Exploring Future Trends in Design, Ecology and Urbanization at the Go Further with Ford Trend Conference 2012

Several weeks ago I was invited to attend Ford’s annual trend conference; a unique opportunity to explore  the trends shaping how we live our lives, now and in the future. We attended sessions on Eco-Psychology, Urbanization and Design; each led by celebrities, experts and thought leaders in societal trends. I had a great time. It’s not often you get an opportunity to probe each of these topics with leaders in their respective industries. How does social pressure effect how we conserve energy, purchase products or even whether or not we recycle? How will cities grow and evolve? What transportation choices will we make in the future? I, for one, found the whole conference not only intellectually stimulating, but also pretty darn cool.

Each session featured a unique blend of everyone from CEOs to start-up developers. We hobnobbed with celebrities: Adrian Grenier and Project Runway winner Christian Siriano. Rubbed elbows with design pioneers like; Adam Kalkin and Herman Miller’s Gretchen Gscheidle  and technology experts like, Microsoft’s John Hendricks.

Each provided their own viewpoints, generating lively conversations and leaving us all with a new perspective on how design, ecology and urban trends will shape the future.

One session  I particularly enjoyed was the Urbanization session led by Carol Coletta, named one of the world’s 50 most important urban experts. It was one of the last session of the day and I have to admit, I was exhausted. But I was absolutely enthralled by the panel and with Ms. Coletta’s talk. Did you realize 42 percent 25- to 34-year-olds are more likely to move to cities?  With so many people moving to one place– how will we stay connected? Today, having a smart phone is a luxury, in the future they may become of vital importance. We also explored how people in cities now are combining resources to maintain the lifestyle they want and need. One good example, Zipcars. Director of Business Development at Zipcar, Gretchen Effgen spoke about the need to work together: companies, vendors, even consumers to reduce the need for transportation by utilizing ‘share’ programs.

We were given and inside look into the Ford design process and even learned about a few automotive trends we’ll see in the near future. Like the SYNC Cloud Translator, which will allow drivers to translate conversations from one language to another, all while driving. We also saw the latest experimental research into Biometric seats, which showed us how cars will monitor the driver’s health in the future, all via your car seat.  Sensors in the steering wheel  and seat belts collect information and identify stress on the driver. It can keep tabs on heart rate, temperature, and even breathing!

After the conference, a special treat, a chance to try drive some of Ford’s vehicles on the Ford Proving Grounds! I was able to test Ford’s new electric vehicle, the Focus Electric. I was surprised how quiet it was. When I started it up, I wasn’t even sure the car was running!

We also drove the 2012 Ford Mustang, tested out the new Park Assist in the 2013 Ford Escape and took a thrilling (and very bouncy) ride in the workhorse the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.

Overall, it was an awesome trip. It was amazing to be able to discuss future trends with some of today’s thought leaders in design, urbanization and ecology. And I want to thank Ford for this extraordinary opportunity. I hope to be back next year!

Disclosure: While Ford did cover the cost of transportation and accommodations during our trip, the thoughts expressed in this post are entirely my own.



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