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New Frontiers for UX Design: Designing for New Devices

Thanks to technological evolution, wearable devices, smart home systems, and innovative industrial interfaces are increasingly widespread and interconnected. Let’s discover what challenges and best practices will be for the UX Design of new devices.

17 April 2024
  • UX
  • UX Design

Team Conflux

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17 April 2024
  • UX
  • UX Design

From smartwatches that monitor every heartbeat to home automation systems that transform houses into smart homes, people are constantly moving between devices to manage their daily lives.
What they expect is to find a similar experience at every device switch, and generally, to always experience an intuitive, personalized, and satisfying user experience.

In this article, we will present an overview of new technological devices and the peculiarities of their interfaces; we will see what kind of challenges they pose for UX Design, what are the best practices for designing an optimal user experience on new devices, and how artificial intelligence can support and optimize the design process.

Overview of UX Design on New Technologies and Interfaces

Beyond traditional desktop and mobile screens, a myriad of new devices is emerging, revolutionizing the way we interact with technology and our expectations in the experience with it.

UX Design for Wearable Devices

Wearable devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their ability to offer advanced features in a compact format, from monitoring physical activity to managing notifications.
According to statistics, the wearable device sector is constantly growing, with a significant increase in sales over the last few years. For example, global revenue from smartwatches will steadily increase between 2023 and 2028 to a total of 18.3 billion dollars, i.e., a growth of +41.45% (source: Statista).

In addition to smartwatches and fitness trackers, there is also increasing talk of other wearable devices, such as smart glasses used for navigation, language translation, and communication; and smart rings that can be integrated with other smart devices, with which to make payments and monitor health.

The design of interfaces for these devices must take into account the small screen sizes and new possibilities for unconventional human-machine interaction, such as voice commands, intuitive gestures, and tactile feedback.

UX Design for Home Automation and Smart Homes

Interfaces for home management are evolving, moving from simple buttons to more complex multifunctional touch displays, and introducing voice control systems and gesture-based interfaces for a more intuitive and customizable control of the home.

The IoT (Internet of Things) allows for the connection and control of an endless number of devices within a building or apartment. We’re talking about integrated systems that control lighting, temperature, security, and other home automation devices with a single interface. In this case, the use of touch displays, voice commands, and gestures offers a more intuitive and customizable experience.

UX Design for Industrial Machinery Interfaces

User interfaces for professional environments are becoming more intuitive and are supported by durable displays, to ensure efficient and safe interaction with machinery and industrial systems.

An example is touch-free interfaces, which allow control of some industrial robots through gestures or voice commands for safer interaction in work environments. Other cases may include augmented reality systems for maintenance, which provide real-time information and instructions for the repair and maintenance of even complex machinery; or the real-time monitoring of data and parameters on touch displays.

Finally, wearable devices can be used for warehouse management and product traceability, to improve logistics.

Best UX Practices for New Interfaces

Designing an optimal user experience for these new devices requires a human-centered approach and specific UX and UI solutions for this type of technological tool. The goal is to integrate them naturally and pleasantly into people’s daily lives, making the usage experience intuitive and satisfying.

Understanding the User and the Context of Use

UX Research and context analysis are important to identify the characteristics and needs of users and the usage scenarios of the device.
Interfaces must be usable under different conditions, including outdoors, in industrial environments, on the move, or in emergencies.

For example, smartwatches and fitness trackers are often used while walking or performing sports activities, requiring a design that minimizes distractions and input errors and maximizes efficiency. For home automation devices, ease of use becomes relevant, as users might interact with these systems in moments of hurry or stress.

Simplicity and Clarity

With smaller screens and diverse contexts of use, simplicity is essential. Every interface element must have a clear purpose and positively contribute to the overall user experience. Reducing visual clutter and focusing on what is essential can significantly improve usability and interface effectiveness.

Priority of Information – In a device like a smartwatch, the limited screen space requires that only the most relevant information be presented to the user. This principle of priority keeps the interface simple and direct, and forces designers to clarify what elements are essential.

