It will – in the not too distant future – become old-fashioned (if not a little silly) to refer to the digital world in terms of devices, platforms and interfaces. As the Internet of Things, AI and AR gain traction, everything will become digitised and interconnected. Individuals, their belongings and environments will all communicate.
Brands actually evolved to become less technological and more biological, aiming to understand every human as a whole
We will be living in a truly networked world. As Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said earlier this year: "There will be so many IP addresses… so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won’t even sense [the internet]. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room."
This networked world is set to be pushed even further, as we enter what Marketing columnist Tracey Follows calls the "post-human" era – a time when technology becomes more human and humanity becomes more technologised. Contrary to common dystopian projections, she believes that this blurring of the lines between biology and tech will actually create better synergy between people, other species and the environment.
She envisages a world in which brands are enabled to be more human and helpful, aided by tech. Speaking of a post-human future, she says: "Brands actually evolved to become less technological and more biological, aiming to understand every human as a whole: mind and body, thoughts and feelings, physical health and mental wellbeing, too."
Savvy brands are already thinking about how they can enhance consumer lifestyles through seamlessly tying together the digital and physical. Under Armour is one such brand. By thinking beyond its roots as a sportswear manufacturer and embracing tech – to such an extent that it believes its main competitors will soon be the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Samsung – Under Armour employees are innovating in new digital spheres.
Reflecting the actions of many a tech monolith, the company has spent billions on the acquisition of fitness apps Endomondo and MyFitnessPal. Not content with this play for domination of the ‘quantified self’, Under Armour now wants to build a unified platform that specifically connects its digital properties with advanced wearable technology.
Chris Carroll, Under Armour’s head of marketing in EMEA, told Marketing: "Connected fitness is the future of Under Armour’s growth. Just imagine you had chips embedded into your apparel or footwear, for recording data, and also providing navigation. You could use [the data] for comparison purposes with other athletes. That’s the direction we’re moving in."