Screen-based experiences will increasingly compete with multi-sensory ones that will be almost inseparable from reality within the 'internet of senses'

AR glasses

The Ericsson ConsumerLab report predicts 5G consumer use cases will lead to everyone wearing augmented reality glasses in future

Devices that can make dull food taste delicious and allow us to imitate someone else’s voice will be among the future consumer trends in 2030, predicts Ericsson.

The engineering multinational believes we will have access to an array of services due to advancements in connected technology that interact with our senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch.


What is the internet of senses?

And while the internet of things (IoT) is leading to an explosion in intelligent devices like Apple Watches and smart fridges right now, in a decade’s time we could be talking about the “internet of senses”.

Enabled by technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, 5G and automation, consumers surveyed in Ericsson’s ninth ConsumerLab Hot Consumer Trends report predict that screen-based experiences will increasingly compete with multi-sensory ones that will be almost inseparable from reality.

Head of Ericsson’s ConsumerLab and IndustryLab Dr Pernilla Jonsson, who co-authored the report, said: “We’re talking about a shift from current smartphone-based internet connectivity to immersive experiences resulting from our senses being connected.

Ericsson Dr Pernilla Jonsson
Dr Pernilla Jonsson, head of Ericsson’s ConsumerLab and IndustryLab

“This report explores what that could mean for consumers, with augmented reality glasses as the entrance point.

“We did not expect the extent to which consumers already envisage vast changes to our daily lives driven by sensory connectivity through AI, AR, VR, 5G and automation.”


Climate change will drive future consumer trends in 2030

The report was based on the Ericsson ConsumerLab’s global research over the past 24 years, as well as online surveys of “advanced internet users” in 15 of the world’s biggest cities conducted in October this year.

Main drivers for the internet of senses include immersive entertainment, online shopping, the climate crisis and corresponding need to minimise our carbon footprint.

Dr Michael Björn, head of research agenda within the same unit and and report co-author, added: “We often imagine the future as a linear development from today.

“But we already need to consider which opportunities and challenges a world where all human senses are digitalised will bring.

“For example, it could play a significant role in climate action and carbon footprint reduction.

“Many activities can be digitalised to reduce their climate impact. You could go to work, go on vacation, and travel the world, all from your home.

“Consumers expect concerns about individual privacy in the internet of senses to be addressed by the industry.

“For example, possible public concern that our senses could be manipulated to purchase items or services. People will expect necessary protections and guarantees to be put in place.”


Future consumer trends we could see in 2030 within the internet of senses

Your brain is the user interface

Some 59% of consumers believe we will be able to see map routes on VR glasses by simply thinking of a destination.


Voice imitation

Using a microphone, 67% believe they will be able to take on anyone’s voice realistically to fool even family members.


Manipulate flavours

Of those surveyed, 45% predict a device for our mouths that digitally enhances anything we eat, so that any food can taste like our favorite treat.


Digital aroma

About six in 10 expect to be able to digitally visit forests or the countryside, including experiencing all the natural smells of those places.


Total touch

More than six in 10 expect smartphones with screens that convey the shape and texture of the digital icons and buttons they are pressing.


Merged reality

VR game worlds are predicted by seven in 10 to be indistinguishable from physical reality by 2030.

Microsoft HoloLens
Microsoft’s HoloLens enables a mixed reality experience for users – but could the real and digital worlds soon fully merge? (Credit: Microsoft)


News verification

“Fake news” could be finished – half of respondents say news reporting services that feature extensive fact checks will be popular by 2030.


Post-privacy consumers

Half of respondents are “post-privacy consumers” – they expect privacy issues to be fully resolved so they can safely reap the benefits of a data-driven world.


Connected sustainability

Internet of senses-based services will make society more environmentally sustainable, according to six in 10.


Sensory shopping

Some 45% of consumers anticipate digital malls allowing them to use all five senses when shopping.