Be inspired by the future: 5 of our favourite innovation triggers

Board of Innovation future scan on a white background

At Board of Innovation we always try to grasp the future. That’s why we created a future scan with +200 triggers to spice up your next innovation brainstorm.

Are you always wondering what direction the future will take? What will our behaviour look like within the context of new environments and inventions? We threw it all on the table and came up with over 200 – some of them more likely than others – future possibilities ranked from the near to the far future.

The next shift across different industries will be powered by next-gen tech and changes in social behaviour. Here are five of our favourite innovation triggers:

Digital transfer of smell

Smell and taste senses are an essential part of everyday life experiences. They trigger lasting emotions and experiences. Imagine being able to smell the perfume of your friend on the other side of the world. There is a not so unrealistic future scenario where we will communicate with fragrances digitally. For instance, Scentee is one of the startups that already makes it possible to communicate with aromas. And when IBM talks about a ‘cognitive computing system’ enabling doctors to diagnose a whole set of diseases based on patients smell, we feel the proximity of a lot of potentially interesting applications. The future smells bright.

Update: This new app wants to be the iTunes of smells. 

10 Year old child is smarter than average adult

The ability of kids to learn much faster than adults and the vastly growing access to knowledge resources triggers the concept of a future where kids are smarter than the average adult now. Are we getting smarter, or are we just thinking differently? Average IQ has been increasing at a rate of about 3 points per decade. They call this observed rise in IQ scores over time the ‘flynn effect’. This in combination with more explorative environments for kids to learn could very well unlock their untapped potential. Kano for example is a computer that kids can build and code themselves. And introduces kids to coding at a young age to stimulate independent problem solving. Anyhow, it is an uncertain future picture but the building blocks appear to be present. Beware for the little ones!

2 hour global travel time

Elon Musk rings a bell? I thought so. Despite him being in the news a tad to much lately, it’s not without reason. If there’s one person who’s trying to grasp the future, it’s him. His concept of the Hyperloop is triggering future scenarios with high-speed transport. Will travelling the globe in only a couple hours become reality? The Hyperloop would take people to San Francisco from LA in 30 minutes (559km). I’d say we’re getting closer but a concept that is really mind-blowing and inspiring is the gravity Train. This ‘elevator’ free falls through a section of the planet to arrive at a destination on the other side. Though it seems inconceivably difficult to construct, it has received some serious scientific attention and research so far. Since Elon Musk is probably busy, I would suggest Richard Branson starts working on this one RIGHT KNOW.

Update: Johan Steelant from the European Space Agency explains us what it would take to make hypersonic jets that fly around the world in 3 hours a reality.

Bio-couture living fashion

Step 1: Brewing the liquid. Step 2: Addition of the live kombucha culture. Step 3: Growth and harvest. Not your typical fashion related terminology? Well, the future might surprise you. There is a burgeoning global movement of makers and innovators who want to ‘hack’ materials in the same way we’ve seen open source software and hardware. Designers such as Suzanne Lee enable collaboration within the global biological materials community in order to rapidly advance innovations never previously imagined. Starting with microbial cellulose, which can be grown in a bucket and used to create a wide variety of biodegradable homewares and fashion accessories. I won’t sign up for a microbial brewed jacket just yet, but it’s inspiring to say the least.

Phone Number dies

We saw this one coming from far away, but sometimes it’s useful to state the obvious. With Facebook pushing their Messenger app & the WhatsApp acquisition, they took a big step in making phone numbers superfluous (not to mention Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.). 


This was a recap of our previous future scan poster. 
You can download our new future scan poster below. You’ll see it’s a great tool during your next innovative brainstorm. 


I’m Nick De Mey, founder Board of Innovation and foresight analyst at Venturesight – foresight-backed venture design. Let’s talk!

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