Phygital World


When physical experience meets digital and becomes phygital… Welcome to the phygital world!

Yiğit Kulabaş, PhD* 


I don’t know whether you’ve realized it or not but Twitter had this innovative project for its users during EURO2016. Eiffel Tower was dressed in the colors of different countries depending on which one is it most tweeted about. In other words, the digital command reshapes the physical world. Physical meets digital and becomes phygital.

Digital transformation is something we’ve been talking about for 20 years now. The all purpose was to redesign the traditional business models under the light of the Internet and its innovative tools. Today digital world is much more powerful and broader. The power shift towards digital world and experience is obvious and inevitable. Whilst the initial aim was to adapt and simplify our chores with digital tools, today the common attributes of digital world blends in with our physical world. As a result, the term phygital becomes more and more popular every day. What do we mean by phygital though? When a physical experience is reshaped by digital world and transforms itself, we start to talk about phygital experience. Let’s have a look at 10 triggers of phygital world.

1- #NewRemote: If you consider that Eiffel Tower changes its color according to tweets, it is not absurd to say that smart phones are the new remote controls of our lives. And this is only the beginning. We only talk about the impact on projects and campaigns, but it the near future the lightning, colors, visuals, odors, sounds, music in our houses and environment will automatically change according to what happens in our digital worlds.

2- #PhysicalLike: It is actually quite tough for someone to like and appreciate something, to express his likes and other feelings in the common, linear, physical world. Yet, when we have to express ourselves on digital platforms we are unexpectedly generous. Today’s most important values ❤  and like button soon will be in our physical lives. We will be able to like the reality without visualizing it.

3- #PhygitalObjects: Machines talk and it is not a new thing. In the near future everything – yes everything- will be able to talk with us: plants, nappies, bikes, ovens, rings, notebooks, slippers, mugs, pants, hairpins, whatever you can think of. Physical bodies will be reshaped by digital and become phygital. While some stuff will be designed considering only phygital attributes, some will be transformed and adapted to phygital era. There are already countless projects about phygitalisation. It is expected that there will be over 50 billion objects that are able to connect to the Internet by 2020.

4- #AugmentedReality: We live in era of information and knowledge. The more we digitize our world, the more we desire new information. For example, we get curious about someone’s age we see on television or nutritional info of what we eat. We track our steps to see how far we walk or use applications to find a shortcut to get back home earlier and google the history of a building we see on our way back home. Augmented reality is one of the most trending topics in our lives.

5- #ScreensEverywhere: Every technological device has a screen even it is not a big one. And as you can guess screens bring digitalization with them. In the near future we will have more screens, bigger screens. Even the bus stop wait for our bus every day, tables, wardrobes, walls, signs will have screens on them. The more screens we have in our lives, the more we will be phygitalized.

6- #SuperPerception: It is not even a job for our brain to evaluate and transform visuals into information. Even though digital world is not there yet, all the key players are working on facial and image recognition in full flow. A whole lot more interactive future awaits us!

7- #DistantEye: Imagine, you are in your office, in front of your screen and started mining in Afghanistan. No, we are not talking about a simulation game. You really exploit a mine that you own in another country, where all your mining tools are. When 5G technology meets 4K, virtual becomes reality and faraway lands become nearby places.

8- #Industry4.0: Industry 4.0 can be described as phigatilastion of production. When objects meet with the Internet, big data, augmented reality and robots, factories, production lines and shelves start to communicate with products.

9- #PhygitalMoney: There is a big change in the form and meaning of money. We are already used to spend money without even seeing or touching the money itself thanks to credit cards. Yet, this is not the end of the transformation of money. There will be new systems, new currencies. Bitcoin is a perfect example for phygitalization of money. Points, bitcoins and much more will be in our lives soon.

10- #ThirdDimension: 3D Printers and scanners also open the doors of a new world and function as a border between physical and digital. It is now very easy and fast to change dimensions while travelling between physical and digital worlds.



*Yiğit Kulabaş is a businessman, academician and author. He is the CEO and founding partner of RE/Design Business. This article of him is translated from Capital. It was published in September 2016.

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