Next Industrial Revolution – Fusion of Physical and Digital Worlds


This guest column is authored by Neha Modgil, Chief UX Strategist and the owner of TECHVED Consulting

Rocketing use of digital products, shifting modes of interaction and interconnectivity of mobile phones has given us a heads up on how the future is going to be like! As disparaging as it seems, the way our mobile devices will work like a remote control and the contextual integration is going to be bang on! This is another revolution that the industry has begun to witness.

The old industrial revolution brought about advancements in manufacturing and production. It changed population distribution, labour patterns and wealth which eventually changed the lifestyle of people living in the cities. Migrating population from rural areas to cities led to compounded environmental degradation, traffic issues and crimes. In the vogue of changing lifestyle due to industrial revolution, people became more oriented about finding new ways to cope with the changes which brought a drastic change in the society.

Owing to these changes, today everyone has seemingly acquainted themselves with the way things are evolving digitally. Every other brand and company or individual wants to relate to digital world and be perceived as giants in the domain. Now, being digital just feels normal. Yet, most innovative interfaces when combined with powerful technologies can lead to creating experience that will eventually be physical.

Today, our bodily senses are the OS through which we hold the capacity to decode the virtual reality that surrounds us. Things like Virtual Reality use our senses to create something that is unrealistically real. Tomorrow, these features will be enhanced to such an extent that they will be hidden in our offices we sit in, homes we stay, vehicles we drive and the cities in which we live. Digital is on the verge of becoming that invisible entity that will churn our lives and lead to creating a physical experience that will involve our emotions, feelings and actions to a large extent.

How will the fusion of digital and physical world lead to a new revolution?

This will happen through products that are technology driven. Thanks to IoT, we are developing a new way to make products that are intelligent and will eventually beat human beings. Here are few things that will drive this digital revolution.

Screened Surfaces

In future, the homes that we dwell in and offices will have ceilings, floors and walls that will help building smart communication. Designs will be led digitally and will hold importance as they will be interconnected with the way we communicate. This will put an end to the movie screens like now, as every possible surface would possibly function as a full-fledged digital screen.

Inbuilt Sensors

Undoubtedly, in future we will all carry devices like we carry our mobile phones with us now. But, it would never be as huge as the ones right now. Sensors will be the new devices and it will fuse with our senses and gestures. Activating voice commands, capturing videos with bare hands and fine scanning using our vision will all seem normal. In fact, our bodies will act like a remote control that could manipulate the surroundings that we live in.

Sensible Interactions

Virtual Reality in its latent stage is already demanding usage of all our senses to create a better interface. Right now, we have learnt to respond to digital stimulus and these connected devices like wearables track our sleep habits, blood pressure and many other bodily features.

In future, products with well-integrated user interfaces will be built and active interactions will happen only when the user needs them. User Experience of the products will reach far beyond than the way we imagine it to be and evolve to human emotional experiences- experiences that will be termed as new dogma for every designed interface!

Smarter Cities and the Citizens

Today, our vision is only limited to making the devices in our hands smart and intuitive. Tomorrow, we will be part of a larger reality where the environment surrounding us will be digital. We will make friends with humans but in a digitally enticed world and that too virtually. Human touch will be lost and taken over by robotic touch. Smarter cities will let its citizens interact with it and in return will pave ways for smarter living.

Blue printed world

Just like the invention of printer helped the world in learning and spreading knowledge, it will help in bringing another industrial revolution. 3D printers will be able to customise everything from cars to files and everything will be available in plenty. With so many customised digital products flying around, we will have access to every possible thing. We will be able to see everything in blue prints, make amends in a jiffy and process things faster, thereby making living conditions all the way stupendous (or so we think!).

Fusion of physical and digital world

All these things will together work in making interactions seamless, tangible and concrete. Brands will concentrate on digital interactions to grant physical comfort and experience. New jobs will emerge and people will design inputs and outputs to wearables, industry will no longer focus on making advertisements or apps and websites, but they will contribute towards making smarter cities. IoT will find its way in making the interconnectivity of tools, things and people more crisp and scintillating. There won’t be any demarcation or distinction in physical and digital world. The word ‘digital’ won’t be referred separately or given special importance because we will be surrounded by a world where everything is managed digitally.

While all this may feel blooming and fanciful, the impact on our Societal, Mental, Physical and Environmental health can be calamitous if we don’t keep ourselves in check. Social Isolation and lack of Social skills can be the immediate fallback. People may lose the ability to socially hangout or read social cues in other people. Obesity and depression may be on rise with people spending more time with virtual friends and have sedentary lifestyles. With inadequate rules relating to disposal and dumping of personal E-waste, environment safety may be deeply questioned. Increased overall use of devices may cause higher consumption of energy and an increase in greenhouse gas emission.

Owing to IoT, the future will leave us as changed society with modified ethos, inspirational values and kids who wouldn’t choose careers as doctors, engineers. It will in a way, change the world culturally!

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