tech predictions 2020: it’s true we thrive in different environments and as the new year turns over, new technologies could make for very strange spaces indeed. it’s a fairly new concept, but in the future the internet of things will enhance real-world experiences by connecting digital objects to physical actions, or vice versa. it’s a world filled with ‘phygital’ spaces, fuelled by touch screens, AI assistants, and virtual reality, where the physical and digital can’t be told apart.


a more immediate example looks at AR: ‘in the tour de france, we’ve been using augmented reality to provide a three-dimensional view of the profile of a stage of a race. you’re watching the cyclists going across the alps, but then what you could do for your second screen is log into an augmented reality three-dimensional view of the actual mountain stage,’ reinecke said. ‘we have trackers on the bicycles, and we embed that in the augmented reality experience, so suddenly you can have a three dimensional perspective of what these athletes are actually conquering. it provides a very realistic blend between the physical and the digital world.’

designboom TECH predictions 2019: 'phygital' spaces

one of caper’s smart shopping carts
image via CNN



one of the first environments in which phygital spaces are likely to make an impact is in the classroom. according to acer, in the future walls don’t just separate classrooms but work together to create a 360-degree interactive landscape for learning. say goodbye whiteboards as holograms engage learners and even desks become part of the phygital revolution, transforming into cloud-connected smart devices, that work as mini-hubs for student learning. 

designboom TECH predictions 2019: 'phygital' spaces

earlier this year artist jenny sabin exhibited an immersive installation that transforms people’s expressions into light and color (read more…)



another environment is retail, where the ‘phygital’ concept is set to transform brick-and-mortar stores into blank canvases, branded digitally with artificial intelligence and virtual reality. we’re at the dawn of a new type of shopping experience where the line between the online and offline is blurry. a good example would be the amazon go grocery store (still in beta stages) where a customer scans a code with their smartphone, picks up the products they wish, and then leaves the store without passing through the traditional checkout line.


then there are start-ups like caper and veeve, who are developing smart carts, a different way to skip the queues at supermarkets by adding technology to the shopping cart rather than the entire store. these companies have added cameras and sensors to the carts, combined with ai to tell what you’ve placed in them. customers pay by entering a credit card, or by using apple pay or google pay.

designboom TECH predictions 2020: 'phygital' spaces

a patricia urquiola-designed space for swarovski. called the ‘crystal studio’, elevates the in-store experience by offering a memorable, highly interactive and socially focused environment (read more…)



austrian jeweler, swarovski recently opened its first ‘crystal studio’ in california with interior designed by milan-based designer patricia urquiola. it combines brick-and-mortar with virtual elements, providing an interactive and socially-focused shopping experience. digital touchpoints are seen throughout, ranging from interactive tablets that provide styling tips to large screens displaying brand and campaign content — the result is an inviting brand immersive space.

if voice and AI technology are expected to replace keyboard and screen interfaces, all that’s left is a seamlessly blended phygital world. in 2020 is many providers are expected to implement widespread 5G rollouts. commercial MR goggles like magic leap are already on the market, and emotion-reading ai is slowly creeping its way into society. what can we expect? an environment that is smart, connected, and therefore adaptive. all of this contributes to a new reality which is enhanced and altered by cleverly concealed digital elements that cater to our moods and desires.