Nowadays, many business managers try to reduce the working space which is becoming a global trend because of the increasing price of land. Like the data in the Workplace Design Trends shows, the working space is the second highest expense for a business. In the meantime, due to the development of the digital tablets such as iPad Pro and Windows Surface Pro, people’s working place is no longer limited by the regular location, which enables them to work at others places like home, café or park. It helps a lot in saving time and increasing the time-management flexibility. It also makes people’s working style be more mobile and multiple-choice. As a matter of course, based on the existing global trends mentioned above, once people have more spare time, it’s more possible for them to enjoy leisure activities, which would bring more possibilities to future leisure services.
- Let’s move our eye on how people spend their leisure time now. The research done by Boniwell (2008) demonstrated that main consumer for people’s free time is television. People squander more than 14 hours a week in front of the TV screens (Boniwell, 2008). The television plays a significant role in everyone’s daily life, it even could be regarded as a common hobby. It might because TV benefits people a lot as an original media. People learning, sharing and having fun from the various TV programs. It throws to people a large amount of global information in few seconds without going out and talking to people. Nevertheless, people won’t stop exploring the virtual world. The appearance of a technology – Augment Reality(AR) draws people’s desire and interest in the virtual world. It develops very fast and starts a boom of virtual experience. A popular online game called “Pokemon Go” examined the miraculous power when the virtual was combined with the real. Based on the AR technology, it brings the virtual characters into the real world scenarios to create a new gaming experience for the players. Many people were engaged by the exciting new experience, it influenced not just players, but the whole society. People get more opportunities on social and working out because of this game. Though the virtual world in developing isn’t perfect and has the negative side somehow, the changes it made and the potential value it could bring to the world can not be denied. In my point of view, as the research of “virtual” goes further, more derivatives, opportunities and possibilities would be found in many other fields.
- When people do engage in doing leisure activities, they are likely to squeeze a lot of activities in a short time, which is named as “time deepening”. Time deepening is a strategy used to deal with the multitasking situation and maximizing the time utilization by managing people’s time precisely. The examples of doing this strategy are shortening the time for each event and choosing a quicker activity instead of a time-consuming one(Millen,2000). This strategy kind of reflected the phenomenon that people, especially who lives in the modern city, have a strong feeling of lacking time to do what they want to do which is called “time famine”. The research shows that by a margin of around 6 to 1, the thing people desire most is the free time which is far more than the wealth (Personal Development Training, 2017). This problem is more obvious in the group with higher level income. Therefore, as the voice of having more leisure time becoming louder and louder, the time deepening strategy would be very practical.
- Also, people love spending time on the internet once they get the free time. The largest group is teens who spend almost 9 hours per day on the internet, particularly on the social platforms (Asano, 2017). However, people noticed that different user group have a quite different preference or needs for the websites. After the Responsive Web Design (RWD) upsurge, it seems that the next trend since 2017 would be the age responsive design (Morris, 2017). It could offer further optimization and tailoring to web pages to deliver a better and smoother interaction for people with different needs ( Morris, 2017). Just like children would rather watching cartoons than news whilst their parents are opposite. Similarly, when people are choosing the websites, children normally like cute and fancy websites while the elderly prefer the websites with the clear and well-organized layout. In the age responsive website, the version of UI is depending on the different age group. As what is explained above, if a kid and an elderly use the same website, the kids would see more pictures, videos and animations instead of words while the elderly would see the fonts in bigger size and simple interface, so that different user group don’t have to share the same online experience (Buckley,2016). No size fits all, whether for RWD or age responsive design, the importance of customization and personalization is being highlighted and coming to public’s eyesight inch by inch. The customized service enables each person to see their own special points, it will work very well in building a better experience and also making the life easier.
