Wellness 2030: using technology to find happiness

What will make us happy in future? Which technologies will support us? The new GDI study ‘Wellness 2030’ discusses the latest possibilities.
21 February, 2018 by
Wellness 2030: Glück durch Technologie
GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

During the 20th century, health and wellness formed an integral part of clinical medicine. The aim was to rectify faults and defects, not least for the purpose of remaining effective on the employment market. Today, the main focus is on preventative wellness consumption. Consumers no longer wish to simply follow the instructions of doctors and other experts, but also to develop their own skills themselves. After all, the most important health decisions are being taken less and less at the doctor’s or in the chemist, but rather in the supermarket during regular shopping.

Step by step, we are becoming aware of how we can use new technologies to increase our potential and to hear, see, and learn more quickly, thereby improving ourselves.

The following graph shows which technologies will aid our happiness in future – and are even partly helping today:

The body

Brain Computer Interface (BCI) – A brain-computer interface such as Neuralink can be used to operate machines using our thoughts alone.
Brainwave sensors – Brainwave sensors by Berkeley Ultrasound are used to treat depression, PTSD, TBI, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Smart Lenses – Google Verily and Alcon
Now: a glucose lens monitors the glucose level.
Future: information will be added about objects from our environments.

Bioelectronic medication (implants) – e. g. Galvani Bioelectronics (joint venture between Verily & GlaxoSmithKline)
Bioelectronic medication is an emerging scientific field. The aim is to use tiny implantable devices to alter precise electrical signals in the nerves in order to treat debilitating chronic illnesses.

Wearables – An interactive vest creates a new way of hearing. Thirty-two tiny motors have been installed into this vest. Each motor responds to a different tone frequency and then vibrates, allowing sounds to be perceived through the skin.
Eyeborg – Artist Neil Harbisson’s device changes colours into sounds. Harbisson wears an eyetracker on his forehead. A swivelling arm connects it to a chip that has been surgically inserted into his cranial wall. The chip in Eyeborg permanently transforms colour information into sound signals in order to transfer them to the cranial bones.

Bionic Hand – Bionic hand prostheses such as i limb ultra by Touch Bionics are connected to the brain through existing nerves and transplanted muscle fibres.

DNA/genes – The life cycle can be increased by manipulating genetic material in human cells, such as with CRISPR-Cas9.

Biointegrated sensors (Dexcom Google or Lumee by Profusa) act as glucose monitors (CGM). Biocompatible implants monitor fluorescence, oxygen, glucose, lactate or other biomarkers in the blood.

Microbiome testing and Metabolic tech (Ubiome or Aire) use microbes in the stool or the gas content in the blood to provide information on the condition of the digestive tract.

The supply of smart drugs such as Nootropics regulates the hormone balance, ensuring that hormonal condition can be permanently controlled.

Artificial heart: pacemaker
While you charge your mobile phone at night, you can also charge your pacemaker’s battery.

Microbiome testing: microbes provide information on the condition of the skin flora.


Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)
Merging human and artificial intelligence for augmented intelligence: the businessman and head of Tesla, Elon Musk, recently purchased the neurotechnology company Neuralink. His aim is to develop a BCI suitable for everyday use that allows bidirectional communication between brain and computer. If this succeeds, it will become possible to operate machines using thoughts alone. Information or skills can be immediately downloaded from the internet and fed into the neuronal networks.

Human-Plant Interface
The power of digital computing meets biological material and creates new perspectives during interaction with our natural environments. The Florence Project by artist Helene Steiner (Artist in Residence, Microsoft Research) shows that plants have their own language. A Human-Plant interface can be used to translate electro-chemical signals from plants into a language that people understand, allowing plants to tell us their needs.

Human-Animal Interface
Scientists are currently working on the development of technologies aimed at allowing animals to talk to people. The path towards this is animal-computer interaction. Research is being carried out into how GPS technologies can be used for wireless communication.

Molecular scanner – Connect with your environment
The SCiO molecular scanner or the competing product Tellspec are already being used to analyse the chemical composition of any objects found in our surroundings. The molecular scanner allows us to interact with our environment.

During the 14th European Trend Day, we discussed how we will handle new technologies in future and what this means for the search for happiness.

This is an excerpt from the GDI study ‘Wellness 2030: the new technology of happiness’. 


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