The Internet of Senses and the retail sector
The next decade will be decisive for the total implantation in the market of the Internet of the Senses, that is, of the technology prepared to respond to our thoughts.
If we talk about the Internet of the Senses, are we analyzing the present or the future? Without a doubt, it is today, the present that will provide tomorrow. Although for many this sounds like science fiction, the change and technological evolution experienced in the last decade is opening up fields that, precisely, we did not even imagine a decade ago. Therefore, the answer is clear: there is less and less for it to be our brain, and not the devices that surround us, which controls our environment.
The next technological revolution will be cognitive computing, or what is the same, as our brain, thanks to virtual reality and augmented reality, the increase in the speed of networks and connections and the use of highly wearable wearables, advanced, directly exchange sensations and perceptions in a connected way. And this concept, in short, is going to be a before and after in the retail sector.
What is the Internet of the Senses?
We already know that the Internet of Senses will change our lives with total security. Now, what exactly does it consist of?
Through artificial intelligence, the development of specific technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, or automation or 5G, the Internet will be able to send us information, and we send it to the Internet, with the five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. What the experts have been announcing is that, by 2030, we will all be capable of having immersive experiences in which we will put all our senses into practice.
From the Internet of Things to the Internet of Senses
With 4G more than established thanks to the popularization of smartphones and wearables in our daily lives, the first big step will be the total insertion of augmented reality, as we recently explained at CAAD. We’re talking about tools that allow us to control our sound environment and experience smell, taste, textures, and temperature digitally. With the rise of immersive entertainment, online commerce and the problem of climate change, consumption in the future is going to be something else, very different from the current one.
In the next decade, sound and digital vision will be complemented by smell, taste or touch, generating multisensory experiences in both physical and online commerce.
The next evolutionary link behind the internet of things explores the sensory boundaries of the web, seeking to merge the digital and real world until they are (almost) indistinguishable. In short, through cognitive computing, the human, the physical and the digital will be brought together to try to imitate the behavior of the human brain through automatic learning systems and natural language processing. It is not the product, it is the experience.
In addition, the Internet of the Senses is the new paradigm that will affect all elements of the retail industry, fundamentally replacing Sensory Marketing. That process of gaining the customer’s attention and trust by appealing to their five senses, of using the senses to generate emotions in the consumer that invite commerce and purchase, will never be the same.
The future of the Internet of Senses
A study carried out by Ericsson Consumer Lab reveals precisely this: technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality, enhanced by the development of 5G and future generations of mobile telephony, will allow a digital interconnection of objects, people and even animals. What was a fictional technological dream is already today, with more than 1 billion connected devices globally, a reality.
According to the survey carried out by the multinational engineering company of 12,590 consumers between the ages of 15 and 69, everything indicates that we will have access to a variety of connected services that interact with the sense of sight, sound, taste, smell and the touch. Translated: the user interface will be the human brain for the devices to respond to our thoughts.
We can fulfill another dream: that a device responds to our thoughts without the need to press a button.
This study collects consumer trends 10 years from now and summarizes them in that the Internet of the Senses will facilitate “a world in which all human senses are digitized.” Taste, smell and touch will be integrated into online networks by 2030, oral devices will appear that allow giving the flavor that you want to any ingested food, there will be gustatory memories and flavors to share with family and friends digitally, etc.
But the forecasts do not stop there. One of the keys, and one that decisively affects the retail sector, is the improvement of tactile experiences. Beyond the vibration of the controls or video game equipment, it is believed that smartphones will be able to reproduce shapes and textures, or the emulation of aromas in a movie.
In short, the interface for navigation would be located in the human brain, so that routes are virtual and thought guides navigation. The end of keyboards, mice, and screens? It is not illogical to imagine it.
On the other hand, it will also be necessary to take into account negative aspects such as data security and the leakage of information to unwanted people.
Playing with the sensory elements
With the Internet of the Senses, the five senses will play a key role in creating emotional associations.
• Eyesight: It will be the one we use the most. In this case, the retail trade will have to be very vigilant, since again, as with the pandemic, habits and forms of consumption will change. The consumer will choose what to buy through an interconnected device, hence the design, decoration and merchandising will be essential at the point of sale.
• Smell: Aromas are decisive in our emotions. Through the smell we can connect with our memories, evoke feelings and direct our attention.
• The ear: Sound, rhythm and volume are very influential in the flow of customers and sales.
• Touch: Temperature or touch sensations are the most “human” part of the practical experience between consumers and points of sale.
• Taste: With the Internet of the Senses, tastings will reach another level.
Internet of Senses Trends
Consumers surveyed by Ericsson, as a main conclusion, predict that screen-based experiences will increasingly compete with multisensory ones, and these will be practically inseparable from reality.
Among the future trends of the Internet of Senses, applied to the retail sector, we find:
• The brain as a user interface: Consumers believe that we can see map routes with virtual reality glasses just by thinking of a destination.
• Realistically imitate the voice with a gadget.
• Manipulate flavors, or digitally enhance the taste of what we eat.
• Digital visits and scents: 6 out of 10 consumers expect to be able to visit shopping malls digitally, as well as experience all the natural smells and sounds of those places.
• Full Touch: Smartphones and their displays will convey the shape and texture of the digital buttons and icons that they are pressing.
• Fused reality: The worlds of virtual reality games will be indistinguishable from physical reality.
• News verification: it will be the beginning of the end for fake news.
• Connected sustainability: Society is expected to be more sustainable from an environmental point of view thanks to the Internet of services based on the senses.
• Sensory shopping: Almost half of those surveyed anticipate digital shopping malls that allow them to use all five senses when shopping.