Stoyle, 2014. [image] Available at:http://linguistics-research-digest.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/young-old-or-just-emerging-how-does-age.html [Accessed on 22.6.17]
- Virtual aside, there are some tangible services offered for people’s leisure time as well. The case I’d like to talk about is the “Midnight Diner service”. In the beginning, Midnight Diner is a Japanese TV series remade from a manga written by Yaro Abe, which tells some short story happened in a little restaurant called Midnight Diner. The protagonist is a chef who owns the restaurant which opens only from midnight to the early morning. So the main customers are the people who have just finished their work overtime. Their leisure time is very late and short because of the intense work in the daytime. The customers can order dishes from the menu or the others they want to eat, the owner would cook for them as long as he could do it. Obviously, this is a kind of customized service, but customization is not the most amazing part in this case. The restaurant is really small and cozy, so people have to sit closely around the bar counter which gives them a chance to socialize before the meals are ready. Though they don’t know each other before, they sit together, eat the warm food, share the life experience and happy or sad stories and encourage each other like old friends. The owner is a good listener and a friend who seldom joins people’s talking but could remember each frequenter’s taste. The articles written by Burkeman(2015) and Sue(2016) both show that it’s easier for people to tell their worries even secrets to strangers. The famous paper “strength of weak ties”( Granovetter, 1973) talked about this issue, too. Sometimes the weak ties network is ‘visible’ on social platforms like Facebook, which is the easiest way to get in touch with the weak ties and expand people’s interpersonal relationship. Sometimes it’s according to intermediaries, which seems works better, like finding a job or having a blind date. It gives people chance to know new things and explore new areas. The Midnight Diner reflected people’s emotional needs nowadays. They have too much pressure which is mainly given by people they have strong ties with, such as family members and boss. People want to pour out their feelings to whom they have weak ties with or even strangers because they can hardly make a difference to each other’s lives and don’t have to worry about the consequence. There are several frequenters in this Midnight Diner, they make new ties each time they have the new customer, then the new customers become frequenters as well. This business managing strategy helps a lot in increasing customer agglutinant. In a word, what this restaurant offers is not only about selling customizable food, but also a place for social as well as the leisure food service for people with late leisure time to pour out their feelings, taking care of their emotional needs. Although this business model originates from a fake story, in some countries, people do bring it to the real world and work well. Generally, the Midnight Diner examined a fact that using a proper leisure service to create a new business model might make a boom in an old industry.
Weak Signals and Provocation
Based on the case studies and secondary research above, we might see some weak signals of the future trends, such as:
- Virtual and physical connected
- Maximize the time utilization
- Customization and personalization
- Business and leisure service combined
Therefore, my provocation according to these weak signals from the research is “What if people have a business related customizable service that could help them maximize the time utilization in by a virtual-physical-connect way?”. To be more specific, the assumption is “What if people could enjoy a personalized online leisure service which could also stimulate consumption during their sleeping time based on the Full Dive technology(Eisenberg, 2016)?”.The term of “Full Dive” was firstly mentioned in a Japanese light novel anime series, Sword Art Online, written by Reki Kawahara (2009). This Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) released in 2022 is called Sword Art Online (SAO). It works with the “NerveGear” BMI helmets and has 10,000 online players ( Eisenberg, 2016). The Full Dive is slightly different from normal VR device, it’s really immersed and could dive into people’s mind to create a more vivid virtual world. The main purpose of choosing the sleeping time as the scenario is to create more leisure time for people who are far too busy to have free time for activities like shopping or going to park in the daytime. For most of them, the overwhelming work during the day makes the night time into their only leisure time which is extremely scarce, especially for the office workers who always have to work overtime in the office building. This phenomenon leads to a consequence that people intend to sleep later and later to extend their leisure time at night which is another existing global trend. One post on Yahoo Japan (2009), it shows that on a worldwide average, the percentage of people who still keep awake at 12 a.m. are 37%. 34% of them are Americans, 32% Europeans, and 40% people are from the Asian-Pacific region. Most of the night owls are in the 20’s, while in the Asia-Pacific Ocean region the night owls are in the 30’s. Furthermore, an article on Yidu (2016) also tells that there’s no country whose people average sleeping time is before 12 a.m. But compared to extending the leisure time by sacrificing the sleeping time, using the time-deepening strategy to help people enjoy both leisure activities and sleeping at the same time would be more lovely, which is the purpose of my provocation.
Prototyping and Experiment
Prototype: The full-dive pillow. Using the full-dive pillow instead of the heavy helmet to help people fall asleep at night and get into the virtual world smoothly by diving into their mind. To be more detailed, while people lying on the bed, this pillow would help them fall asleep by wave intervention. Each pillow has to be registered by only one player and connected to his personal credit. After all the information is verified, the customers are able to enjoy the amazing trip. Their mind would travel to the virtual world set in advance which looks the same as the real world. Since the system knows the user’s preference by diving into their mind, everything happened in that world caters to the user needs based on real-time analysis on the psychological and emotional changing. For example, in the shopping centre, if someone is used to shopping alone, there would be no one in the online shops except herself and no queue. Furthermore, when people would like to try the clothes, they could see how they look like immediately in the third perspective, without a fitting room or even a mirror. People could just order the commodities “online”, collect and pay for their parcel after they wake up in the next day morning. Furthermore, besides the shopping centre, there are some other different scenarios and themes user could choose from, such as amusement park. Similar to the shopping experience, people could experience all amusement unit without queuing and pay online in the next day. Don’t worry about the five senses experience, imagine how real people feel when they are in their dreams, seldom people would doubt the authenticity of the dream when they do in a dream.
