This spring, we embarked on an international trend trip to Japan, where we set out to find innovative trends applicable to our clients across industries. Visiting Tokyo and Osaka, as well as a number of other areas, we were able to revisit our anthropological roots, touring museums and showrooms, exploring neighborhoods, and observing as well as participating in everyday life.
AI and digital assistance are on the rise throughout the world, and Japan – long hailed as a leader in tech innovation – is no exception. A key differentiator in Japan, however, is that many new AI features have faces or human elements – making the environment feel much more friendly and approachable.
- Rather than speaking to a Siri or an Alexa – which have human names and voices, though no figures – we would interact with a friendly robot at the train station, who would help us find our destination or greet us as we walked into a shop.
- Actual humans were often standing in the wings to help with the navigation of tech.
We saw various examples of what appeared to be cutting-edge technology integrated with older traditions and systems.
- For example, tapping digital cards to board trains or buses – but being able to load the card only with cash, not a credit or debit card
Beyond the digital realm, we saw an abundance of innovation in technological advances.
- Pushing a button to call waitstaff to our table at a restaurant and taxi doors that automatically opened and closed are just a few nondigital innovations we saw in action
As the world continues to push toward tech, trends we saw in Japan encourage us to think about how to make the digital and AI realms more approachable and how to make life as efficient and smooth as possible using both digital and using innovative new technology methods.
After visiting Japan, our team produced a video to commemorate their trip! Click to view.
June 27, 2019 | Research