The intersection of technology and wellness is an exciting place to be right now. From consumer genomics to wearables to AI and robotics, the lines between what is “real” and what is digital are increasingly unclear.
This month, skincare brand SK-II introduced its new brand ambassador, a digital avatar named YUMI, who will interact with SK-II customers and offer skincare advice. The attempt to create a digital human influencer isn’t new. YUMI follows in the footsteps of faux humans Lil Miquela and Shudu, who already boast mass Instagram followings. But as a skincare consultant without…well…skin, YUMI represents a fascinating bridge between real and virtual worlds. Will we soon see more avatars, moving from skincare into wellness, guiding us on how to care for our bodies when they, themselves, have none?
It seems inevitable. We also see some of this Real World/VR crossover with the opening of Esqapes, a VR massage center set to open in Los Angeles this summer, where guests will receive automated massages while immersed in virtual environments.
While all of this is exciting, when it comes to the amount of time we spend immersed in technology while hooked to our devices, we can always take a more critical look. The impact of this immersion on our mental health and wellbeing is one of the chief concerns of Jeremy McCarthy, Group Director of Spa & Wellness for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. In 2016, with his direction, Mandarin Oriental launched its Digital Wellness Initiative, a program designed to help guests nd new ways to manage their relationship with technology.
Mr. McCarthy, who is in our cover Spotlight this issue, told us, “Technology will have the largest impact on human wellbeing, positive and negative, for the foreseeable future. Anyone who is working on wellbeing should be thinking about the role of technology.”
I couldn’t agree more. It’s amazing, and maybe a little but terrifying – and this is clearly only the beginning.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Roger Sholanki, CEO