2025: The Future of Thanksgiving

I enjoy Thanksgiving. It marks the official start of the holiday season where work slows down (just a bit), calorie intake goes up (mmm, deviled eggs) and the family gathers for sharing stories, photos, videos and a bit of gossip.

As a child, I’m reminded of spending Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s, where all the family would cram inside the one bedroom apartment and stuff ourselves with ham, Stove Top stuffing, German chocolate cake and canned cranberry sauce. My grandmother only owned one small television, so after dinner, all the kids would go outside and play kickball on the hill while the adults stayed inside and played Atari.

Today, memories are made courtesy of Thanksgiving menus driven by Food Network recipes, Black Friday shopping preparations, Call of Duty and the annual “Basement Nerf Gun War”. This year’s nerf gun battle provided an especially interesting demonstration of global economics (supply and demand of green nerf gun darts was a driving factor), fiefdom and warfare.

Looking back on this year’s holiday celebration, I couldn’t help but think: What does Thanksgiving look like in 10 years?

Family Buffets Will Be Replaced With On Demand Meals

A week before Thanksgiving, the host, via a smart device app, will send out an invitation to friends and families where, via the same app, people will be able to personalize their individual meal. Using 3D printer technology, meals will be generated to specific desires (a tad more salt in the turkey and more pepper in the gravy) and dietary needs (gluten-free, no refined sugar). Meal recipes and suggestions will be shared via a family-specific online social network so people can program their own 3D printers to create grandma’s cranberry sauce in their own home.

Sound crazy? Check this out.

More Travel, Less Driving

In 2015, it was forecasted that nearly 47 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving. 42 million will spend time on the road, dealing with weather, traffic and a family determined to ascertain if they are there yet.

By 2025, the machine learning that drives auto-pilot features in luxury cars such as the Tesla Model S and the Mercedes S Class will have improved to the point where the lines between self-driving autonomy and “driving assistance” will blur, and the need for steering wheels and pedals will be left to those that want to “feel the road” as they drive.

These improvements will be applied to public transportation, where self driving buses will lower the cost of mass transit and usher in an era of affordable, long-distance luxury bus travel, with buses equipped with wifi, power outlets, and even food cafes.

Sound like a fantasy? Tesla’s current autopilot functionality already includes Autosteer, Auto Lane Change and Autopark, China is testing self driving buses, and a company called Leap offered luxury bus amenities to San Francisco commuters (video below).

Aside from road travel, in 2025, new forms of travel will be available. Folks from Los Angeles to San Francisco will be able to travel using the hyperloop.

Shopping

The widespread chaos associated with Black Friday is gone.

By 2025, retailers will leverage machine learning to reward repeat customers and entice new customers. Black Friday shopping experiences begin on a retailer’s website or smartphone application, where shoppers “check-in” (similar to airline check-ins) and pre-pay for the deals they want to take advantage of. Shoppers are provided a voucher with details on when they can come to the store to redeem their purchase voucher.

To encourage further shopping, beacons placed throughout the store will guide shoppers, via the retailer’s smartphone application, to customized deals. The more you have shopped with the retail establishment in the past, the better the Black Friday beacon deals are. If you come by the store on Black Friday, then connect to the store’s free wifi and check in to earn a special Black Friday badge. This once-a-year badges provides rewards throughout the year, giving you access to special products, deals and early-bird access to Black Friday deals next year.

Leveraging technology to improve Black Friday isn’t new. UK department store House of Fraser is using augmented reality to improve Black Friday shopping experiences and Target is currently experimenting with the use of beacons in a small group of it’s stores.

Tradition Still Reigns Supreme

Although the logistics may change, the traditions of Thanksgiving will still be present. Families will continue to gather for a holiday meal tradition that is meant to give thanks for all the blessings found in each other’s lives.

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