Humans have always been fascinated by the future. While the Mayan looked to the stars for answers we've more recently graduated from Nostradamus to Moore's law. To me the future has always been special because it's a canvas as of yet defined where past sins and aggressions are forgotten and behaviors are bendable.
And so we unveil the first installment on a three-part series focusing on the future. A collections of trends er predictions for the coming year. These trends are not focused solely on interaction design or even user experience, but include technological and human trends as well.
Humans are programmable
While it took the telephone almost 100 years to get into 90% of US households, It's taken the personal computer less than 20 years to get to 70% of US households and if you look at the cellphone, less than 15 years to get to 90% of US households. All those numbers tell us one thing, that as new devices have appeared, the adoption curve by US household has been faster (often by several factor) from one innovation to the next. What we can derive from this adoption frenzy is that humans are programmable and they are willing to change habits at an increasingly faster pace. This curiosity has translated to every other facet of information consumption and not been relegated to just physical device. Think Facebook and how it's altered how we communicate.
Conclusion, your audience is more progressive than the brand you're working on. Challenge yourself, for it the message or service engages the audience, history has shown that adoption follows quickly. For existing brands and services it means not resting on laurels but rather seeking ways to continuously invigorate the brand.
The Interface will give way to context
While it can be argued that the touch gestures popularizes by the iPhone and iPad are inherently more usable than a keyboard or mouse, the iPhone is still inherently a dumb device. By that i mean that every weekday morning as i head to work i explicitly need to check the traffic on maps, or notifications or my stock. What we will see however is a complex transition. On one hand our smart devices will become smaller and more mundane. Take the Nest thermostat as an example. It's UI is completely transparent, the user just turns a knob. Over time, the thermostat becomes more aware of the context in which it operates and of the owners preference within that context. i.e. Owner of the house not in for 8 hours, I bring down the heat or AC. Owner of the house back around 5PM, then i make sure the temp is how they want it. Siri from Apple is yet another technology that allows us to consume content all the while using one of our most natural UIs, our voice.
Conclusion, utility will still reign king as consumers demand more from their devices and services with less input.
It is the experience stupid
Often when talking about the success of the iPhone and iPad, pundits talk about not only the product features or form, but also the app ecosystem around it. And indeed Apples lasting key differentiator has been their obsession with delivering the best complete experience. There was no detail too small, from the unboxing, to the OS used by the devices, to the construction of those devices and the library that powered it. Every detail of interaction had a guidelined, complete with an approval process. What it created was the best customer experience for a smartphone. And now its competitors, Android, Samsung, HTC and Microsoft know that in order to compete with the iPhone, it must also compete not with the product but with the iOS ecosystem. Steve Jobs, whether knowingly or unknowingly trained us to look at things from a systematic point of view. And if the system was good enough, he trained us to pay a premium for it.
Conclusion: Today experiences, products and services need to be thought as a system. With each part of the system holding up its end of the bargain. Any weak link in the chain dooms the entire system, or makes it that much easier to be beaten by a competitor.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?
I found "20 Tech Trends by Frog Studio" to be very entertaining and insightful