Prediction #9 – We will see new models of long-distance “connection” and interactions that will last longer than Covid.

As we have been under restrictions for such a long time, people have started getting used to connecting and chatting from far away. Pre-covid, people would primarily use the phone, email, and social media to bridge times when they connect in person.   

Now meeting in person is more difficult and more stressful when it happens. Poker games, board nights, networking events – all of them feel different in a Covid era.

As a result, there will be a lot of new products in the social connection space – some from trying to help individuals socially connected and some from businesses keeping their remote workforces emotionally connected.

For example, with continuing restrictions on large group gatherings, we may start seeing new forms of remote birthday parties and other celebrations. With a remote birthday party, friends from across the world can participate in a video-birthday or service like Tribute.co where friends can share happy memories remotely instead of meeting in person. This may be more useful for post-college graduates where more and more friends are geographically dispersed. For younger kids, expect some type of class-setting (like lego building) where kids are sent supplies ahead of time and all complete the same project together remotely.

We’ll also see new remote-forms of board game night and interactive games. Remote-based poker, for example, is skyrocketing.

On top of this, in-person experience companies (like in-person entertainment) are pivoting to the online space – ushering in new innovative techniques that might survive the pandemic era. Magicians, plays, and high-end circuses, for example, are now hosting online video-based shows. A lot of in-person escape rooms have pivoted to online-based remote escape rooms, creating innovative collaborative puzzles that can be solved by teams remotely. While the vast majority of these in-person experiences will revert to in-person, expect a few innovations to last past covid and new remote-only services to emerge – especially as businesses try to find new ways to keep their remote workforces connected.

One interesting innovation will be the influx of atom+bit innovations where companies will send boxes of items to use in a remote setting. Some wineries are offering remote wine & cheese pairings where tasting boxes are sent remotely so they can do the pairing remotely via video. And in terms of entertainment, one magician is already sending boxes to people that they will use in their remote performance. This combination of atom+bit will likely continue.

These innovations will not usurp in-person activities. When the pandemic ends, we’ll see a return to in-person games and partying. But expect some shift to remote as they start to allow things you could not have before (like playing party games with friends across the country) or celebrating with people too far to meet up in person.

Opportunities

  • New apps that combine video with interactive games (think online versions of Codenames, Pictionary, Catan, etc. that interact with video)
  • Transformation of in-person experiences to be hybrid. Think of wineries offering new wine/cheese tastings, 
  • An online immersive video-chat version of an escape room. Teams join together for video-chat and explore a virtual environment together to solve collaborative puzzles together to escape. (Think of a more intense collaborative and condensed version of Myst). While the environment may be virtual, the room may include one or more live human actors at different intervals to add to the experience (and make people feel like it is worth the money). Escape rooms like The Truth About Edith are already doing an early version of this.
  • Online concerts and sports with a second-screen video where you can watch with your friends. 
  • The remote version of a Chuck-E-Cheese experience. Imagine an “arcade-based-birthday” where kids can use an app to play an assortment of arcade-based collaborative games with each other and get “points” to be used on novelty items (that might be sent to them).  
  • Zoom-based live Karaoke – but perhaps TikTok captures most of this.
  • Remote birthday party based companies – offering zoom-based birthdays with the main event (like a magician).
  • “Collaborative” movie viewings – watch a newly released movie with your friends remotely – seeing both the movie screen and your friends’ reactions.

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com

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