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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 January 2008, 11:01 GMT
The shape of things to come

By Martha Buckley
BBC News

Radical transparency, see-hear-buy and secret bling - trend-prediction experts on what's likely to become part of our lives in 2008.

Last year Facebook became the word on everyone's lips, this year it could be make-it-yourself or local networking that gets you hooked.

There will almost certainly be something by the end of 2008 that most of the nation will be wondering how they ever lived without. What will it be?

The trend-prediction industry is currently in overdrive trying to narrow down the possibilities. Here's what the experts think.


Creating your own music, video and multimedia productions and posting them online has never been easier. But it will soon be just as easy to create physical goods, by designing them online and having them professionally manufactured, say trend spotters.

According to, the next 12 months will see an increasing sophistication in Make-It-Yourself ventures such as New Zealand-based Ponoko, which helps users achieve their designs in physical form.

In a further twist on the local networking trend, fledgling product designers will be able to join online communities to share tips, market and sell their goods.


Online networking will stay big

Facebook is still big but trend watchers expect the social networking phenomenon to diversify next year, with the rise of smaller, "local" sites for a single neighbourhood, street or building.

While Facebook is good for catching up with friends and exchanging virtual beers, local networking sites could actually turn out to be a lot more useful.

Enabling people to post advertisements. they could help with anything from lost cats to trader recommendations. They also have the potential to recreate the kind of community spirit we like to imagine existed in the days before we spent our lives glued to computer screens.

Stiene Brahm Lauritsen, of London-based trend predictors Futuressence, predicts a more local focus will also help draw more mature internet users into the social networking trend.


Weaned on ever-more sophisticated devices, high-speed internet and growing on-demand services, the 2008 consumer wants access to their media of choice right here and now - a desire manufacturers are queuing up to meet in the coming year.

So-called "see-hear-buy" services are already emerging, with Apple's iTunes WiFi Music Store allowing iPhone or iPod Touch users who hear, find and download a song they like playing in a Starbucks coffee shop straight away.

Amazon's newly-launched Kindle book-reading device delivers books electronically within a minute of them being purchased. And enables users to access and buy a tune simply by humming a bit of it. expects similar services to spring up letting users access TV shows and films by simply saying a few lines in 2008.


Honda FCX Clarity
What colour is eco-friendly?

Blue will be the new green, says the director of trend spotting at JWT Worldwide, Ann Mack.

She says we will stop thinking in terms of "green" actions and policies, with the "blue" of seas and skies becoming the environmental movement's colour du jour.

She says green, which has become associated with an out-dated tree-hugging, sandal and beard-wearing image, will become a sub-set of blue, which will denote an ethos of good-citizenship.

Richard Watson, of Now and Next, thinks "transparent" will be the new green, with everyone and everything going "green and beyond green", as the climate change debate intensifies.

"We'll see more carbon labelling of everyday products and boycotts of imported products that people think (often wrongly) are damaging the planet due to transport," he says.

Whatever label sticks, environmentally-friendly products will be big, with ever more desirable and luxurious goods, from clothing to cars, marketing themselves on their planet-friendly credentials.


Gold dollar symbol (Image: PA)
A backlash against ostentation?
The trend for uber-bling continues in 2008, particularly in places such as Russia, China and India, where the super-rich with relatively new-found wealth continue to want to spend, spend and spend on ever more ostentatious commodities.

At the other end of the scale, the trend translates to "premium everything", with more luxurious and expensive versions of day-to-day products such as washing powder, toilet paper and bottled water.

However, according to Futuressence, a backlash is beginning, with the feeling that exclusivity should be about showing you have appreciation for the finer things in life, rather than simply the amount of money you spend.

So, in 2008, exclusivity starts to become about being in the know, as well as how much you spend.

For example, a desirable object might be limited edition and expensive but with no monogram, or a monogram hidden on the inside of the object, so only those in the know will realise its value.

Futuressence sees these developments as part of a trend by manufacturers to pre-empt the user's needs and desires as soon as or almost before they've even thought of them.


The divide between the older generation, who treasure their privacy, and younger people who have grown up with a lack of privacy as the norm, will widen, according to JWT.

Brought up on celebrity culture and the internet, with social lives played out on YouTube and Facebook, everything about the young is out in the open and they feel there is nothing to hide.

"As conspicuous consumption in developed countries is decreasing, conspicuous living is at an all-time high, with people clamouring to tell all," says Ms Mack.

As more of these online exhibitionists start looking for jobs or university places, she says they might have to rein back on the personal details they splash online for fear they will put off potential employers or colleges.

People will start putting more effort into managing their online images and she predicts an increase in companies such as Reputation Defender, who promised to remove incorrect, inappropriate, hurtful or slanderous material about clients from the web.


The Wii works by reading body language
In 2007 we saw the start of devices which work by reading the user's body language.

IPhone users touch the screen in a way which mimics what they want the device to do, rather than tapping keys. The Nintendo Wii also works by reading the body movements of the player.

Now Sony Ericsson is preparing to release a phone equipped with a tiny camera to read the user's body language, enabling him or her to answer their phone or change the tune playing on the device's MP3 player with a movement, such as a flick of the wrist.

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