Phygital, whether you like it or not
By Daniel Potes
“Phygital is the concept of using technology to bridge the digital world with the physical world with the purpose of providing a unique interactive experience for the user.” – Monash Business School
As you probably noticed, one of the most used words in Experiential and Immersive Marketing in 2022 was the term “Phygital”. A term that instantly polarizes those who hear it, and a word that honestly sounds dumb. “Phygital” might be one of the most hated current words in the industry, with most folks I speak to reacting with immediate revulsion. There’s just something about it, like the word “moist” that rubs people the wrong way. The Concept behind it, however, is currently incredibly important to understand and implement successfully.
Future Colossal is first and foremost an Innovation Agency, and secondly an Experiential/Immersive Agency. This means we make it our primary goal to utilize the most cutting-edge technology and techniques available to better immerse users of our products, activations and experiences. We’ve been doing “Phygital” since day one, since 2012 we’ve been integrating mixed reality technology into physical activations, pop-ups, and client experiences, we just never called it “Phygital”. It might be a weird and gross sounding word, but it truly does the best job of describing the way Future Colossal functions.
We integrate physical interactions into screen-based experiences, give virtual reality narratives physical props, and allow audiences to engage virtually with physical installations. Embracing “Phygital” doesn’t have to mean embracing the word, it can mean creating experiences that combine both physical elements and digital devices in a way that provides unique value to the customer or user experience. Dr. Widad Batat said it best in his Article from June of 2021 (ages ago in terms of industry growth) “phygital as a holistic approach can be used in communication, marketing, branding, advertising, product innovation, pricing, etc., to provide customers with both emotional and functional values”. By viewing “Phygital” as a technique to provide more and better immersion to users, we can break down what it really means to create a “phygital” experience.
As an example, for “CAMP x Disney's Mickey and Friends: An Extra Big Adventure” we integrated interactions that combined projection mapped characters with physical props and engagement points to give the illusion that what the kids are seeing happen on the screens is really happening in front of them. Almost like magic, we use a combination of digital and physical content and interactions to provide a semblance of reality. When the projection of Mickey mouse throws a chip for the kids to collect and the chip seemingly falls out of the sky, that moment of magic has POWER. It serves to provide a level of immersion previously had only been dreamed about.
Proper “Phygital” experiences are made possible by comprehensive networked technology solutions, whether that’s IOT sensors communicating wirelessly to Unity, providing digital reactions to physical acts, or designing an immersive soundscape to help make users believe that they really are in a jungle when they’re in fact surrounded by projection screens, these integrated experiences are what produces something that can be termed as “Phygital”. With enough of these individual “Phygital” interactions, immersion happens, and we all know, TRUE immersion has always been our goal, and the best strategy for the best possible user experience!