UX Design and Emerging Technologies
In our everyday lives, we often witness people feeling not very clever while understanding a new technology or while handling various technological devices. This is especially true when it comes to the latest technological advances that take place. People find it difficult to grasp how the new technologies work as they are not habituated to it yet in their everyday lives. This happens because typically people working on developing these technological advances have been working on it for a considerable amount of time to perfect it. Thus due to this perception gap, technological advancements come across as technological marvels to people. They are hesitant to use it because of the perceived notion that it will be — ‘complicated to use’ than what they are routinely used to. They also are cautious about trusting these new technologies right away.
The marvels of our age are plentiful. Computers, the internet, and mobile devices have primarily served to quicken the advances in the way people communicate, collaborate, and conduct business. We may notice that many prevailing models of interaction have been enhanced, rather than transformed. This was made possible by moving from the physical to the digital domain, making products, services, and processes cheaper, faster and better. For example, people are watching movies in theaters but are buying tickets via a mobile app. They eat restaurant food but often order a takeaway online. They book a cab, reserve a hotel room, make flight reservations, pay their bills and a multitude of other things online with the help of their digital devices.
Since UX Designers are the ones who are enabling technologies to make the lives of people easier, the onus of staying up to date with technology lies with them. They need to stay continually updated about the technological changes happening in the world. When we are designing products to WOW people, the usage of latest technological advances make all the difference. They not only aid in creating the Wow factor but also make the products interesting and saves time & effort. Thus UX Designers have to constantly step up their game and serve as intermediaries for connecting newer technologies with people. Thus, UX Designers should be enablers of bringing out products that are equipped with newer and emerging technologies in such a manner that it becomes easy for new users to trust and use them with ease. After all, these advances in technology are meant for the benefit of people and to create a conducive environment they can thrive in.
To achieve this, UX Designers have to understand the business, design, and technology and to make way for human responsive technology. This does not mean they have to eliminate the complex, but they should try to make the complex more approachable and intuitively understandable. As John Maeda, the celebrated designer & technologist articulates ‘Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.’
Recently there have been tremendous advances in the following technological fields such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Robotics, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Blockchain, 3D Printing and the Internet of Things (IoT). These disruptive technologies have impacted the design of products, services, and experiences for people they may require. UX Designers should study these technologies and examine the transformations they have brought about and explore further possibilities.
With the use of these technologies, we are talking about robots assisting us everywhere — in restaurants, at airports, in offices or just being a friend to hang out with. Imagine our sunglasses showing us directions as we walk, drones carrying our parcels, use of holograms for advertising, residences built with 3D printing, banking revolutionized by blockchain, taking a trip on an exotic island through VR, smart houses, public spaces & offices enabled with IoT and many more. These scenarios are already a reality in many parts of the world.
To understanding the newer technologies and tame their potential uses within the social & ethical boundaries, to study how they will impact people in the short & long term will require education & collaboration between the innovators, technology experts, and UX Designers. UX Design fraternity and the Colleges/Universities who teach this discipline, also need to continually nurture this innovative mindset. This exercise may even result in new design & technology specializations, many of which we have not yet thought of. It is also likely that in the near future, we will see the blurring of boundaries between design and engineering for software, hardware, & biotechnology. Therefore the overlapping and collaborative trajectory of the careers of industrial designers, computer engineers, UX practitioners, and scientists will take them into unexplored spaces. Just as the farmers who moved to the cities participate in the industrial revolution and had no idea how their lives were about to change, it is difficult for us at this juncture to envisage completely the outcome of the collective work of such teams.
However, we can safely conclude that the convergence of these technologies will be far greater than the sum of its parts. If UX Designers are prepared to take on such challenges, the sky is the limit!!
- By Priya Dubey
24th April 2019