A weak signal is an indicator to identify a change in the future with little or no impact on the present, but with the potential to lead to the identification of major impact events. They set trends and indicate certain directions and by that draw up future scenarios. A weak signal can be defined as a trend before the trend itself becomes a relevant source of future research.
As these signals are ‘weak’ by nature, the task of detecting them involves in many cases both addressing surrounding issues and exploring the boundaries between conventional society and the future of technologies. Weak signals are always more visible in retrospect, which is why it is important to detect them when they are still “weak” and before they have become a rule. When they are recognized in time they can be used as a design tool to initiate discussion and speculative thinking about the future.