THE SUMMER OF ROBOTS, POKÈMON AND BREXIT FASHION

This week we explore: what are the retail, fashion and digital trends of summer 2016?

 DIY… Or let cute robots do it: DIY store staff are often sadly under-informed about their products and know less about their admittedly large ranges than the customer. But help is on the way, as Lowe’s Home Improvement store in the US is piloting a clever robot that knows everything, can do stock check all by himself, can carry out replenishments with a smile and will advise you with a chirpy tone of voice. He can also show you a video if the self-assembly instructions on that garden bench are a little too cryptic. Although today’s retailers on the whole are shying away from opening more brick-and-mortar stores, DIY stores like IKEA or Homebase can’t easily move their whole range online due to the complexity of the purchase process, so for now they’re stuck with the physical store format. They’ll be eager to follow Lowe’s example to add value in-store through well-informed and good looking automated sales assistants. Next step – a handsome robot that we can take home to put the shelves up? Can’t wait!

The Englishman’s home is his castle: Not so handsome but more reliable (alas often a trade-off with the male of the species), a new security robot suitable for both homes and retail stores is launching on the Indiegogo crowdsourcing platform. Amaryllo can recognise faces, alert you about intruders, track visitors (mother-in-law approaching alert!) and allow remote viewing of your home pet from the comfort of your office desktop or mobile. It has top of the range night vision and can give misbehaving guests a good talking to as it’s equipped with a range of voice capabilities. Homeowners will love it, but so will retailers. Does it spell the end of security guards in retail stores?

Bulbasaur a go-go: Once robots take over all of the human work, we’ill have more time to play AR games. Our office is near one of the most popular Pokémon Go ‘gyms’, so we love watching the gamers on our own doorsteps. Pokémon Go is going from strength to strength so, not to miss out on the craze, 3D-printing creatives are busy offering you delightful Pokémon-themed phone covers, team charms and must-have Bulbasaur pot plants. No house can exist without one – the designs can be found here.

For those progressing fast through the levels, don’t miss out on Valor wristband team charms from our favourite 3D-printing company Shapeways – if you want to watch one being made, pop in to IMaKR in London or New York and get your own customised version in the colour of your team!

Live streaming help from FB: More time wasted, or a useful feature? Live streaming on Facebook is at present just annoying, with amateur broadcasters pushing somewhat uninspiring live videos on unsuspecting friends. Certainly our unfollow button is working overtime. However, FB is betting the farm on live streaming in 360 and has just released free designs of 360 cameras to speed up the uptake. The camera is not the first on the market, but the free designs are, so we can safely assume that once the nitty-gritty of pushing so much video through the Internet gets resolved, we will be surrounded by live streaming from shops, catwalks, concerts, restaurants and coffee shops – all from FB. Snapchat, eat your heart out.

Star Trek warning for Brexit fashion: Our Brexiter-In-Chief Theresa May has selected a contemporary coat, ominously titled “Midnight Acid”, from the Amanda Wakeley collection for her visit to the Queen. We have been warned. Samantha Cameron was wearing an equally geometric Roksanda coat for her dramatic exit from Number 10, while Amber Rudd went for a somewhat Star Trek-looking light blue neoprene style jacket. Since Brexit is all about Boldly Going Where No Sane Country Has Gone Before, here’s some inspo for creating suitably bold outfits to keep us clothed appropriately for the long and arduous Brexit journey.

As for fundraising events: VR is having a moment so for the serious VR start-ups, there is a chance to show off your product to San Francisco investors at Disrupt SF. This is particularly important for UK start-ups, as post Brexit the investors are holding on to their cash much tighter than before. Apply, and charm them all. Deadline 5th August!

PS. At the beach? You can use your time well with this handy calculator to work out how much of your precious cash you’ve handed over to Amazon since its launch. Sobering.