The Ever Changing Interface
Published: 26 May, 2015
It feels like a lifetime ago when smartphones hit the market.
When Apple released its first iPhone, Steve Jobs' words, "this changes everything" have become cemented in our history, because it was the first of many phones that did exactly that.
Now mobile almost feels a little passé. Google finally put its foot, showing no mercy to websites that didn't appeal to the mobile user.
Today, our phones are taking better pictures than any camera from a few years ago, are acting as wallets, and are a window to hundreds of thousands of apps we use to make our lives easier (or at least more entertaining).
But what about human experience of reading on a mobile device?
We're still holding a rectangle. Still looking down. An average 221 times a day.
This probably explains all the articles out there that say our informative, entertaining and addictive phones are ruining our lives.
Because we live in a digital world, this information-overloaded landscape has caused a rising number of consumers to look for a new approach.
Enter a new kind of interface, in fact it's hardly an interface at all. These are truly natural, intuitive technologies that respond to our gestures, touch and eye movements. Just think about how we're already using our voices to ask for directions, dictate a text, or to make a phone call.
Wearables and sensor technology are just at the cusp of being a part of our everyday lives. Sure, Google Glass may have flopped upon its first release, but timing is everything, and now we are ready. Tech analysts forecast that 4.9B connected objects will be in use from 2015, up 30% from 2014 (Gartner, November 2014).
This need isn't derived from being bored of staring at a screen, these connected objects are offering solutions. From multi-tasking to increased accessibility.
Talking. Our most basic form of communication. Language has been around for centuries, and even today voice communications are by far the simples and most effective.
Jibo is considered the world's first family robot, that along with two hi-res cameras, uses voice recognition to answer questions, make reminders, search and make everyday tasks simpler and easier.
ING, a Dutch bank has a voice control feature inside their mobile banking app allowing users to check their balance, make payments and discover where their nearest ING branch is, eliminating the need for passwords. Although I don’t know how comfortable I would be asking for my credit card balance aloud in public.
Natural gestures make for an easy and intuitive way to interact with devices. Just look at what Ring ZERO is doing.
Slip it on your finger and control almost any smart device. Define what actions you want your devices to do from drawing designated shapes with the ring such as an envelope to open email, or a triangle to make a call.
Gesture technology is increasing accessibility too. MotionSavvy uses this kind of recognition technology to convert sign language into spoken English by tracking hand movements using a camera, converting them into text on a tablet screen, and also can be spoken aloud.
We’ve been using touchscreens for years now, but new technologies are making touch technology a two-way interaction. We’re used to pressing our fingers to a screen to initiate an action, but imagine the screen your finger hit gave you a sensation back?
Apple Watch comes to mind, with taptic vibrating alerts. Users can even record and send their heartbeat to one another! It even lets you know when to stand up every few hours from a little reminder you can feel from your wrist to your fingertips.
Have you heard of Hug? We’re keen to see how well it really works! A user holds their phone to their heart, and a vibration for the same length of time as their heart-beating embrace is sent to their friend or loved one. Hugs can be sent to multiple users at once and different types of hugs can convey different emotions. I'd say it's worth a download.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Already in a store near you. Oculus Rift is one of the major players and there are certainly more. Navdy is an in-car device that projects smartphone information in hologram form at eye-level.
It simply projects a floating image 6 feet in front of the driver who can use gestures to answer or dismiss calls, or even compose a tweet in the middle of your daily commute!
So what does this all mean? Well we have some very exciting things in store for us, and this is just the beginning.
Companies who have finally wrapped their head around how to cater to their mobile customer need to get ready for another learning curve. How can voice, gestures, touch and even augmented reality be integrated in your business, and offer solutions to your customers?
Only time will tell, but these technologies are here, so start getting those thinking caps on.