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Considering the User Experience in the Internet of Things

10/13/2015,
by Anna Umanenko, CMO
UX in Internet of Things

 

The Internet of Things is taking the ordinary Internet we know to another level, where devices cooperate without human intrusion to perform complex tasks. Even though the concept sounds promising and revolutionary, implementation faces some challenges that relate to app development and user experience standards.

Because the Internet of Things represents a complicated collaboration of devices, the standards for app development and user experience need to be adapted in order to make elements in the network work in harmony.

The goal of the Internet of Things is to make life easier; that's why usability and comfort is ultimately most important. The technology world is approaching the age of smart devices that can predict and socialize and the need for well-defined user experience standards is rising.

 

Why IoT devices pose challenges for technologists

 

IoT devices exist in different forms and do not possess the same functionalities. This means that their basic data input and output abilities are different - some devices in the network may have a communication function built in (e.g., screen) while others cannot display information directly.

To get information from the network of devices, you need to have an appropriate web or phone app. Also, because devices exist in different forms, technologists have to ensure smooth cooperation between devices, raising the issue of usability in the system's design.

 

usability in IoT

 

Usability in IoT requires an understanding of the relationships between devices, how each device works and ways to control their operation. The UX has to ensure a user's cross-device experience in the network and offer a functional interface that harmonizes the operation of the system.

Because IoT is developing, there are no set standards that regulate UX development. But at the same time, with the launch of the Apple Watch, the world of wearable technology and IoT will start changing at a much faster pace.

For technologists this means that they are responsible for making IoT devices truly useful, in order for users to have a good reason to switch from an ordinary device that they know to something new that guarantees an excellent user experience. 

 

How IoT will change UX

 

Most of IoT devices will be rather small and won't have interface with buttons or scrollbars, where information is displayed. The emphasis in development will be heavily placed on UX which will be based on the use of voice and touch gestures. 

 

user experience in IoT

 

While UX norms have not been finalized, there are some basic recommendations that will help developers think in the right direction to create good UX for IoT apps.

 

  • Design for data usage.

Currently IoT devices in a network or embedded devices provide data that we were unable to receive before, thus making the use of data fundamental for IoT. It is based on generation of information that can be fully applied to bring an accurate result.

Considering the amount of information that IoT devices generate, the designer's role in the development of good user experience will significantly change, as end users will not deal with interface software. Designers will rather turn into data presenters.

 

  • Remember about your user.

When it comes to the development of UX, it is important to remember that currently IoT is mostly comprised of devices representing things that we somehow know and apply on a daily basis. To use at least one device, a person usually makes one or two steps, but if there are more than three devices in the network, completing a long list of steps for each device might become a frustrating experience.

To create the correct UX, designers need to understand what lies behind data being collected, the best way to present data and how to turn it into useful information for the user. Needs of end users and their preferences (e.g., an operating system) should be considered.

 

  • Double check to know it works perfectly.

IoT networks are built so that all elements work not only as separate devices, but are strongly connected and synchronized.

A user is never happy to see a web page that is not loading, but accepts the fact that Internet issues may cause trouble like that. But, with IoT, where a user has to deal in real-time use, expectations become much higher. Response delays in the IoT network may result in the loss of transmitted data or commands and unreasonable pauses that slow down the network's operations.

While connection is solved through Wi-Fi Internet, devices still need to work fast to provide an excellent user experience. For developers of IoT technologies, this means they have to ensure that tools they are creating are flexible and will fit into the future needs of a user.

 

  • Ensure data security.

IoT systems pose a new challenge for data security. The task to protect personal data that is collected and applied by a set of devices becomes a top priority. To ensure that the end user's sensitive data is transmitted and stored safely, developers need to consider this fact when working on IoT devices and applications.

 

  • Use the ultimate creativity to bring the end result.

IoT network can consist of one device that is supported by a simple application, but can perform complex functions if it involves multiple devices, user interfaces and applications. The only chance to get the IoT system implemented successfully is to ensure that through creativity technologists can provide a result that simplifies the end user's life.  

 

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