Howard Saunders   Nov 15, 2021   advertising, city, discount, face recognition, Future, smartphone, technology, Uncategorized   0 Comment

It was over Sunday lunch back in the winter of 2022 that we had the heated family argument over all this. Dad was on one of his ‘hell in a handcart rants’ and was convinced the government wanted complete control over every aspect of our lives and we should resist at every turn. What he failed to see was any of the positive side: the health benefits, the increased security and even our own longevity for that matter. No, he certainly wasn’t right about everything.

Take the ApMan system, for example. Yes, it tracks everywhere I go but it also nudges me to take more exercise or even drink more water. It lets me know when the air is safe and even recommends the safest route for a daytime breather. After ‘consumer traffic’ was banned in cities in 2030, carbon monoxide levels have thankfully plummeted, but levels of ozone and PM (particulate matter) can still be dangerously high, so it’s best to stay indoors, even for an amber warning. No need to take unnecessary risks.

Traffic levels are historically low but there are still plenty of autonomous trucks and cabs running around so the PSS (Pedestrian Signal System) keeps us safe. I seriously cannot imagine how treacherous the roads were back in the day when Dad used to drive around in his own car…and without any guidance control! Terrifying.

When occasionally we do venture out on foot it’s so much safer these days, even if you do get fifty quid knocked off your UBI for cutting the corner at a zebra crossing. You soon learn to stick to the allocated routes and zones.


ApMan is indispensable, frankly. Obviously you need it to get into a bar, store or a gallery, but now that it’s linked to my personal genome it advises me on what’s best to eat, how much, and at what time of day. Following his advice also gives me a serious discount off my health insurance, so it really is a win win. Over indulge on anything and it will vibrate annoyingly for hours so there’s very little drunkenness anymore, at least not for the tracked and healthy. Pubs are more highly regulated than anywhere, so you’d be crazy to flout ApMan’s advice if you want to stay off the trouble maker list.

Restaurants are pretty strict too as they have to follow so much of the latest legislation, so it’s easier just to order from one of the dark kitchens. There’s so much more choice than in the restaurants anyway, and it’s a hell of a lot safer than mixing with everyone, that’s for sure. Every day there’s news of yet another outbreak in a bar or a brasserie that’s then forced to shut down for disinfection. And it often takes months for full Green Clearance.

I remember the local food markets we had around here until they were eventually banned for being the proven source of countless infections and viruses. No one wants to risk their health like that anymore. I think it was the long, hot summer of 2025 that the Hygiene Squad swooped in to close ours down. Quite an exciting day that was!


London is so much cleaner and impressive looking than it was in Dad’s day. All the architecture is tastefully illuminated at night and the roads are so much quieter too, with PSS embedded into the pavements everywhere and distress buttons every few hundred metres or so. The heated underpasses do fill up with the homeless in the evenings, but above ground the city looks better than it’s ever looked, I imagine.


I haven’t used the Tube in years but apparently it’s almost exactly as it was fifty years ago, complete with some of the (now protected) posters and ads for fast food and alcoholic drinks. Some E-friends of mine made a Youtube documentary about it not long ago. London’s Underground really is a piece of subterranean living history, shuttling cleaners and sanitary workers beneath the city right around the clock.

Back at home my children are pretty well balanced, all things considered. Their bi-monthly Social Wellness tests put them in the top 20%, even though they both spend most of the day in the Metaverse. They go to concerts there as well as educational classes and lectures in order to boost their home studies, so it isn’t all e-sports and shoot-em-ups. Sam’s actually got a paid job in there, managing some digital entrepreneur’s identity or something on an Ethereum retainer. It’s all a bit beyond me, to be honest.

So you see, what my father couldn’t understand was that giving up a bit of our independence would in return help make us so much safer, healthier and more financially secure than ever before. Dad might not agree but I believe that’s a price well worth paying.

I promise my next blog will be a tad more upbeat. Meanwhile please follow me on Twitter @retailfuturist for daily insights and wry retail based musings.

About Howard Saunders

The Retail Futurist, otherwise known as Howard Saunders, is a writer and speaker whose job it is to see beyond retail’s currently choppy waters. Howard spent the first twenty five years of his career at some of London’s most renowned retail design agencies, including Fitch & Company, where he created concepts, strategies and identities for dozens of British high street brands. In 2003 he founded trend-hunting agency, Echochamber, inspiring his clients with new and innovative store designs from across the globe. Howard relocated to New York in 2012 where the energetic regeneration of Brooklyn inspired his book, Brooklynization, published in 2017. His newfound role as champion for retail’s future in our town and city centres gave rise to the title The Retail Futurist. Howard has been interviewed on numerous television and radio programs and podcasts for BBC Radio 4, BBC Scotland, the British Retail Consortium, Sky News Australia and TVNZ, New Zealand. His talks are hi-energy, jargon-free journeys that explore the exciting, if not terrifying, retail landscape that lies ahead. When not in retail mode, Howard has recorded, literally, thousands of digital music masterpieces, most of which remain, thankfully, unheard.

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