What the truly tech-enabled Christmas of 2026 might look like

We will all get exactly what we want at Christmas in the tech-enabled world that awaits us a decade from now

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christmas techLONDON, U.K. Dec. 23, 2016/ Troy Media/ – We futurists generally spend our time looking at potential scenarios for big issues such as artificial intelligence and society, the changing role of money, the relationship between man and machine, the future of business, and the nature of tomorrow’s governments. So as a bit of light relief, I asked my team to leap forward 10 years and imagine what the truly tech-enabled Christmas of 2026 might look like.

Christmas cards and advent calendars – Totally personalized, voice and video animated holographic devices enable us to give the recipient a different message each day over the Christmas period.

Choosing gifts – The smartphone of 2016 has long since been replaced by an intelligent assistant (IA) that monitors and manages every aspect of our lives. The IA communicates with the IAs of our friends and family to advise on what we want and need – 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 from over- or under-spending.

Where we want more involvement in the process, a range of apps scan all public data about your mom/colleague/dog walker to get an idea of the products they like/don’t like/have already bought. The app is linked to retailers such as Google, Marks and Spencer, Amazon and UberStores. The app allows you to buy gifts, wrap them and have them delivered without you ever seeing the items you purchased. You can tell stores who you are buying for and if they have access to their IA records, they can tell if you the person already has the item or is expecting one.

Gift delivery – We can now schedule drones to drop gifts to our family around the world at exactly the same moment during our virtual gift exchange. For a small fee, a fleet of robo-Santa drones can deliver gifts to every household in the land on Christmas Eve. Cheap one-time-use virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) Magic Santa glasses allow children to ‘see’ Santa coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

Decorations – Our IA scans things like our online purchases and social media posts, plus consults apps showing what our friends are buying and what’s trending. It then assembles a customized decoration package collated from various retailers to create a truly personalized display in keeping with our tastes. VR/AR Christmas trees allow us to put on spectacular and constantly-changing light shows in our living room and in public places from Trafalgar Square to the White House lawn.

Most popular presents – Facial reconfiguration, changing our skin colour and thickening our hair are among the most popular gift experiences, thanks to the commercialization of genetic modification tools. They have also brought us glow-in-the-dark pets! Your kitten, puppy or panther can at last be genetically modified to glow in your child’s favourite colours. “A glow-in-the-dark pet is not just for Christmas, it’s for life.”

‘Live free’ solutions are increasingly popular – we allow the tech titans to exploit every item of information about us in return for literally everything we buy and use being provided for free. In contrast, for those wanting an off-grid life, personal data management systems are increasingly popular – tightly restricting what data anyone can see about us. With VR/AR headsets in widespread use, another popular gift is a personalized VR/AR experience in which the recipient is a character. These offerings have been extended to be 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. The outputs of these are instantly analyzed by smart interpretation software to see how friends and family really feel about our presents. This could improve present giving in the long run but also fuel traditional arguments: “Auntie’s just being polite again!”

Christmas dinner – Meals will be designed and robo-cooked to the taste preferences and health needs of each individual, e.g. a sugar-free portion of the Christmas pudding for diabetic dad. The meal now 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 allow us to appear at their dining table and vice versa. Digital sensory capture and stimulation via our IAs means we can taste and smell the food they’re eating.

Entertainment – We 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 who still watch a film, ‘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.

The traditional Dec. 26 holiday sales – While we’ve been eating lab-grown turkey and taking part in VR/AR experiences, our IA has been searching out sales offers based on our preferences and creating a set of options that it will talk us through. Armed with our decisions, it will schedule purchases for early Dec. 26 implementation and join the virtual queues for those products with limited supply or early-bird pricing.

Blended experiences – Massive empty spaces like abandoned warehouses and shopping malls are regularly turned into pop-up indoor VR/AR winter wonderlands for those without snow during the holidays. We can experience a VR/AR skiing space, VR/AR snowball fights, snowman building and a range of cold-weather contests, all without getting cold or wet (unless we want to). These are usually entirely community run, with individual donors and corporate sponsorship raising money for charities.

Total connection – Some techno-enthusiasts hope 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.

And that makes a future Christmas sound just about perfect.

Rohit Talwar is the CEO of [popup url=”http://www.fastfuture.com/” height=”1000″ width=”1200″ scrollbars=”1″]Fast Future Research[/popup], a global research and consulting company that specializes in identifying future growth industries and helps governments and global companies to explore and respond to the sectors, ideas, trends and forces shaping the next five to 20 years.

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