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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From an indoor worm box that composts organic waste to a high-tech pillow that is designed to help you fall asleep quicker, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

Speedy Sleep Pillow – China

Xiaomi has unveiled a high-tech pillow which it calls ‘a pillow for falling asleep fast’ on its official platform Xiaomi Youpin. There are miniaturised sensors in 56 pieces that capture the signals of human brainwaves in the device. The signals will be transmitted to the embedded chip, which is exclusively equipped with six intelligent modules and eight AI algorithms. The algorithm analysis is able to identify and analyse the user’s sleep state and provide corresponding solutions. The ultra-precise pressure sensors enable the pillow to dynamically adjust the height, volume and hardness in accordance with the peculiarities of the anatomy of a particular person. In addition, the bone conduction sound module provides a private wake-up service. Like most of Xiaomi’s smart home products, users can control the pillow functions and track sleep statistics through the Mijia app.

With more attention being paid to the length and quality of sleep as people realise its impact on their overall wellbeing, Chinese consumers are turning to sleep-aid solutions to help them get a good night’s sleep. Consumers’ elevated expectations of their bedding in terms of comfort and functionality have pushed brands in the direction of exploring novel technology and products. Xiaomi’s smart pillow is likely to appeal to consumers who seek tech-based solutions when constructing a cosy sleep environment. Not limited to simply inducing sleep, it also caters to consumers’ desire to track and monitor the quality of sleep. The ecosystem of Xiaomi could help consumers move from just the standalone device and make broader lifestyle changes.

– Elysha Young – Trends Manager, APAC

Indoor Wormbox for Compost – Austria

Wurmkiste has designed an indoor worm box that composts organic waste. Wurmkiste has created a minimalist, wooden, sustainably produced worm box for indoor use that is designed to hold organic waste and provide a home to worms. The box promotes vermicompost, a product of decomposition by worms, and can then be used to supplement the soil of houseplants. The worm box is also promoted for families as the worms can provide pets for children as well as a learning experience.

Many consumers don’t live with gardens, so ways to incorporate nature indoors are vital to mental and physical wellbeing. As well as this, activities that decrease screen time are becoming more popular as the closure of social spaces has eliminated options for other outdoor activities. While families spend more time together, parents are seeking creative ways to interact, educate and play with their children. Consumers are also environmentally conscious and are seeking ways to combat climate change in their daily lives.

– Tali Ramsey – Trends Analyst, EMEA

A Hotel Lab – US

Kayak, a travel search engine, launched its first hotel in Miami Beach. The hotel also features a brick-and-mortar restaurant from OpenTable. The new hotel called Kayak Miami Beach is meant to be a design lab where the search engine can test new technology and hospitality features. Kayak is partnering with Life House, a hotel brand and management company. The goal of the hotel is to better understand the connection between hotel guests and the latest hospitality technology. The back-end software being developed is specifically aiming to benefit independent hotels that lack the resources of major hotel chains. Technology will be at the forefront of the hotel experience with contactless check-in and Kayak app-integrated itinerary features. The OpenTable-operated restaurant called Layla will also feature the latest technology from the reservation site.

The hospitality industry is starting to prepare for a post-pandemic landscape and technology is at the forefront of that innovation. It’s important to remember that technology usage across industries only works when it becomes a habit and seamlessly replaces a previously acknowledged way of doing something (such as kiosk check-in versus in-person check-in). The best way to develop technology is to observe it in real-time, and as a result, learn in real-time. This hotel lab is bridging the back-end software experience with the front-end consumer experience, and that’s going to be a critical connection to understand as technology/automation becomes the basis for a wide range of industries.

– Diana Kelter – Senior Trends Analyst, US

Animal Crossing Fashion Week – Brazil

Brazilian womenswear brand Amaro is employing the help of Animal Crossing: New Horizons users to create a new clothing line – the Amaro Cross Collection. Outfits devised by players in the game will be used as inspiration for the real-life pieces. Animal Crossing has become the most discussed game on Twitter in Brazil, and thus using the platform was a no-brainer for the fashion label. Amaro is known for proposing fashion-technological launches, highlighting the brand’s close attention to the importance of the gaming world.

With the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are forced to stay at home and find new ways to spend their free time. With this partnership, Amaro gives fashion lovers the opportunity to unleash their creativity by coming up with in-game looks for their characters that might be used as inspiration for the brand’s new real-life collection. By encouraging people to engage with the brand, Amaro is also provided with the opportunity to create new connections with its digital consumer base.

– Mariana Marins – Trends Analyst, Latin America

A Durian for Your Cut – Singapore

Scientists have developed a method of using discarded durian husks to create cheap, eco-friendly, antibacterial hydrogel bandages. Hydrogel bandages are typically applied directly to post-surgical wounds, helping to reduce scarring by keeping the wound site hydrated during the early stages of the healing process. The hydrogels themselves are usually made of synthetic polymers, with silver or copper ions added to kill harmful bacteria. Polymers aren’t typically biodegradable and are made from non-renewable resources. The inclusion of metal ions also drives up the cost. The durian-derived bandages are made by extracting high-quality cellulose from some of the leftover husks, then combining with glycerol left over from the production of soap and biodiesel, and natural yeast phenols, resulting in a soft germ-killing gel similar in texture to silicone, that can be cut into sheets.

Durian is an extremely popular fruit in many Southeast Asian countries, and Singapore is no exception. The use of waste products that are currently discarded in large quantities as a valuable biomedical resource is a great example of looking at what we currently dispose of and thinking more carefully about potential alternative uses. Advances in science and technology mean that we can do a lot more with waste products now than we could previously, and this creates an opportunity to consider what else we currently look at as useless waste or by-product and think about different kinds of value we can extract. It’s also a narrative that is increasingly appealing to consumers as they become more concerned about the amount of waste we generate and look for ways to make a difference in their own consumption.

– Elysha Young – Trends Manager, APAC