Product Design Trends to Watch for in 2019 & Beyond
Product design trends are on our minds as we close in on the end of 2018 and wrap up our 2019 planning and budgeting process.
So, what do we anticipate in the year ahead? What product design trends are influencing decisions and investment for our clients, our profession, and product development overall?
That’s a big question. To narrow it down, we first investigated our 3 key focus areas:
- Healthcare of the Future
- Workplace of the Future
- Lifestyle of the Future
Then, for your reading pleasure, we selected the top 3 product design trends that our experts expect to see influencing outcomes in the year to come.
Here we go…
Healthcare of the Future
- Privatizing Healthcare: We saw this product trend begin in 2018 when three corporate behemoths—Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase—announced that they would form an independent health care company for their employees in the United States.
While this was the event that received most of the press, other companies are also considering creative options to combat rising healthcare costs. We expect this trend to accelerate as more corporations grow frustrated and search for new ways to improve outcomes and get costs under control.
Uber and Lyft ambulance services? Apple or Alphabet (Google) creating the next great medical device or service? Revolution is on the horizon!
- Cybersecurity Concerns: Healthcare ransomware attacks, internet of things (IoT) security, and healthcare data breaches continue to be top concerns for healthcare companies of all types.
How does this relate to product design trends? Cybersecurity concerns will necessitate not only diligence, but also new technologies to help ensure:
- Health-care worker safety
- Patient safety
- Privacy of medical records data
Medical device companies who are providing connected devices people expect, are also facing challenges to ensure products remain safe and effective. While we expect to see incremental improvement in this area, we are, unfortunately, likely in for another rocky year of data breaches and cyber threats.
- Patient and Healthcare Provider Experience: Have you stepped into Dell Seton Medical Center and the University of Texas Medical School Learning Building in downtown Austin lately? It’s nothing short of the future of the patient experience.
Rooms are larger to accommodate families so the patient never has to leave the room and risk secondary problems. The doctors, specialists, nurses…all come to the patient.
When medical staff enters the room, an integrated entertainment / information screen immediately lets patients know who they are, why they’re there and what their role is in the hospital.
Such seemingly small changes in design are in many ways revolutionary, and they point to important product design trends. With careful attention to all of the stakeholders involved in the patient-recovery process, health-care companies can help facilitate dramatic improvement in patient outcomes.
Lifestyle of the Future
- Resurgence of Renewables: Yes, we live in Austin and really, who doesn’t love a good compost bin? But, we are seeing a resurgence in the focus on renewables not experienced since the 80s when we religiously cut up six-pack plastic rings with a vengeance because it was killing fish. This focus is now influencing product design trends and business decisions in a big way.
Ikea recently announced that it will stop selling single-use plastic products in its stores and remove them from its restaurants by 2020.
Beeswax paper and edible plastics are now rising in popularity and more consumers are considering product packaging when they purchase goods.
Take Austin, for example. When the state of Texas overturned a city-wide plastic bag ban, plastic bags didn’t make a big resurgence. Why? Because consumers demanded the change, and business responded!
This will continue as market pressure replaces government regulation.
- Modern Technology Solves Developing World Problems: Okay, we’re a bit biased on this. We get to work with a pretty cool client, ICON, who was selected as one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2018.
But ICON is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what modern technology can do to solve problems that impact people with few, if any, resources. We see a strong desire by technology companies and their employees to figure out ways to improve the lives of people across the globe becoming more pervasive.
This most uplifting of product design trends will factor into employee expectations and experiences when they look for their next role in a very tight job market.
- Explosion of Fun Experiences: Artificial intelligence and virtual reality technologies have really come into their own. And to supplement those technologies, companies are creating immersive and fun capabilities designed to take up consumers’ experiences to new levels.
Case in point: the Blue Goji Infinity VR Treadmill, which changes the most boring of activities into a VR game.
Expect to see more AI and VR integrated with favorite, traditional pastimes—a là Top Golf—become widespread.
Workplace of the Future
- Goods Transportation: Admit it, you’re addicted to that free Amazon Prime 2-day delivery.
Transportation systems contribute to our economies in a significant way. In today’s advanced economies, manufacturing promotes innovation, productivity, and trade more than growth in employment. In these countries, manufacturing has also begun to consume more transportation services and rely on them more heavily.
In 2019 major advances in technologies and new ideas (robot trucks? speedy tunnels?) will improve the movement of goods and services across the globe. While autonomous autos get the headlines, it will be the driverless truck combined with ridesharing technology that will transform the transportation system.
- A Rich Pipeline of Innovations—From AI to nanomaterials to 3-D printing to advanced robotics, the workplace is being fundamentally changed by further productivity gains across industries and geographies.
We expect this to accelerate with businesses focusing on transforming old processes and technologies with the application of ideas and know-how from outside their current industries. With a little help from some brilliant outside designers and engineers, of course!
- Turn systems upside down to achieve creativity—For years, most companies and institutions have focused on relatively short-term (less than 5 years) needs, while ignoring the systems and products that will be necessary to address the far-reaching future.
This is changing.
For example, the U.S. Army has recognized this problem with the establishment of the Futures Command here in Austin. Touted as the Army’s first significant reorganization in over 40 years, this unit is specifically designed to help prepare soldiers for the next generation of warfare.
As more organizations look for new ways to achieve long-term success, this trend that will accelerate and become more pervasive.
It requires fresh eyes and a willingness to change—2 components that are tricky to achieve. And it will separate the winners from the losers in the marketplace.
So there you have it: our top predictions for healthcare, lifestyle, and the workplace in 2019 and beyond.
All 3 of these areas will be impacted by maintaining focus on
- The entire product lifecycle
- All stakeholders’ interactions with products
We look forward to the challenges and opportunities that come with these important product design trends!