Editor's note: Kelley Styring is consumer strategist at Newberg, Ore., research firm InsightFarm Inc.

In ancient Greece there was the oracle, the visionary, who could see the future. Today, we call people like Steve Jobs a visionary. But since Jobs possessed the means to make his visions come true, did he really see the future? I don’t think so.

As a market researcher, I know that I don’t control the future. Unless I invent a completely new research technique, I don’t actually create anything myself. Market researchers are advisors, nudging and cajoling organizations to act upon our insights. And while motivating actions based on insights has been my life’s work, I’ve often wished that my work felt less like a rearview mirror and more like a crystal ball. The occasions when market research creates actual foresight are so rare that sometimes we don’t even see them until fully immersed in the outcomes.

To take my own shot at glimpsing the future, I created a syndicated study called “One Handed World.” The study was inspired by the rise of the smartphone and the fact that we are all on the go and trying to get more done in less time. Our need for convenience and for products designed to accommodate our smartphone-driven, multitasking lifestyles is greater than ever yet precious little that we interact with each day has been designed to operate with only one hand.

Data gathered from consumers shows that they spend about 40 percent of their waking hours with one hand occupied (carrying groceries, using a cell phone, sipping a coffee, brushing their teeth, etc.) and about half of that time, they're interacting with a wide variety of other products and packages using a single hand or finger. This evolutionary trend means consumer product makers that don’t change their product and packaging designs accordingly could face economic extinction.

My study has found that one-handed convenience creates...