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In 2012, ‘life’ will take place via ever more pervasive, personal, immersive and interactive screens.

SCREEN CULTURE is less of a trend in itself, but more the medium through which so many trends in this Trend Briefing will manifest themselves. 2012 will see three mega-tech currents converge: screens will be (even more): ubiquitous / mobile / cheap / always on; interactive and intuitive (via touchscreens, tablets and so on); an interface to everything and anything that lies beyond the screen (via the mobile web and, increasingly and finally mainstream in 2012, ‘the cloud'). In fact, the future for most devices will be a world where consumers will care less about them and just about the screen, or rather what’s being accessed through it.

So whether it’s the convergence of ‘online’ and ‘offline’ (see OFF=ON in our recent RETAIL RENAISSANCE Trend Briefing), consumers tapping into THE F-FACTOR to discover and decide on new products with the help of their friends, fans and followers, or never ending mega-trends like 'convenience' or INFOLUST, expect all consumer culture to be influenced by and take place in an all-pervasive SCREEN CULTURE.

And no, there won’t be ‘screen overload’ or ‘screen fatigue’. In fact, the above video is just a taste of things to come for digital natives in 2012 and beyond. Some random signs of the times:

  • UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, in a partnership with television provider Sky, is allowing shoppers to watch key sports events while they shop using in-cart iPad docks and speakers. The Sky Go trolley comes complete with a tilting iPad holder, speakers and an onboard battery with self-charging solar panel. All sports-minded shoppers need to do is download the Sky Go streaming app onto their tablet and then load it into the shopping cart’s dock.

  • The European Parliament’s "Parlamentarium" is the largest visitors' center in Europe, and combines interactive multimedia and history in 23 languages to show the daily lives of EU citizens. A 360-degree digital surround screen takes visitors into the heart of European Parliament action, with touch screen applications providing more information about MEPs. One of the Center's unique features is that it caters for all 23 EU official languages using iPod Touch devices, configurable in any language.

  • South African mobile telecommunications brand 8ta installed touch-activated windows in its stores, enabling customers to browse the retailer’s catalog throughout the day and night. Using technology from digital media company One Digital Media (also based in South Africa), the store's 'whispering windows' act as speakers, allowing shoppers to hear about products, as well as view them in the storefront. In the retail space, further touchscreens utilized on product display tables and embedded in walls showcase 8ta’s products.

  • In September 2011, Sichuan hotpot chain Hao Di Lao and Chinese technology firm Huawei announced a partnership to install telepresence screens in Hao Di Lao’s Shanghai and Beijing restaurants. Customers can sit down and share their hotpot meal with family and friends located elsewhere via the screens. Hao Di Lao customers can already use iPads provided on their tables to order food.
  • And SCREEN CULTURE examples (will) keep coming. In 2012, keep an eye on the iPhone5 and iPad3. And on the Kindle Fire. And on the Aakash tablet.
    Large screens will see an overhaul too: from Apple iTV and Samsung's SmartTV, to a whole host of apps available with GoogleTV to LG's 3D projector to Sony's future TV plans.
    Oh, and with winter hitting the northern hemisphere soon, expect a comeback of Muji's and Etre's screen-friendly gloves.
    Looking further ahead, how about the OmniTouch, a wearable prototype device (from Microsoft Research Redmond) which transforms any surface into a touchscreen via projection? Or Samsung's flexible screens and screen-embedded windows?
    Away from consumer electronics, Adidas and Intel have also showcased a Virtual Footwear Wall, enabling shoppers to browse up to 8,000 shoes at once via a touchscreen interface. Yes, SCREEN CULTURE truly is the culture ;-)