When the digital world controls the physical one...

The digital world is rapidly encroaching into our physical one... Have you been paying attention?

Not too long ago there was a clear divide between our digital world of Facebook, twitter, email, blogs and feeds and our physical world of switches and cars and "stuff". With the exception of "vibrate mode on a phone" activities in the digital world rarely had a direct impact on our physical one. As I type this the divide is rapidly closing and it isn't hard to see a future where this is virtually no divide at all.

As exhibit A take a close look at ITTT.com (If This Then That). This web service allows you to build "recipes" that blend together nearly any part of your digital world (phone voice mail, email, text messages, CNN news feeds, weather forecasts and more) into "outputs" that allow you to, for instance, create a rule that sends you a text message any time your Facebook stocks goes over $30/share (not that it ever will again). ITTT.com was cool already but now it can connect to two appliance that govern our physical world  - the Belkin outlet switch and the Phillips Hue light controller.

This allows you to create ITTT recipes that automatically turn on your hall light if you get an email with the subject "late" after 5:00pm. Alternatively you could create a recipe that changes the hue of your lights to pale blue if your tweets contain any words associated with "sad". Combining hue and switches with social and web services allows you to manage your physical environment automatically based on happenings in the digital worls.

Exhibit B takes a look at the Samsung party event hosted in NYC (http://creativity-online.com/work/samsungthump-up-next/31897) that allows party goers to control fireworks displays using their smart phones - with one lucky winner receiving the rights to control the show remotely while watching a webcast of the event. It isn't hard to see this concept taking off - giving party and bar patrons the ability to control light shows and environment aspects to their liking.

Next up? How about a remote "tap you on the shoulder" or maybe internet controlled joy buzzers strategically placed around the office or a water balloon launcher. I suspect we are just beginning to see the impacts of the intersection between physical and digital worlds colliding.

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