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Nokia-insightsESPOO, Finland – Trend research plays a key role in understanding what’s going to happen in the future. Creating an understanding of how people’s needs are changing and evolving helps create a clearer idea of where the opportunity for next generation products and services. Oskar Korkman is head of opportunity identification in consumer insights at Nokia and today he shared some of his thoughts for how we’re going to evolve. For Oskar, it’s all about relationships, with everything from strangers to plants firmly in his sights.

Oskar can see a point in the future where people will develop relationships with objects. No, this isn’t about the lady who married a wall, this is about everyday objects interacting with our devices. Using sensors, things like plants will be able to tell us what it needs (food, water etc), sending information to our device which in turn will relay it to us.

If we visit a famous landmark, it can establish its own digital identity. Through our devices, we can see who has visited it today, what they did and even check out images and reviews of the place. This all exists right now, but with an ecosystem that brings all that information together we get a useful digital profile of the landmark.

Nokia is looking at the bond that binds relationships. Right now people tend to leave technology out of their close relationships. In the future though, the information we share over the Internet will change and evolve that, placing technology at the centre of the bonding process. Not in an intrusive way, but as an enabler. I can see this evolution beginning now. We’re already doing it with friendships, and as we share more digitally, it’s an inevitable next step.

Take relationships further out where people are joined together through a common purpose or goal. Think about mass participation events. The mobile ecosystem can add a completely new dimension to these gatherings, enabling complete strangers to share experiences and digital aspects of the common bond. This potentially brings complete strangers together in a way they’d never have had before.

The key for me in all of this is where technology is an enabler, rather than being the focus of what’s happening. I like the ideas, and can see how it can happen and more importantly how it can be useful (yes, I’d love my phone to remind me that the plants need to be watering!). The question is, can it happen without taking over?