How technology is changing our perception of possession

NaomiMortonDuring my working hours I spend a lot of time wandering through the internet, looking for new technologies, platforms, products and services. I aim to find the elements within these things that make them interesting or innovative.

Whilst I’m looking around I also get to see how they affect human behaviour, and that’s what makes it really interesting for me.

Our idea of owning a physical item is changing, here are three things I’ve noticed enabling this change:

Surprising Subscription Models

There are some things you need at regular intervals in life. You know roughly how many or how much use you’ll get out of them in a month. So why not just set up a Direct Debit for the amount it costs you to ‘have’ that product. Get it delivered to you at the time you need it, and never have to think about it again?

That’s exactly what some services have started doing. Subscriptions have been created for disposable shavers, snacks, music, and even suits.

This kind of model works best for consumable items or luxury items. You could own a lovely expensive suit, or you could rent it for the occasion you need it. You could buy music, or a few bags of assorted healthy snacks, or you could pay for these to be delivered straight to you, when you want them.

Preferences That Follow You

You can see this best on websites where you are able to save your ‘preferences’ or personal settings for how you view that site. The easiest example of this is on Amazon – the site changes to show you more relevant products and recommendations based on what it knows about you.

Now imagine that, but in a physical store. That is the kind of thing carrying a little computer around in your pocket all day could enable. You can already get apps to change the music playing in a pub, or to have your face and regular purchase come up at the till.

Obviously you don’t ‘own’ the store but soon you may be able to make it your own, just by stepping inside.

Physical Personalisation

This area can sometimes get a bit creepy. If everyone is renting everything, what are people willing to actually purchase and own? Perhaps things made specifically for them, and nobody else.

It is getting easier for us to make products and services incredibly personal. 3D printing is becoming more popular, making manufacturing quicker. Our smart phones are constantly with us and hold a huge amount of data about us.

A great (quite creepy) example of this is Disney’s 3D Printed Princesses – girls can now have their faces put on their favourite Disney princess.

There are always exceptions to these kinds of things. However, maybe, soon brands will own products and we’ll just be subscribed to rent from them. Unless they have our face on!

Naomi Morton is part of the innovation team at glue Isobar, in their Nowlab function, and in the Drum’s Top 30 Women Under 30 in Digital 2012. She runs regular sessions on trends in technology, looking at interesting examples of new or changing technologies, platforms, products and services: http://naomibm.tumblr.com/

2 Comments on How technology is changing our perception of possession

  1. KAREN FINLAYSON // February 4, 2013 at 10:49 am // Reply

    Thanks for keeping us to date Naomi. I hope you’ll continue to contribute to 3rdi as things change so quickly and what seems revolutionary this month may soon seem run of the mill.

    • Thanks Karen, totally agree, I’m always surprised each week I manage to fill an hour long session with new things!

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