Humans and their habits are evolving alongside technology. What will change? What will stay the same? We take a look at how Hybrid Reality will impact the future of business, and the future of the world.

We live on one earth, yet in two distinct worlds. The physical world is what we know best – the sea breeze, the sun on your face, the warmth of a body, the sound of the city. However, every time you glance at your smartphone or update your Dropbox, you enter the virtual realm. The online and offline worlds have reached a meeting point. The big questions arise. How do we create a seamless integration of the two? How do we take advantage of the power of algorithms without losing track of what it means to be human? Standing at this monumental crossroad, we have two options: To see separate realities on the verge of collision, or two spheres capable of peaceful (and profitable) convergence. It is crucial for us to trust in the latter.

For us to move forward, as people or as businesses, we need to fuse technology’s astounding capabilities with authentic human truths. To paraphrase Bill Bernbach, it is fashionable to talk about the changing human. What marketers need be concerned with is the human whose intrinsic desires remain unchanged. Discovery, convenience, belonging, entertainment, improvement, play, philanthropy, status and communication will remain relevant. But the way in which we fulfill those desires will change. And it’s already changing.

Hybrid reality (the seamless integration of digital and “real life”) has the capacity to optimize human and brand potential beyond what we could ever imagine.

Here are two examples of how HR is revolutionizing the way business is done:

The epitome of the digital-analogue convergence, augmented reality is a thing of science non-fiction. Image recognition technology abolishes the need for the awkward, gimmicky QR codes of the past. Although still in its infancy, AR is expecting to generate $600 billion in revenue in the next year. Being able to digitally supplement our physical world will change the way in which we do business, and it will change the way we consume. Retail will be gamified, and increasingly interactive. Shopping will be an experience, rather than a task. In turn, retailers will benefit from the direct, customer-centric engagement that AR enables. Combined with a reduced inventory and some useful big data, you begin to see how AR could revolutionize retail as we know it.

Bridging the gap between a brand’s brick-and-mortar and online presence has posed a challenge for marketers and retailers alike. Could AR be the ultimate solution? We think so. Thanks to mobile AR apps, this technology is not limited to (as in the case with Google Glass) an elite few. AR has the potential to reach the masses, and according to, is already doing so. They predict 2.5 billion mobile AR apps to be downloaded by 2017.

Once the stuff of sci-fi and gimmicky advertising, AR has matured considerably in the past few years. Facebook’s recent acquisition of Oculus Rift to Google’s investment in Magic Leap, industry trends hint that VR is soon to become the new normal, enhancing and re-enchanting everything from retail to gaming. Some recent examples: Ikea brings home décor to life with their AR 2015 Furniture Catalogue, Apple lets potential customers try on the Apple Watch at home using mobile-enabled AR, and RideOn gamified the slopes with their AR ski goggles.

The Internet of Things is also bridging the digital-analogue divide. Wearables and nearables greatest asset is the big data they provide. From the “quantified self” data generated by smart clothes, to location-based analytics, the applications are revolutionary. Big data will humanize marketing. Gone will be the days of trying to sell something to someone who doesn’t want to be sold to. The analytics provided by beacons, wearables and the seamlessly connected Internet of Things will mean that gadgets will know what a consumer wants before they do. At least, that’s where it’s going.

Because the Internet of Things will be a physical reproduction of the actual Internet, social networks will not be ruled out of the equation. Reviews, ratings and articles will be even more accessible, at a moment’s notice, and the importance of customer experience is not to be underestimated. Ultimately, this hyper-aware technology equals a win-win situation – everybody gets what they want. Businesses end up with loyal, engaged consumers that actively opt-in to the brand, and consumers get the products and services they actually desire.

Estimote beacons and stickers are wireless devices that are changing the game of retail, creating a seamless, convenient and personalised shopping experience. Macy’s is capitalizing on the offline data-driven retail experience, after they implemented beacon technology in 800+ stores. But it’s not all about trying to push products in customer’s faces – Japan Airlines is using beacons to improve business processes and efficiency within Tokyo airport. A lot of this new technology is about providing the consumer with something they truly need. Nivea did just that with their StickNFind app, combining wearables and nearables to help parents to keep track of their children while on the beach.

The fact remains that our world is both technological and organic. The digital and the physical do not exist in isolation from each other. The online and offline worlds are already beginning to merge. Augmented reality, wearables and nearables are providing us with glimpses of the future: a hybrid world where everything is simple, smart and people-orientated.

We are confronted by the sci-fi possibility of digital technology stepping out of the box and into the real world. You may be excited. You may be repelled. Regardless, hybrid reality is the inevitable outcome of technological change. And as businesses, it’s up to us to make the most of it.