Last week I caught up with the potential families of the future, and the innovative products they are inspiring, at Stylus’s spring innovation forum. There was quite a lot of food for thought, so here are some of the top insights that got me thinking:

Lifestyles are rapidly changing. There were a whole host of interesting stats about the topic at the start of the morning, such as a rise in flat sharing among the over 40s, a trend towards living apart together and the fact that 47% of Swedes now practice solo living. We were shown an advert of a new product line from furniture giants Ikea, who appear to be taking advantage of these significant shifts. In the piece we follow several ‘nomadic millennials’ through an urban landscape carrying portable/renter-friendly furniture designed to aid the cash strapped, flat sharing demographic.

Unsurprisingly a lot of innovations came from Japan, where we learned that more diapers are sold to adults now than for children. There was the Moomin Cafe, where guests can avoid the loneliness of dinning alone by having a dinner date with a charming Moomin teddybear. Also a disturbing design at the Kyoto University cafeteria called ‘bocchi seki’ or ‘alone seats’. Designed to help students avoid the perils of making conversation with their peers via a divided table. However it does beg the question, are these examples more a reflection of Japanese society than any hints of the future?

Among the guest speakers at the forum was Tom Evans, Founder and CEO of BleepBleeps a ‘family of little friends that make parenting easier’. The characters include the lovingly named David Camera baby monitor, and others that link up to an app offering various user-friendly tech innovations for parents. Attendees were quite taken with the cute little characters, though this was possibly until we met Master Bates, the sperm counter with the analyser located thoughtfully in his mouth. It was interesting to see an example of connected tech that may actually be useful rather than the wifi kettles and the like that have yet to inspire consumers.

Were you there? What did you think of the insights? What do you think the modern family will look like in 10 or 15 years to come?