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ACCLIMATORS

How tech can help mitigate the effects of climate change

This article contains elements of our Consumer Tech Industry Update, detailing how ACCLIMATORS manifests within this vertical, why the trend is relevant now, which brands are driving the movement and — of course — your key takeaways.

TrendWatching publishes 15 Industry Updates every quarter, each featuring an industry-specific trend and exclusively available to members of Amplify, our Trend Intelligence Platform.

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Turn up efforts to cool down eco-discomfort

Daily environmental aggressors — from air pollution to wildly oscillating temperatures — have become impossible to ignore.

Aware of Earth’s increasingly inhospitable climate and the resulting effects on their wellbeing, consumers are seeking out technology that provides them with climate comfort. Which means forward-thinking brands need to include both short-term relief and long-term harm-reduction in their climate protection efforts.

How will you help consumers weather adverse conditions?

Why now?

While toxic smog in Asia is well documented, the conversation has now spread across the globe: a landmark ruling from the UK in 2020 dovetailed with heightened awareness about air quality triggered by the pandemic. This realization has been compounded by the continued rise in extreme weather events from Beijing to Mexico. As wildfire smoke billowed over the US East Coast in June 2023, Google searches for ‘air purifier’ lept by 450%, mirroring surges in the stock market. Innovations once dismissed as ludicrous, such as Dyson Zone’s air-purifying headphones, became passports to the outside world.

But it’s not just tech. Across industries, consumers are seeking out personal solutions that provide a safety blanket from the perils of an increasingly hostile environment — whether in the form of indestructible clothing or climate-resistant skincare. For consumer tech brands, the first question is whether to help consumers tame, evade or defend against climate aggressors. And secondly, how?

Acclimators-WhyNow

Google

Tool helps communities stay safe during extreme heat events

In April 2023, Google announced plans to integrate Extreme Heat warnings into search results to help people stay informed about heat risks. Extreme heat is responsible for nearly half a million annual deaths, and Google wants to make life-saving information easier to find. The new alerts will be incorporated into search results when someone searches for extreme heat-related terms such as 'heat wave'. It will include details on when a heat wave is predicted to start and end, tips on staying cool and related health concerns.

Apple Arcade

Sustainable urban planning game provides eco lessons

In May 2023, Cityscapes: Sim Builder launched on Apple Arcade, becoming the first city-builder game on the platform. Players are tasked with 'building carefully thought-out systems to protect the health and happiness of citizens.' Assuming the role of mayor, their challenges include managing the distribution of green spaces to mitigate pollution generated by buildings, and ensuring the city can be navigated on foot and by bike. The game aims to educate consumers about the relationship between urban planning and climate change, providing lessons that can be applied to daily life.

Silent Cicada

Wrist strap provides personal air conditioning on the go

Silent Cicada is a Singapore-based startup with plans to shake up the world of personal cooling. The wearable wrist-strap device launched on Kickstarter in May 2023 with a view to provide air conditioning on the go. By applying a battery-powered cooling pad to the wearer’s radial and brachial arteries, Silent Cicada lowers overall body temperature using less than 1% of the energy used by a typical air conditioning unit. The devices come in various sizes to suit all ages and genders, with the first batch shipped to backers in July 2023.

Next-Steps

Your key takeaways

  1. Google uses people's IP addresses to ascertain their local weather conditions, a concept that could extend to warnings that their phone or laptop will overheat – excessive temperatures can significantly affect a device's functionality. Aside from including climate resilience in product redesigns, can you incorporate other secondary consequences of weather forecasts into your products or services?
  2. At its core, gamification is about education. And on Apple Arcade, which reportedly has 100 million users, Cityscapes: Sim Builder is spreading the climate message far and wide. Taking this innovation IRL, could you focus on how your customers’ lifestyle choices affect their actual (sub)urban surroundings? Try applying the Sim Builder mode of thinking to your products, much like Husqvarna did with its rewilding lawn mower, enabling consumers to contribute to a healthier environment for all.

  3. When the Dyson Zone air-purifying headphones were announced, they were met with ridicule. Now, they're touted as the future normal. Silent Cicada’s wearable could follow a similar path. In the coming decades, devices that regulate temperature won’t be a luxury but an essential — providing a more cost-effective and energy-efficient alternative to air conditioners and heat pumps. Is your brand still reeling from the novelty of extreme weather, or working on solutions? As demand for this type of product grows, it could be worth exploring partnerships with fashion brands, too.

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