Impact of UX on Wearables and IoT


User Experience (UX) seems to be a simple term, but on the contrary it is at the very core of all technological innovations happening around us be it interaction with service providers, products, mobile apps, smartphones and wearables. Gaining a customer is a feat in itself but to keep them coming back for more is a different game altogether. Only the top players go out and beyond to offer their users a unique experience that is top class as well.

As Whitney Hess, Experience Design Coach, aptly puts it, “User Experience is a commitment to developing products and services with purpose, compassion, and integrity. It is the never-ending process of seeing the world from the customers’ perspective and working to improve the quality of their lives. It is the process of maintaining the health of the business and finding new ways to help it grow sustainably. It is the perfect balance between making money and making meaning.”

UX impact on Wearable Technology

Wearable technology has seemingly wide applications ranging from fitness trackers, heart rate monitors to smart watches, GPS trackers, wearable cameras and smart glasses. Yet wearable technology is in its infancy when it comes to the designing for the right kind of UX expected by users.

Taking into account who the end-user will be is a major factor in designing UX. A tech-savvy user will have different expectations as opposed to a user who has just started to explore what wearable technology has on the menu. While keeping that in mind, it is important to design UX that will glide seamlessly incorporating website and mobile device interaction with the wearables.

Size and usability matters when you are designing for wearable devices. Designing for a small display screen and teaming it with the right interaction gesture is the essence. Announcing an incoming call and a simple ‘hello’ as voice input to receive it instead of having the user look at the screen to decide if they want to receive it and actually push the button to receive the call can be quiet tasking when they are driving or are engaged in some other physical activity.

It is distracting to have a constantly beeping device announcing notifications, strapped to your arm. Designing UX that puts the user in control of how they want to be notified and about what, can make all the difference. A slight vibration or even a blink of light just to notify the user will do the job, without taking him away from the job at hand.

Look matters when it comes to wearable devices. Users go for stylish, lean and fashionable devices as opposed to something that might look bulky and ugly. Also no one would want to sport a dead beat when the wearable device battery runs out of battery. Longer battery life is desirable if the wearable is for advanced use, for example a wallet or door key. Dead battery in critical situations leaves user in a fix, they might as well quit using the wearable device altogether. Also standardization across all platforms, be it the website, mobile apps or wearable devices is a must for a uniform user experience.

UX impact on the Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT technology is a network of physical objects that are internet-enabled and work with web services through sensors, radio frequencies, software, electronics and smart phones to provide service and value to the users. Wearable technology when teamed up with Internet of Things (IoT) fuels interoperability between connected devices.

Imagine you want to get into a warm cozy bed when you reach home. All you have to do is send a command via your wrist watch to your bedroom heater with a push of button and a warm bedroom will be waiting for you. In short, the combination of technologies will design your comfort for you.

Designing UX for Internet of Things depends heavily on behavior patterns. Changing behavior pattern is a challenge and designers need to come up with User Interface (UI) that is more delightful and simple to adapt to than the UI that is currently in use.

Sven Newman, Founder of Daylight Design, suggests focusing on human needs. He believes that there is no doubt that emerging IoT will have profound impact on world, but it depends on people who make sure that the companies attend to unmet needs and design for effective UX.

Internet of Things is a network of object connected via some sort of network connection, be it Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or the worldwide web. Data is transferred over this network for communication between various devices. Since the network is prone to connectivity issues technical glitches are bound to happen. Although users are used to such glitches over the websites or browsers, they are quite not tolerant when it comes to the objects and that is a major UX challenge.

Juggling multiple interfaces is another challenge that UX designers face. Multiple devices are connected to a network, yet they cannot be teamed to perform various tasks. Each device has its own app that controls it and this requires interacting with multiple apps to operate these devices individually. Imagine the height of user satisfaction when they will be able to operate multiple devices through single app. UX designers are now focusing on coming up with open standard that will support interoperability amongst multiple IoT devices.

Security and Privacy are two major concerns when it comes to sharing data on any network. Users need to feel confident and safe when they are sharing their details online or when using IoT devices. Honoring user priorities is the key to enhance user experience. Communication between users and Internet of Things devices should be super easy, fast, relevant and meaningful.  

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Author : Poonam Sambargikar Date : 07 Dec 2016