BACK TO THE FUTURE

This week [retail bytes] looks ahead to the latest developments in smart clothing, smart transport and smart communications. It’s time our products did the work for us!

Tesla goes Back To The Future 2017 has only just started and already Apple’s magic box of innovation is running thin, with its movers and shakers abandoning ship for Tesla. The truth is that software developers are actually closet propeller heads, so any excuse to work on fast cars (even driver-less ones) rather than phones is a good one. Tesla is developing not just a new car but also a new paradigm for general computing, so if you want to see what the future looks like, follow them (and not just for their DeLorean-style doors). We expect the Tesla Model X to be the car of 2017.

!On yer bike Tesla may be future-proof, but they’re still not as city-friendly as public transport. Even better, you can now be eco-friendly with a smart bike! LeEco has shown a new bicycle concept at CES2017, scoring major Likes with its techie bonuses. You can talk to other LeEco smart bike owners via on-board walkie-talkie technology, and a large screen mounted on the front offers a GPS map display with a built-in fitness tracker. The social aspect of LeEco smart bikes is strong, so expect it to go mainstream in 2017. Not great for shops as bike commuters aren’t shoppers (no space for bags), so with more smart bikes in cities we may see a further slide of footfall and brick-and-mortar sales, but hopefully it will benefit e-commerce’s and its unstoppable growth.

Reclaim smart As air pollution spikes in European cities (London already breached 2017 limits in the first week of the new year), a collective approach to quantifying it is emerging. Smart clothing is being developed to measure air pollution, sense traffic and assist us during emergency situations. 2017 may be the year when ‘smart’ will mean ‘solving a common problem together’ and getting rewards in exchange. About time, and good for shoppers who now prefer to stay online rather than breathe in the Oxford Street smog or NO2 fumes around Marylebone High Street. Smart jackets all the way for 2017.

Android takes the cake As 10% more Android apps are registered on app stores compared to iOS (2.2m to 2m), the growing gap indicates further dark clouds on the horizon for Apple. Despite new development platforms like React Native or Ionic Framework, which make development for both operating systems a lot less time-consuming, the fact that 86.5% of Spain and 76% of Germany use Android will make suppliers weigh up their alliances and re-focus on where future growth might be found.

Skype no more Europeans are increasingly working more from home, but the remote working software scene is full of duds. We’re expecting a further drift away from Skype, the free video-conferencing platform that was bought by Microsoft in 2013 and then promptly pushed out Linux users. Many have moved to the also-free Google Hangouts, or to the low cost GotoMeeting and Join.Me. As companies learn how to manage remote teams more effectively, the competitive advantage of start-ups, small fashion brands and online retail will be in keeping the bandwidth wide and communications frequent and painless. Google Hangouts should be the winner in as it’s solving users’ problems faster than Microsoft – it’s also very popular with the fashion crowd.

Busy this weekend? There’s still time to see Chaos – an exhibition curated by the iconic fashion designer Nicole Farhi at the Hampstead School of Arts gallery. Considering that in 2017 we’ll all have to become more intimate with chaos than ever before, it may be wise to start practicing and admiring its strange beauty. Location: NW3, nearest Tube is Hampstead (Northern Line), and it’s open until 27th January 2017.