Ghost in the Pixel

Uday Gajendar's musings on interaction design

Watching some technologies & trends

I finally surveyed a large set of links and articles collected over the past several weeks, towards the end of 2012 / start of 2013, about emerging trends and technologies UI designers should be aware of. Below is my brief assessment of what jumped out as compelling, worthy of watching in the coming months…Enjoy!

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** Visualizing “Big Data”: The convergence of velocity and variety of massive amounts of unstructured data, with popular desire for beautifully represented, easily digestible illustrations will lead to increased demand for data visualization experts–both technologists and designers. Computational data artists from MIT Media Lab of the 1990′s make a comeback?? It’s notable that Lisa Strausfeld, who help pioneer computationally driven info viz at MIT, is a “Senior Scientist” for the Gallup Organization. Hmm!

** Related to this is personal data analytics: from bodyware (Fitbits, Nike Fuel, Jawbone Up) to the social graph (Facebook, Twitter) to location data (Google Maps, Foursquare) to…who knows what else? What are the tools and visualizations to discover, analyze, synthesize, generate insights and opportunities, etc. Big opportunities that seem to keep increasing with more market demand.

** Mobility evolves to the next level of pervasiveness, further shaping BYOD policies and attitudes. “Any-ness” is now becoming accepted in corporate contexts as a de facto expectation by the workforce, requiring secure app/data/device management abilities that’s not a burden on users. Balancing convenience with control will be paramount! It will take nuanced, strategic design thinking to support that challenge.

** The multiscreen world is here. We’re now living in an “Age of Multiplicity”, with at least 3 or 4 screens (phone, tablet, laptop/desktop, and HDTV…not to mention the car dashboard/Navi too!). Taking advantage of multiscreen interaction patterns will be valuable to enhance and not just merely replicate everywhere the software experience for a screen. Need to think about how the screens can cooperate and shape an amplified interaction-communication experience, via simultaneity, coherence, complementarity.

** 3D printing is red hot! Everyone is buzzing about it and with costs coming down, it will begin to introduce a bold new wave of micro-fabrication capabilities…and policies, regulations, services, even ethical dilemmas: What if you can manufacture a gun (or worse) in your own home?? Uh oh. Big issues!

** An emerging “Internet of things”: Sensors are increasingly everywhere, with the ability to message remotely from inanimate objects, trigger actions based upon conditions (all programmed simply by using a website or mobile app). Truly things are now talking to us, and the Internet is becoming embedded in ordinary objects. Large industrial giants are looking deeply into this!

** Robotics. Always a notable area, but beyond just the consumer-friendly Roomba, we’re starting to see rise of new kinds of robots which are almost appliance-like and a personable fit for human interaction in the office or hospital. Is a Jetsons’ style maid far behind?? The interaction and user experience dimensions will be paramount. Also: robots are not just anthropometric in appearance, but could be your car.

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