Megatrend 2: Digital Physical

“’Digital’ is no longer a glorified marketing department in a company, or an economic sector on its own, but a layer over everything.”

– Future Crunch*

Everyday the digital world moves further into the physical space – internet of things, 3D printing, automation, artificial intelligence – have all become part of our lives, sometimes without us even knowing. There is no area of life that hasn’t been transformed by technology in one way or another.

If you’re not already, you should be asking yourself, “how can my product be better using digital technology?” because your competitors are.

When we talk about “Digital Physical” at Outerspace, we’re primarily talking about physical products that are being enhanced by digital elements or features. The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is probably the most common way of referring to this area of products that merge digital, online, and physical.

Think about how much photography has changed and accelerated since evolving from film to digital. You no longer have to purchase film, take it to a store to develop and print the images, at a high cost of time, money and inconvenience. Now you can take as many photos as you want on your phone, then store, sort, edit, and instantly upload and share them at virtually no cost!

Digital tech has revolutionised the retail sector too. Last year, global online sales amounted to 2.3 trillion USD and projections show a growth of up to 4.48 trillion USD by 2021.** While some people like the convenience of shopping online, many still prefer to visit a bricks and mortar store. But that doesn’t get you out of the digital sphere altogether. Stores like Amazon Go now allow you to walk in, grab whatever you like and walk straight out, with all sales being processed automatically through an app on the phone in your pocket. Lolli and Pops, a US based sweet store, invites their customers to “enrol their face” – each time they walk into the store they are recognized in real-time by an app with facial recognition that the sales associates are using on their tablet devices. The staff know your allergies, your past purchases, and can recommend products via AI-enhanced analytics without you even having to introduce yourself.


We’re constantly seeing this digital layer transform physical areas of our day to day lives, but the opposite is happening too. In a retro backlash from computer gaming company Nintendo, their latest offering, the Nintendo Switch, a modular, digital gaming platform, now has a very physical accessory. Nintendo Labo brings physical play back into digital gaming with cardboard DIY accessories that kids can build and incorporate into the digital game play. Nintendo Labo appeals to parents who are conscious of their kids having too much screen time and feel a sense of nostalgia towards ‘old fashioned play’.

Even heavy primary industries are going digital. For many years the mining sector has used digital technology and GPS to plan and track their extraction and transport equipment to optimise logistics from control centres. But the digital influence has expanded further into the physical world including vehicle cockpits. Equipment operators expect access to technology to help them do their jobs, but the cabins of earthmovers are rough and dusty places. So Motium worked with Outerspace Design to develop a connected tablet PC that is ruggedised, water-resistant and dust proof. With an anti-glare screen, large heat sinks, and sealed connection ports, the “Tuff Panel” PC provides in-cabin access to software and real-time site information even under extreme environmental conditions.

Ruggedized tablet

The mining sector is also using digital technology to tackle the problem of driver drowsiness which causes errors, injury and death every year. Outerspace worked with Optalert to develop a wearable monitoring system, including a specialised set of eyeglasses. The glasses include an optical sensor that records eye blinking frequency and speed to accurately detect driver fatigue and alert the driver before it becomes dangerous.

These are just some of the ways digital technology is finding its way into the physical world to enhance and enrich our lives. Technology now plays a pivotal role in consumer decision-making and the ability of products to meet the needs and expectations of current and future consumers in a global marketplace.

To see how this megatrend applies to your product, contact us via our website. We’ll help you explore the possibilities by asking questions like how can digital and connected features help your product:

  • appeal to more people?
  • evolve into the future and stay relevant?
  • function better, solve more problems or offer more convenience?
  • enhance or offer a more customised user experience?

If you’re interested in how you can use megatrends to increase the value of your products, please get in touch!

Read Megatrend 3: Powershift

*Future Crunch **

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