Writing for the Harvard Business Review, H. James Wilson confirms that the evolving Internet of Things (IoT) will prompt companies to place more of an emphasis on understanding and developing an intuitive user experience (UX).
“As the IoT expands to include people, companies that create value will need to understand user experience, psychological, and even some philosophical concepts much more deeply than they do now,” he explained. “They must learn how people really interact with things and why those things matter.”
For the most part, says Wilson, humans want their things to be usefully inconspicuous.
“Working in the kitchen, I interact with the refrigerator, knife, can opener, frying pan and stove in such a way that I ‘see through’ each individual thing to the task of making dinner,” he said.
“If the can opener becomes the object of my attention and scrutiny, it’s because it’s malfunctioning and thus disruptive of my smoothly coping interaction-dominant dynamics (IDS).”
Despite all the interest in eye-catching designs, Wilson emphasizes, cognitive science suggests most opportunities for the IoT will arise by creating useful offerings that intentionally avoid diverting users’ attention away from what they’re trying to accomplish.
Eliott Jones, VP of User Experience at Rambus, concurs with Wilson’s assessment. In his work, says Jones, he has come to refer to this principle as “keeping the context.”
“Modern UI technologies for the IoT strive to engage the range of a user’s senses by incorporating evolved design principles that facilitate simple, more natural methods of interacting with the environment,” Eliott explained.
“These capabilities manifest themselves in features that can be implemented via voice or gestural control, haptic feedback, social and behavioral controls, adaptive, multi-device interfaces and stateless access across companion devices.”
Specific examples, notes Jones, include electric cars that can be programmed, monitored and controlled remotely via a simple mobile app; personalized home environments that are configured and regulated from any location; phone calls handed off seamlessly from one device to another as the user moves from the office to the car; and social, crowd-sourced driving experiences powered by real time traffic feedback.
“An intuitive, focused, empathetic and human-centric UI ultimately becomes an essential part of a product’s competitive advantage,” he added.
Interested in learning more about the IoT? You can check out some of our previous articles here, including “Understanding the IoT’s evolving requirements,” “Securing and moving a dynamic IoT” and “Smart sensors go lensless for the IoT.”