Fast forward ten years – what will Christmas look like in the year 2026? How will technology change our experiences of the festive season?
Global futurists Rohit Talwar and April Koury from Fast Future Publishing suggest how the festive season might be technologically different ten years from now:
Christmas Cards and Advent Calendars
Totally personalised, voice and video animated holographic devices will enable us to give the recipient a different message each day over the Christmas period.
The smartphone has been replaced by an intelligent assistant (IA) that monitors and manages our lives. This communicates with the IAs of our friends and family – ensuring that two people don’t buy us the same presents and that we always get the right size and colour. The IAs also agree on the amount we will spend on each other to avoid potential embarrassment.
We can now schedule drones to drop gifts to our family around the world at exactly the same moment in time during our virtual gift exchange. For a small fee, a fleet of ‘Robo-Santa’ drones can now deliver gifts to every household on Christmas Eve. Cheap one-time-use Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality (VR/AR) ‘Magic Santa’ glasses will allow children to ‘see’ Santa coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve.
Our Intelligent Assistant scans our online purchases, social media posts, and apps showing what our friends are buying and what’s trending. It then assembles a customised decoration package to create a truly personalised display. VR/AR Christmas trees allow us to put on spectacular and constantly changing light shows in our living room and in public places.
Most Popular Presents
Facial reconfiguration, changing our skin colour and thickening our hair are among the most popular gifts thanks to the commercialisation of genetic modification tools based on techniques such as CRISPR–Cas9. Even our kitten or puppy can be genetically modified to glow in our child’s favourite colours!
‘Live free’ solutions are becoming popular; we voluntarily allow the tech titans to exploit every item of information about us in return for everything we buy and use being provided for free. In contrast, for those wanting an ‘off-grid’ life, personal data management systems are popular – tightly restricting what data anyone can see about us.
Another popular gift is a personalised VR/AR experience in which the recipient is a character. These can include whole family VR/AR games and experiences to replace the traditional film – sharing these adventures live with friends and family around the world.
Least Popular Present
Our IAs are equipped with high sensitivity cameras, and sensors that do brain scanning and temperature measurement. This is analysed by smart interpretation software to see how friends and family really feel about our presents. This could improve present giving but also fuel a few arguments.
Meals will be designed and Robo-cooked to the taste preferences and health needs of each individual. The meal includes vegetarian friendly laboratory grown turkey, vegetables from vertical farms and Yorkshire puddings individually 3D printed to each person’s colour, texture, shape and depth preferences.
For those who can’t be with their families on Christmas Day, touchable holograms now allow us to appear at their dining table. Digital sensory capture and stimulation via our IAs means we can taste and smell the food they are eating.
We now have the choice of the Queen delivering her Christmas Day speech, Beyoncé, the Boston philharmonic, or the Vienna boys’ choir live in our living room via VR/AR or holography.
For those watching films, ‘deep experience TV’ means we can choose to see our faces super-imposed over those of the original actors’ and experience every physical sensation alongside James Bond.
Our IA has been searching out sales offers based on our preferences, and creating a set of options. Armed with our decisions, it will then schedule purchases for early Boxing Day implementation and join the virtual queues for those products with limited supply or early-bird pricing deals.
Empty warehouses and shopping malls are regularly re-purposed into pop-up indoor VR/AR winter wonderlands; we can now experience a VR/AR skiing, snowball fights, snowman building, and a range of cold weather contests, all without getting cold or wet (unless we want to). These are usually community run and raise money for charities.
Some techno-enthusiasts are hoping that by 2026 we’ll all be connected directly to the Internet so we can share our thoughts, love and positive words of encouragement effortlessly with others across the globe.
Rohit Talwar and April Koury are from Fast Future Publishing, which publishes books from future thinkers around the world to explore developments in AI and robotics. See: www.fastfuturepublishing.com