening a dead bolt with his own implanted chip. After all, who needs a Nymi wristband that unlocks everything, if you could have an implant in your wrist that makes your door open?  Maybe after that the only thing you could want is a door that opens with a mere look. And that may not be too far behind with clear circuitry potentially suitable for contact lenses fast being developed.


HR – 2014 will see more change in the way the businesses administer HR and structure their employees; companies such as Value, who want innovators to the extent that they provide their staff with no guidance – they want people to self-drive, to find and create the opportunities that need to be pursued. Kyocera, an electronics company, have a management philosophy based on the idea: “I believe this is the right way to live as a human being”, a holistic philosophy that has worked for them – they are currently celebrating 53 years of profit in a row! And of course, we have more insight from Google and their people philosophy that leads them to rename their Human Resources department “People Operations”. I found a great quote here from Dr John Sullivan who sums it up as: “A strategic focus on people management is necessary because innovations come from people, and you simply can’t maximize innovations unless you are capable of recruiting and retaining innovators. And even then, you must provide them with great managers and an environment that supports innovation.”

Failure – With all great innovation and great leaps forward, comes many failures, many mistakes, which in turn generates great learning and huge strides. Estefania Cortes, DD28, shrewdly compared the leaps forward with the industrial revolution, and we with retrospect we can see the bizarre; the Brush & Shine tool for Bald Men, the Vending Machine for Tanning and the Neck Brush for children who do not wish to wash, being the more bizarre offshoots. However, there is also the pioneering of amphibious vehicles as early as 1750, and Da Vinci’s flying machine plans circa 1485. It is the ability to dream and envision that which does not yet exist that makes true progress and innovation possible, and failure is the price of that vision.


The Internet of Things – I can only surmise this as everything is aware. And potentially judging you. The fridge might be aware that you are on your third beer, and make a frowny face at you. So this is envisioned here with LG HomeChat. You will note that in the demonstration, the fridge is sent a text to to check if the third beer is present, which I can only imagine the gentleman featured, will later feel judged for drinking. However, the brighter side to this is that by increasing awareness we can save money, time and reduce waste. Techradar use the great example of lamp posts:

“For instance, a computer could see how many bulbs have blown across the entire network and make sensible decisions, based on empirical data, about how many new bulbs must be ordered.

It could predict the average time a bulb will last and potentially alert of future problems, it could spot anomalies that suggest vandalism or less predictable problems. It could be made to smartly switch on and off when there’s nobody there and nobody about to arrive.”

M2M or D2D – Machine to Machine or Device to Device – could revolutionize fire detection, health care, town planning, social awareness, vehicles and effect nearly every aspect of our lives. See here for Robo Earth – a test running right now using robots in hospitals to monitor patients and collect data.  Or, look at Mojio  - your car is aware and so you know when you need to change the oil, if your antifreeze levels are low on a cold night, when you are getting towed,  or even what speed your kids are driving your car at.

Nik closed by reminding us that when you name your car, your relationship with the car deepens and experiences involving it are more intense. Empathy is the most essential quality of civilization, and by increasing the awareness of the world around it, we also increase our own awareness of it in return and build stronger relationships and care more about the effects of our actions.  Thus the world is made better. Thanks Nik, and we hope to see you again soon!


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