Tech Trends 2019

Trends 2019

After 50 years of designing new possible futures, frog continues to look ahead at how today’s emerging technologies will affect our lives tomorrow. Collected from frogs across our 22 studios and satellites world-wide, here are 10 trends we believe will have real impact on business, culture and consumers this year.
Trend Report

The Paradox of Trust

What will govern the growth of AI isn’t the technology, but human’s unwillingness to trust it—at least for now. At the crux of this issue is something called the “paradox of trust,” which posits you can’t trust something until you understand it, but you can’t get to know something without first trusting it. We’ve learned to associate computational intelligence with the physical machines that we own and turn on/off, but we are fast building systemic intelligences that are essentially invisible, ambiguously owned and always on. Our ability to know and to trust these AI systems has been further eroded in recent years by brands that have played fast and loose with their customers’ data, failed to report breaches or have profited handsomely from it with little value in return.

In this context, human-centered design has never been more potent. Wider adoption of artificial or autonomous intelligences will depend on designers who not only imagine new use cases, but who attend to the sometimes unsexy moments that foster understanding of these emerging entities and trust in the brands that are building them. Data will be the currency of that trust, and brands that authentically embrace and design for this new paradigm will win.

Oonie Chase, Executive Creative Director, frog San Fransisco
Karin Giefer, Executive Creative Director, frog New York

Everyday Objects as Empathetic Devices

In 2019, everyday objects, from our smartphones to our refrigerators and even to our garments, will be endowed with emotional intelligence—and react accordingly. They will be able to understand emotions not just from our language, but from our physical expressions thanks to a new generation of inexpensive sensors and sensor arrays. These will enable a deeper understanding of our emotional and physical context by measuring our tone of voice and movement, and our physical biometrics like blood pressure, heartbeat, body temperature and skin hydration. An increased miniaturization of such sensors will let them find spaces in products previously too small to house them like smartwatches and headphones. All these data points will make it possible for our physical and digital experiences to become hyper-personalized, not based on traditional inputs like clicks, taps, voice commands and browsing history, but informed by how we feel in that specific moment.

Seth Snyder, Associate Creative Director, frog San Francisco
Patrick Kalaher, VP Strategy and Business Development, frog Boston
Matteo Penzo, Executive Technology Director, frog Milan

Mobility as Amenity

As autonomous mobility becomes increasingly more viable, the cost savings of removing a human driver will mean that passengers likely won’t be the ones paying for their ride. Rather, their hotel, restaurant or employer will be footing the bill. This is because brands will soon realize the benefits of making the trip part of the experience. Retail will use transportation to draw in customers to brick and mortar shops. Real estate holders will offer autonomous vehicles (AVs) to make their buildings more viable options. For employers, mobility or transportation can be treated as an additional benefit: the company could provide an AV shuttle or smart car that allows employees to use their commute time more productively, without having to worry about safety. By taking an AV to the office, employees could use their commute as work time in order to optimize their personal time.

Theo Calvin, Creative Director, North America Auto Sector Creative Lead, frog Austin
Armand Teychene, Design and Innovation Solution Manager, frog Paris

New Retail Gets Experiential

Not all shopping experiences are created equally. In fact, there are two major categories now arising in consumer retail: ‘low involvement,’ made up of those routine, daily purchases that will continue to live online, on-demand, arriving at your doorstep without much thought; and ‘high involvement,’ encompassing more luxury or big-ticket items. For the latter, as the development of e-commerce begins to plateau, these players will start to shift focus back to brick and mortar. However, these will not be your grandma’s department stores. Brands will begin to blend digital and physical experiences to allow for new ways to shop that are more entertaining and information rich.

What might this look like? We’re already seeing inventory-less shops and showrooms in the market, but we believe retailers will need to go one step further to create shopping experiences that are no longer singular. At a concert? You’ll also be whitening your teeth. Hitting a yoga class? You’ll also be shopping for shoes. Brands will be teaming up to create unique experiences that meet their consumers where they are.

Timothy Morey, VP Strategy, frog San Francisco
Rachel Hobart, Senior Visual Designer, frog San Francisco
Joyce Liu, Senior Interaction Designer, frog Shanghai

Cardio Becomes Currency

Smart health and fitness products will have a watershed moment in 2019. Consumers will stop mistaking tracking for improvement because surveillance alone is not progress. Instead, users of health trackers will demand a piece of new revenue streams built on these data warehouses: wearables that reduce health insurance premiums, nutrition apps that order groceries based on body metrics and fitness goals, smart pillboxes that discount prescription costs with increased medication adherence. Simply counting steps is no longer enough—people making the investment in proactive healthcare will be rewarded by healthcare providers, insurers and even brands looking to engage consumers to participate in their health.

