Topics to Watch: March 2017

We love this month’s Topics to Watch, which exposes lesser known and taboo themes usually reserved for professionals, wonks and private conversations. In our search for the next big thing in creative and product development, we turn to the behaviors and conversations that have emerged as technology has advanced, cheapened and, in turn, grown widespread.


Adventure games

Adventure games are highly interactive, single player games focused on exploring and puzzle-solving. They lost relevance in recent years due to the rise of other genres like first-person shooters. But they have seen a comeback, spurred by well-publicized success stories of publishers raising crowd-funded capital, the proliferation of mobile gaming and narrative storylines falling out of cultural mega-hits like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. These last two trends have likely been the biggest drivers in their widespread adoption as their appeal grows across ages and gender.

Aerial photography

Photography has never been a stranger to Topics to Watch: we’ve reported on growing conversation across documentary photography and photomontages. These have been driven by the intersection of social media, visual arts and technology. To this last point, aerial photography owes its rise in popularity to the rise of unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones. Previously, only professionals used aerial photography in fields like real estate, surveying and architecture. Today, it’s in the hands of amateurs, fueling an appreciation of a new way to look at the world.

Display resolution

The screen battle is on. As people increasingly turn to devices for visual media—whether it be film, photos or even adventure games—technology must strive to keep up and outpace people’s expectations and the competition. Right now, this battle is being fought over display resolutions and processing speeds across mobile devices and TVs. As people expect screens to get smaller and flatter, more streaming and more complex gaming, we expect topics usually in the computer science and technology domain—like web hosting services and user experience—to continue to enter the mainstream.

E-commerce

Facebook recently reported that 2016 was the first year it saw more mobile conversions than desktop conversions for the entire Holiday Season. E-commerce is certainly not new—it’s one of the internet’s original killer apps. Today, e-commerce is not only reinventing how people buy, but also how businesses are being built. New dynamics have entered the marketplace: businesses that are direct-to-consumer, subscription-based services and expanding global platforms. The focus on e-commerce should not come as a surprise when people can order a mattress in a box!

Hair removal

Last month we saw hair transplantation. But this month we’re seeing the opposite: hair removal? These topics are two sides of the same coin: an obsession with bodily hair that traces as far back as ancient Egypt. So why now? For one, because the technology has shifted from yesteryear’s sea shell tweezers to today’s laser technology. But there’s more: today celebrities go without make-up, reality stars augment their bodies and insiders, like make-up artists, garner their own social media followings. The veil has been lifted on the lengths women go to beautify themselves—and previously taboo topics, like bodily hair, have started to surface.

Streetwear

Many see streetwear for more than the clothes—the quintessential hoodies, sneakers and t-shirts—they’re associated with. Those who create streetwear see it as a reflection of their locale (including disputed origins from California to New York) as well as the sub-cultures it often overlaps with (such as surfing, skateboarding or hip-hop). But perhaps streetwear’s defining characteristic is being produced and distributed outside of established fashion houses. Despite its humble origins, today streetwear has outsize influence on mainstream brands, which are embracing it as much as they embrace sportswear. Today, street fashion is taking its place next to high fashion.