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Me & The Machine: Enter A New Reality In Our Unreal Times
[December 12, 2019]

Me & The Machine: Enter A New Reality In Our Unreal Times

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- 4G heralded the beginning of the golden, mobile age of content—watching peak content on our phones, sharing videos on social media, and only being a click away from an affirmative, instantaneous "like." Yet in the middle of a 4G loneliness epidemic—where one out of two Americans identifies as "lonely"*—are consumers optimistic or anxious about a 5G future?

A breakthrough industry report by The National Research Group, Me & The Machine: Enter A New Reality in Our Unreal Times, takes a consumer pulse check on concepts the tech titans are heavily investing in for the '20's, from smart glasses to 3D maps of the world and persistent holograms. Produced with Verizon and RLab as consulted partners, the study captures that consumers want to transcend the "lonely" reality of our 4G society to a more hopeful, socially connected world where learning and self-discovery take center stage.

As machines continue to get smarter, consumers resist a life on automatic. The top experience consumers find most sticky is interactive learning/skill developmentlearning by "doing" rather than "seeing." Further, consumers await more multidimensional communication and collaboration solutions beyond send and receive. In fact, all five of the most useful 5G experiences improve these areas of our lives, from removing language barriers to new hands-free screens-on-the-go, enabling real-time collaboration anywhere, anytime.

"Consumers are ready for immersive experiences that can transcend the ills of the Internet age and let them create their own reality—one in which personal growth and discovery trump consumption," says Jon Penn, CEO, National Research Group.

"5G will enable an entirely new era of consumer experiences, taking advantage of the super high speed, enormous capacity and ultra low latency of our 5G Ultra Wideband network. This study, and our early use cases, confirm consumers' excitement and appetite for a future unlike anything today," says Frank Boulben, SVP Marketing and Products, Verizon Consumer Goup.

Consumer heat check: optimistic, ripe or anxious future experiences?


  • Looking to the future, more than half (61%) of consumers think immersive technology will make a positive impact on society, led by 7 in 10 teens and users of AR/VR (69%).

  • Out of an expansive set of over twenty current and next-generation immersive experiences tested across Content, Commerce and Connected Community, our research presents a positive outlook for learning and training experiences.

    • Our study reveals the number one most sticky (both exciting and useful) consumer experience is interactive learning/skill developmentlearning through "doing" rather than "seeing."

  • The number one most exciting experience for consumers is the potential to travel anywhere in the world in 360 and having instantly translated conversations across any language is perceived as most useful.

    • Both are a magnitude of more than 3x more desired than the average demand for each experience.

  • The top five experiences consumers find most useful deepen our ability to communicate and collaborate without limits: remove language barriers; interactive learning/skill development; virtual assistant; "shazam for everything"; hands-free screens-on-the-go.


  • Consumers are ripe for self-discovery and growth through technology. For 4 in 5 consumers, the top benefits of immersive tech ("very" or "somewhat" important) enable personal growth, learning and discovery: teaches me something new; provides access to a broader range of experiences; stimulates my mind or makes me think; gives me a sense of adventure and discovery.

  • 5G can address many of the holdbacks consumers address about immersive technology, across Product, Accessibility and Content, opening up new possibilities for affordable, lightweight, high-performance solutions.
    • The top driver for AR/VR usage is more affordable products: hardware such as low-cost headsets (46%) and software such as free apps (44%).


  • Creators must support self-discovery and growth without impeding on consumer privacy, boundaries and relationships. Beyond designing more affordable solutions, creators must overcome broader societal concerns: recording my data without my permission (40%), keeping me from having privacy (35%), feeling like my technology is "watching me" (33%), featuring too much advertising/sponsored content (30%).

  • Consumers are least excited about use cases that layer content on top of the world around them, with the weakest rankings for interactive out-of-home advertising, AR messaging and tagging and 3D wayfinding.

Additional report imagery is available upon request.

*Cigna study on the Impact of Loneliness in the U.S. and Potential Root Causes, March 2018.

Methodology Produced with Verizon as a consulting partner, in August 2019, NRG conducted in-depth expert interviews with over twenty industry luminaries, consumer immersions at RLab, Brooklyn, New York, and ArtCenter, Pasadena, CA, and a quantitative survey among 1500 consumers in the US ages 13-54.

About National Research Group National Research Group is a leading global insights and strategy firm at the intersection of entertainment and technology. Rooted in four decades of industry expertise, the world's leading marketers turn to us for insights into growth and strategy for any content, anywhere, on any device. Working at the confluence of content, culture and technology, NRG offers bold insights for storytellers everywhere.

Contact: Finn Partners for NRG:


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SOURCE National Research Group

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