Visual and Functional Clarity – Designing interfaces for smart home systems and IoT must ensure that users can easily understand the system’s status and how to interact with it, reducing visual complexity and increasing usability even in stressful or emergencies.

Intuitive Interaction

Gesture, touch e comandi vocali – Permettono all’utente di muoversi attraverso le funzioni dell’apparecchio, senza la necessità di guardare lo schermo. Per esempio, gli smartwatch richiedono interazioni che siano facili e veloci da eseguire anche in movimento, tramite un comando vocale o un semplice gesto. In addition to visual and auditory feedback, tactile feedback and intuitive gestures are important for confirming actions without diverting the user’s attention. They must be intuitive and natural, reducing the learning curve and improving the effectiveness of interaction.

Immediate Feedback – Provides users with confirmation that their actions have been recognized. In wearables, tactile feedback, such as a light vibration, can confirm user input without the need for readable notifications.
In smart homes, visual or auditory feedback can reassure users that a voice command has been understood and executed. The design of interfaces must carefully consider the type of feedback most suitable for the context of use.

Gestures, Touch, and Voice Commands – Allow the user to navigate through the device’s functions without the need to look at the screen. For example, smartwatches require interactions that are easy and quick to perform even on the move, through a voice command or a simple gesture.

Personalization and Adaptability

Users appreciate when technology adapts to them and their context. Personalization, based on behaviors, preferences, and contextual data, can transform a standard user experience into a hyper-personalized and meaningful one.

Through machine learning, systems can adapt to user habits and preferences. Meanwhile, user configuration allows choosing notifications and themes on a smartwatch or setting up personalized scenarios in a smart home

Designing for Small Screens First

For the development of website and web application designs, a mobile-first approach is established, which assumes that design starts by first considering smartphone interfaces, i.e., the smallest screens. This same principle is also useful in the design of all new devices, where it is necessary to maintain consistency in the user experience, even when transitioning from a smartwatch to a desktop screen.

Example of UX Design for a Wearable

Let’s imagine designing the interface for a smartwatch. We find ourselves in a peculiar design context, which has some limitations, but also allows us to exploit types of interaction and feedback not available in other devices.

During the design process, we will need to consider:

  • small screen: we must focus on the essential elements, that is, identify the content that is useful and a priority for the user in their context of use;
  • micro-interactions: these are preferred for the most common actions, they also provide clear and immediate feedback to the user, decreasing the need for other types of feedback, such as textual notifications;
  • gestures: we can use specific wrist or arm movements to navigate the interface and control the smartwatch functions, ensuring that the gestures propose natural movements or are easily learnable for the human body;
  • voice commands: we can implement voice commands to activate specific functions or to interact with a virtual assistant, freeing the user from the need to act through screen touches;
  • data privacy: we must ensure user privacy by protecting the data collected by the smartwatch and allowing users to customize its visibility on the screen.

Optimizing User Interfaces with AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can contribute to improving the user experience (UX) in several ways.

  • Machine learning for personalization – AI can adapt the user experience based on past interactions and user preferences.
  • Optimizing prototyping and user testing processes – By analyzing data collected during usability tests, AI can identify patterns and trends in user behavior, suggesting changes and improvements to the design in a more efficient and targeted way.
  • Voice assistants and chatbots – The integration of AI-supported virtual assistants can improve interaction with devices, offering more natural and intuitive control.

A Challenging Future for UX Design

What emerges is a landscape in which UX researchers and UX designers will need to devise innovative solutions and approaches to keep the user experience fluid and consistent across the interfaces of very different and continually evolving devices.

The challenge will be to keep pace with emerging technologies and trends, continuing to put people at the center of every design process.

As interfaces become more intuitive, personalized, and intelligent, we can expect a scenario in which technology harmoniously blends with daily life, enriching it without overburdening it.

At Conflux, we have a team of UX designers and UX researchers always up-to-date on the latest trends in the user experience design sector. Our UX Agency can stand by your side to create or improve your product or service, realizing an intuitive, fluid, and satisfying user experience for your customers.

Contact us for a consultation.

  • UX
  • UX Design

Team Conflux

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