IoT and the User Experience Challenge
The Internet of Things (IoT) trend that is rapidly climbing the Gartner hype cycle was discussed in our last blog post. We are paying close attention to the User Experience design aspect of IoT, as it will present a lot of challenges due to its inherent factors like scale, complexity, data, and number of moving parts.
To bring simplicity to this potentially complex IoT world, we advocate certain guidelines when we solve this design problem for our customers.
How Things Change for Users in IoT
With IoT, every device—be it an appliance, a car, a gadget in your home or office—will be able to sense its environment or situation and respond with or without manual intervention.
All the things on the planet (and possibly beyond) will be bound by a common thread that resides on the Cloud. For example, sensors inside your body can send regular updates of your health vitals, which can be monitored remotely by an Internet of Health application that will release an exact dose of medicine, or a phone app can let you monitor your garage door, patio lights or vacuum cleaner while you enjoy a movie.
While IoT will reduce mundane chores and simplify interactions with devices, it is nonetheless crucial to incorporate some key elements in the user experience.
Typically, any IoT system will have the following interfaces:
- Device monitoring, through a web or smartphone app
- Device configuration
- IoT Connected Cloud for management, administration, and reporting
The design of each of these interfaces should be guided by some key considerations.
Make Interfaces Consumable
Smart devices can monitor almost anything, almost forever, leading to a constant stream of data. When it comes to information, how much is too much? Data streams should be designed for humans, not machines. They should seem useful, not intrusive.
Users should be given a judicious choice of data. For example, when you are at work, you may not want to know the status of your oven every second. A notification when it is turned On or Off, and a warning when it is On for more than ten minutes is a reasonable amount of information. Users should be comfortably able to answer a broad question – Is everything under control?
We have developed an app that lets you track your car performance at a glance by providing a judicious selection of information at the user’s fingertips.
Hide the Mundane from Users
IoT will take some of the drudgery out of life. Maintenance will be automated. All things with wear and tear or some malfunction will tell you when they need replacement. Businesses will benefit too, as they can monitor your equipment and suggest new replacements.
One day your IoT-enabled car will know more about itself than you can keep track of: How much fuel does it consume, does it need to be serviced, which part needs replacement? It will transmit this information to the connected IoT cloud.
An app that can gather and track all this will check your calendar, prompt you to make an appointment at your garage, and also let you make one with a simple tap.
Provide Peace of Mind
With IoT in place, almost every device will be controllable from a distance with apps. Forgotten things and tasks will be a thing of the past. Things will tell you where they are, and alert you when they need to be acted upon.
Products that conveniently manage devices remotely will greatly add to peace of mind. How many times have you remembered a door left unlocked after having driven 10 miles away? How convenient to be able to lock it with an app on your phone, while you wait in traffic!
Here is an app that we developed using NFC called ‘IFI—I Found It’ that helps you find important things.
Creating the Experience for IoT Products
We are partnering with several of our customers to develop products and solutions in the IoT space, and helping them solve the related UX challenges by applying our philosophy of user-centric innovation and our technology expertise.
We have built many intelligent, intuitive user interfaces for IoT apps to support different multi-device, multi-user, multi-location, and multi-lingual interconnected scenarios.
We also have the technical expertise to architect and develop best-in-class, end-to-end, IoT solutions, right from devices, gateways and the Cloud, to applications for various connected ecosystems, that can handle all complexities.