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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

Pokemon GoI’ve been talking/writing about the phygital movement for a while now. This is the blending of the physical and digital worlds. Be sure to read my recent article on the topic, “Let’s Get Phygital.”

In the past, we were a physical world. We didn’t carry electronic devices everywhere. When we said we were connected, we were connected to human beings or the earth, not a phone. We played board games with groups of people, not video games in the basement alone.

As technology progressed, we’ve become more and more connected to our digital devices that we’ve become less connected to others and the real world. But human beings crave this physical connection at a deep level; it is ingrained in us.

Therefore it is not surprise that the phygital movement is starting to gain momentum. The pendulum is swinging back from the purely digital and more towards the physical. Virtual reality did not achieve this because it is purely digital. But augmented reality provided some promise.

And that promise has been (partly) achieved with Pokemon Go. People are leaving their houses to participate in a digital game that integrates with the physical world. This is phygital, or at least it is a start…

The premise is that instead of searching for hidden treasures on your computer screen in the confines of your house, you search for them in the real world. These virtual goodies show up on the screen of your phone as you walk through parks, shopping malls, and crowded streets. This is augmented reality. The real world is augmented with the phone screen.

The reason I say this is “partly” phygital is that it is missing a component that I think will become increasing important over time. Not only do we want a connection to the earth, but we want a connection to others.

The problem with Pokemon Go is that no one talks to each other. You could see 1,000 people hunting in a park, but all of them are staring at their phones and never engaging in conversation with others.

Another phenomenon that seems to be emerging in some cities is the “escape room.” These are locked rooms hidden with clues. Find the clues and you find the keys that allow you to go to the next room, and ideally completely escape. The only way you can be successful at these is through collaboration. You have to work with others in order to combine clues to find the solution. This is not digital; this is purely physical. But it shows a new trend towards physical experiences.

When these physical and digital experiences merge, it will become the norm. And as business embrace this emerging reality, they will find new ways of engaging customers to create powerful experiences.

How can you and your business embrace the phygital movement?

P.S. People tell me they don’t like the word “phygital” as it sounds similar to fidgety. Maybe people who become too digital become too fidgety. 🙂

 

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