The arrival of touch screens into our everyday lives has created a shift in how software designers, consumer-electronics makers, industrial designers, and enterprise-technology architects think about creating products. This shift is, in part, due to the realization that behavior changes when users are given a different form of interface.
Innovation in user and technology interfaces has not stopped with touch. Over the past five years, technologies that utilize voice, motion, and even biosensing have started to make their way to market, each with multiple variations at different stages of maturity. Looking broadly across the various forms of user and technology interfaces, a few overarching trends can be identified:
Continuous evolution toward less intrusive, near-invisible interfaces. Some observers correctly argue that user-interface design has focused too heavily on making user interfaces disappear completely, which can lead to confusion and less efficient interaction experiences with technology. But it’s safe to say that the trajectory of current interface evolution is one moving toward interfaces being less intrusive and less visible.
New interfaces enable new types of applications and technology experiences. By integrating completely new ways to interface with technology, many existing application categories are reinvented and new ones come to life. For example, consider how voice is used as an authentication and command interface for the internet of things (IoT), or for wearables or smart home.
Enterprises will experience BYOI (bring your own interface). Over the past decade, the enterprise-technology market has had to grapple with the invasion of consumer technologies ranging from Wi-Fi to cloud storage to the iPhone. With consumers beginning to experience new ways to interact with technology through consumer-facing entertainment, IoT, and other technologies, we can expect them to begin to demand and, in some cases, bring their own technologies that will change how they interface with technology at work.
Interfaces lead to new ways to experience technology. A confluence of new technologies such as big data, cloud, anticipatory computing, and social media are combining with new interfaces to create entirely new interaction experiences with technology that are continuous, contextual, and anticipatory.
This report examines the maturity of four interfaces and their corresponding markets: touch, voice, motion, and bio/cognition technologies. While touch interfaces are the most mature, motion-sensing technologies in areas like 3D modeling, IoT, and wearables will grow the most in the next three to five years. Meanwhile, in the long term, we will begin to see true biosensor-enabled wearables that can track a person’s health and activity, as well as use this information as a way to act as an interface to other smart systems.
Feature image courtesy Flickr user indigo_girl