UX & IoT | Will UX connect the dots of IoT?Consumer centric Internet of Things products emerged as a new layer of devices which managed to connect formerly static and non-connected devices with computers, tablets, and smartphones. For instance, Nest (thermostat and smoke alarm), wearables (smart watches, fitness bands…etc.), and August Smart Lock (door lock system) are all examples of consumer centric or consumer based Internet of Things devices.
IoT signifies a major shift in the idea of the Internet, where it will power not just computing devices, but also billions of everyday devices, from heart monitoring implants to toaster ovens. Large businesses have already started to invest in IoT to gain competitive advantage by collecting and analyzing data from millions of wearable and embeddable devices to make meaningful business decisions.
Designing the Experience
Right now, companies are trying to make their connected product work, but few are focused on making it usable. There needs to be a designed experience for users to find value in connected products. Designing for IoT comes with a bunch of challenges that will be new to designers accustomed to pure digital services. How tricky these challenges prove will depend on :
1 The maturity of the technology you’re working with
2 The context of use or expectations your users have of the system
3 The complexity of your service (e.g. how many devices the user has to interact with).
More UX and less GUIWith small form factors, majority of the devices will have small or no visual interfaces. There will be less buttons to push and scroll-bars to pull. Without large scale screens, the need for great UX design will become even more important, but the primary mode of interacting with these devices will be using touch gestures and voice.
Multi-device ExperiencesA single user experience will get spread across multiple devices (personal and non-personal), different platforms and different points in time. Some respond to touch, voice, gestures whereas others respond to sensor tricking or digital juggling. A UX designer will have to break out of platform specific standards and learn how to provide a continuous user experience across multiple devices and platforms.
In 2020, there could be 200-Billion connected devices, from smart dust to smart cities
Speech as unifying modalitySpeech is the simplest and oldest form of communication by the humans. Using speech as the medium, the user interface becomes almost invisible and the experience becomes as natural as day-to-day activity. The goal is to communicate with devices as we would each other do as humans. Dialogue evokes emotions, meaning, identity and trust.
Designing beyond logos, colors, fontsWith significantly less to literally no interfaces, branding will take new forms other than pixels. Voice, sound tone and tactile feedback will become the ways in which users will identify a brand.
A UX designer must understand how to communicate brand experiences using these means.
Internet-like failures are irritatingFor instance, you command your lights to switch on and they respond after 2 minutes or don’t respond at all. What will be your reaction? You will be irritated just like “Web page not available” or disconnected Skype calls. As the IoT is highly asynchronous due to wide range of connections between devices, these kinds of experiences are very irritating.
Intelligence is the secret sauceUX and Intelligence should go hand-in-hand in right proportions for the IoT to be successful and engaging for all the users. As IoT is all about sophistication and large amount of data, there has to be considerable amount of attention to Intelligence factor for the enjoy-ability of the product.
Will UX connect the dots of IoT?As IoT involves less to no interface, UX will be the prime factor that will drive the entire product experience among the customers. This not only involves UI or Interface design rather the underlying connection between each and every product that should be knitted carefully with each other. Designers have a very large space and opportunity to contribute to this revolutionary technology which will impact millions of lives around the globe.
Prashanth Shanmugam With 3 Years of Professional Experience in Design and technology, I have a great passion for UX Design, Usability Testing and User Research. With a formal knowledge of Design Process, I prototype Interactive and Intuitive Designs for Desktops, Mobiles and Wearable Technologies.