Visions from the future

Concept T explores the future of communications and connectivity.

What will personal communication look like in the future? This is the question Deutsche Telekom, a German telecommunications company, asked during a design study on the influence of AI on communication. Named ‘Concept T’, the company’s vision for the future of communications, created in collaboration with Design Indaba alum Benjamin Hubert’s British strategic design agency Layer, was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress 2024 in Barcelona. 

The Concept T project consists of three design studies: ‘Concept View’, which positions the personal assistant as the ‘communicative control centre of tomorrow’; ‘Concept Level’, a modular Wi-Fi system; and ‘Concept Buddy’, a friendly robot butler.

Concept View is a home hub with a 3D holographic AI-equipped virtual assistant called ‘Emma’ that looks somewhat like a crystal ball with a transparent glass orb that projects a 3D holographic avatar. As explained by Deutsche Telekom: ‘Emma can become a central element in the household, for example, as a helpful shopping assistant that shows desired products as holograms in 3D for inspection. And, if desired, also suggests the right shoes to go with the new trousers. Or as a curator who helps you choose the right films, books or songs. Or as a concierge who knows the personal diet plan, shows only suitable recipes and filters the internet for good deals on the next purchase. There are no limits to the imagination.’

Concept Level reimagines the Wi-Fi router as a modular design feature with re-configurable features. The set includes a display unit, a Wi-Fi sensing element, a mesh repeater, and computational module for Web3 use cases – each one designed to look like geometric shapes to resemble mini sculptures rather than an actual router.

The third product, Concept Buddy, is a friendly-looking robot assistant. It offers all the functions of ‘Concept Level’ and is mobile. With its wheels, it can move around the home and measure the air quality in the rooms, for example, or strengthen Wi-Fi. Concept Buddy also serves as a watering assistant, with a built-in projector that shows the image of a rain cloud above houseplants to remind you they need watering.

‘Concept T is researching how hologram telephony, among other things, could become a reality. It is our idea of an advanced router. Not on the shelves tomorrow, but in our heads and laboratories today,’ explains Claudia Nemat, member of the Board of Management for Technology and Innovation at Deutsche Telekom. ‘The study takes our human-centred understanding of technology a step further: I operate Concept T with a natural voice and gestures. All this will also be made possible by clever AI.’

As it currently stands, Layer has made a fully functional prototype of Concept View and semi-functional prototypes of Level and Buddy.

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