In order to test and verify the feasibility degree of this online experience, I did some experiments according to the customer perspective. I invited three volunteers, two students and an accommodation staff. Before we start, they were guided how to start the pillow. The full-dive pillow consists of the cotton filler, a charger set, various-style pillow covers and a main wave controller with a power button, an indicator light, an emergency stop button and a card slot. The charger is fixed on the bed so they could be connected with ports on the back side of the pillow for daily charging. Take out the controller hidden in the pillow at the right-hand side, insert the chip to the card slot and push the power button to start. After the pillow is ready, they were given an eyeshade for better sleeping atmosphere. I put some soft music to help them calm down with their eyes closed and be ready to travel in the virtual world in the next half an hour. Then, like a hypnotherapist, I put a clock on the bedside table, made sure they could hear the sound of clock pointers. Because of the limitation that the full dive technology now is still in a very initial developing stage, the main method I used to give people immersing feeling is some intermittent hypnotic suggestions. I described the scenario in details so that they could imagine what it looks like and what happened. Then I tried to describe less and persuade them to talk more about what they saw and how they felt.
A girl named Caroline who is a student said she likes the shopping idea because it’s really convenient and exciting. it makes up the disadvantages of the existing online shopping experience like disenabling to try the clothes and spending too much time on picking the clothes and brands cater to her taste. However, it’s hard for her to know deeper because lacking the real full-dive experience. “It sounds really cool. “Justin said. justin is a student who loves sports. He has the same difficulty as Caroline about the imagination. Moreover, he concerned about whether he could sleep well if his mind keeps working during the sleeping time. The last volunteer, Rachel, an accommodation staff who has Dyssomnias for 3 years. She is the people who would rather sacrifice the sleeping time to extend the leisure time than sleep early. sleeping makes her kind of anxious because it means she would be busy again since she wakes up in the morning. As time goes, she found she has Dyssomnias. She said this pillow might engage her to sleep early because she could enjoy the leisure time in her dream without staying up late at night. so it might be helpful if she could fall asleep in a good mood.
The Five Trends
This experiment looks like a kind of role playing but the users just need to be themselves and talk about how they think in different scenarios. From the feedback of this experiment, we could see that the lack of technology support limited the user’s experience. However, this experiment does help me to find some factors which I didn’t think too much such as who would be the supervisor of this world and the information security. With the user experiment feedback and the weak signals I found, five trends could be defined throughout the whole process.
- Firstly, it is inevitable that more leisure service would be virtual and real world connected. The virtual technology develops at an incredible speed, especially after it is brought to the real life scenarios. It has been widely used in many fields and industries now. It’s also a really good and easy way to engage people because most of them love the interplay between the virtual and the real, the tangible and intangible. These virtual technologies like VR or AR do bring a new and exciting experience with more fun to the real life which could enable this boom last for quite a few more years in the future.
- Secondly, those time management strategies like “time deepening” will be used widely in the service design area. People’s desire for leisure time is becoming stronger and stronger now. As this problem goes worse, service designers are responsible for filling this gap by thinking more about how to help users to maximize the time utilization.
- Thirdly, the future leisure service would be more customized and personalized based on the different needs and features of the different user groups. In addition, the target even could be an individual user instead of a user group. People love the unique things, the same for an experience. A customized service could save many troublesome and refine the experience since each one’s preference is known by the service provider well. No one would have to share the same service experience with others. The customization would no longer be the VIP privilege in the future.
- So if customized service expanded widely, some problems like private information security would be aroused. For instance, not merely in my leisure service prototype, but also in many existing services, they get a large amount of private information from users for various reasons. In the virtual world, who should take the responsibility to supervise this problem and protect the people from private information leaking is the thing that people ought to consider. Therefore, in order to deal with this concern, the future service designers have to equipped with more professional knowledge about other disciplines like ethics; or the future service design team would be more complicated which combined with several experts from different fields like psychology, anthropology, ethics and sociology, not only service designers. The different experts would be chosen according to the different project.
- Last but not least, based on the experiment I’ve done, a leisure service in future even could be used as a special therapy to help cure the disease like the Dyssomnias Rachel has. From the feedback of Justin, he also mentioned the health concern. Though high technology could bring a fresh air to the people’s normal life, the health problem would always be the benchmark for a good service, or even could be the match point of the future services as the development of the high-technology. So a “leisure therapy service” could be one of the service design trends as well.
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