Dentsu South Africa

Augmented Humanity

The interwoven experience of a digital and physical interaction will fundamentally change our interactions and behaviour. But how do we retain the elements that make us human – that make our lives better, richer and more purposeful?

The relationship between human beings and technology is becoming more complex every day, and machine intelligence has emerged as a key driver to superior customer experiences. But how can marketers and brands harness this power to build trust and respect and create digital experiences that enrich life and help humans make better decisions? Enter augmented humanity (AH).

Emerging technology 

The way humans and technology interact with each other has the potential to transform how we live, work and play. Isobar refers to this creative dynamic as augmented humanity and it’s an idea they have been exploring in order to put people, trust and rich experiences first in their creative process.

‘Augmented humanity impacts everything, from how we work and travel to how we shop and engage with our favourite brands. It changes the time we spend on repetitive manual tasks that can be automated, optimised or digitised, and makes that time more meaningful and magical,’ says Daniël Sytsma, Chief Design Officer, EMEA, and Executive Creative Director, Amsterdam.

Human beings have reached a critical juncture – looking beyond websites, social media, content and analytics, and focusing on the experiences that allow us to fundamentally transform aspects of our human existence, helping us to live better lives. As marketers, it’s our job to harness the power and potential of augmented art forms to help customers fulfil their purpose and deepen their life experience.

Innovating the travel experience

Applying this philosophy to a client’s brief, the agency came up with an idea that would make car journeys more enjoyable for families. Since children are increasingly looking to screens for entertainment on a road trip, why not use technology to stimulate their imagination while they are travelling?


The campaign uses location-based interactive audiobooks to transform ordinary road objects into magical characters of a story. The Snelweg Sprookjes (translated: Road Tales) story engine creates tales based on the location of the user. To achieve this, the creative team had to scan all Dutch highways to identify objects like bridges, windmills, trees, petrol stations and other landmarks that could be incorporated into story elements. All the surveyed objects were linked to story elements in the Snelweg Spoorkjes app. From there the app could identify the objects required to build a tailor-made story for each user, ensuring a seamless online to offline experience. 


‘The big challenge was that we knew that the magic of the experience was most felt when the stories would react to very specific objects along the road, like bridges, windmills and iconic buildings, which is best achieved when you write a custom story for every part of the road. At the same time we wanted to deliver a scalable experience that works on every section of the highway, regardless of when you drop in,’ explains Daniël. 

‘This is not your typical AR work because there is no visual element to the experience. Our goal was to create an experience for kids on the backseat that entertained them without looking at a screen. The app allows you to pick a story and hit the play button – from then on it’s an audio-only experience to ensure a mixture of AR and screenless entertainment.’

Turbo Gerrit

The result

The app was met with great success. It reached number one in the app store within 24 hours and won five Silver Cannes Lions in the Entertainment, Brand Experience & Activation, Radio & Audio, Digital Craft and Mobile categories. The work also earned the agency a D&AD Yellow Pencil award.

And for Dutch parents, the great payoff is that their children stay entertained while their imagination is stimulated, and it might finally signal the end of the dreaded ‘Are we there yet?’