Siena Hickey, Strategist, frog New York

The Workplace as Interface

Much like the ubiquitous plastic lobby plant, the open-plan office will refuse to die in 2019. Research condemns it, employees hate it, yet rising costs will continue to justify denser workplaces. The good news is that smart tech from the residential sector will make its way to the office, allowing architects to reframe the spaces we use as dynamic systems in the hands of workers. Companies will design workplaces as interfaces, fusing technology, architecture and experience design into an instrument of company culture. Watch for highly customizable furniture like the “blank bench” combining flexibility and environmental intelligence to accelerate individual workflows. Also, expect more options for remote collaboration, where each employee selects a company workplace according to their lifestyle. An adaptable workplace for a diverse workforce may be a competitive advantage in 2019, but is likely to soon become our way of work/life.

Elizabeth Wehr, Architectural Designer, frog Austin
Sheldon Pacotti, Associate Director, Solutions Architecture, frogAustin
Christophe Temple, UX Design Director, frog Paris

Female-First Products and Services

The female experience is being celebrated, externalized and catered to like never before. Women are de-stigmatizing breastfeeding, periods, female pleasure, postpartum and women’s healthcare. And women aren’t just taking back the conversation, they’re building better products and services that honor feminine needs. Consider companies like Thinx, Crave, Willow, Elvie, Lola, Livia, Sustain and Maven to name a few. All are founded by or led by women with industry experience that are building better, cleaner and more sophisticated products and services that challenge norms and exceed expectations. This focus on women is leading to a massive expansion of women’s fertility healthcare startups, particularly around egg/embryo freezing and IVF. One million millennial women are becoming mothers each year—and the VC world is taking notice. We will continue to see a proliferation of companies that are using customer experience and brand strategy to compete on these nearly commoditized services.

Inbal Etgar, Director Industrial Design & Product Development, frog San Francisco
Anshul Sharma, Senior Strategist, frog New York

Micro-Moments Will Rule Search

We’re on the verge of an explosion of voice-assisted products. Already, over a third of Americans have a voice-assistant speaker. That number is projected to reach 48 percent after the end of this holiday season. In this astounding proliferation, voice-controlled “smart assistants” will be even busier, and so will their makers and marketers, since a good SEO strategy must now adapt to voice searches, rather than just text. Brands will have to re-think their experiences around these micro-moments—the split second that someone no longer has to reach for the nearest device, but can simply ask out loud whatever they are looking for. Just as SEO created competition in the real estate of written words, the most accessible and intuitive commands will win out in the battle for the best voice-controlled assistant.

Ryan Wickre, Senior Mechanical Engineer, frog San Francisco
Cristina Reglero, Innovation Marketing Manager, frog Madrid

Sustainability Beats Out Convenience

We live in a culture that still heavily promotes mindless consumption, but as we’re seeing more of the consequences of this (i.e. climate change), consumers are calling for more sustainable products. The challenge companies will face is competing with easy, affordable, but ultimately harmful single-use plastics. We will start to see companies take on this challenge by developing products that are 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable. Disruptors will create systems to make sustainability more accessible. This will have a huge impact on online shopping, which is comparatively more harmful to the environment than brick-and-mortar retail largely thanks to its increased use of packaging materials. 2019 will be the year that e-commerce radically rethinks the way it gets its products from stores to users—and the year that consumers start demanding more.

Emily Du, frog alum, frog San Francisco
Sam Haddaway, Senior Strategist, frog San Francisco
Jon Grossman, frog alum, frog San Francisco

Designing Our Off-Screen Lives

There is no denying that tech addiction is real. According to a Pew Research Center report, 45 percent of U.S. teenagers say they’re online almost constantly. Other surveys demonstrate the different behavioral changes people have made to curb their tech usage to varying degrees of success. This reliance on tech is real because it was designed that way. Interfaces and experiences designed within the last 10 years have been entirely focused on getting folks on screens, not off of them. The call now is for companies to create sticky, valuable digital products that fit into consumers’ lives without overtaking them. In the coming years, there will be a new wave of UX/UI design and technology to not only improve our lives on screen, but off screen as well.

Rachel Hobart, Senior Visual Designer, frog San Francisco
Kat Davis, Associate Creative Director, frog San Francisco
Jonathan Kim, Industrial Designer II, frog San Francisco


frog, part of Capgemini Invent is a global design and innovation firm. We transform businesses at scale by creating systems of brand, product and service that deliver a distinctly better experience. We strive to touch hearts and move markets. Our passion is to transform ideas into realities. We partner with clients to anticipate the future, evolve organizations and advance the human experience.

Illustrations by Amrita Marino
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