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UX in IoT

The Internet of Thing (IoT) is accelerating rapidly and bringing with it a wealth of opportunity. Many of us focus on the data and the technology needs of Internet of Things- the sensors, data and the storage, security and analysis of that data, we are already forgetting the people who are interacting with those technologies.

One need not look far to see IoT establishing a beachhead in our lives already. Smart watches and fitness trackers – the Pebble, Android, and Apple watches, Fitbit, Jawbone, Basis bands, and more – are helping us to count our steps and heartbeats, while initiatives like Wally’s smart water leak sensors, Phillips’ Hue smart lighting, Cocoon’s smart home security, and Google’s Nest smart thermostat are hoping to monitor our homes. Self-driving cars have moved from science fiction into newspaper headlines. Google and Apple are developing smart cars, but so too are traditional automobile manufacturers.

IoT promises to improve our civic life as well. It will utilize sensor technology to gain situational awareness and communicate in time of crisis. Companies are exploring the possibilities of utilizing sensor technology to notify us of earthquake, reduce road congestion and better inform our public transportation. What can be done with IoT is amazing, but they don’t function without humans to interact, monitor and respond to them. People wear smart watches, live in those smart homes and want to travel in  smart cars. As we develop smarter things, we’ll have to more smartly research and design them for their human environments.

A user centered approach to these technologies can help ensure users understand both the potential and the risks involved in these emerging technologies. UX research can help designers understand user contexts and perceptions in the IoT. UX is the human touch that helps connect the loop at the point of “thing” and human contact.

Designing for IoT comes with a bunch of challenges that will be new to designers accustomed to pure digital services. Hoe tricky these challenges prove will depend on:

  • The maturity of the technology we are working with.
  • The context of use or the expectations users have from the system.
  • The complexity of the service.

There are differences between UX for IoT and UX for digital services. It is because of the technology of embedded devices and networking. Even if you are already familiar with embedded device and networking technologies, you might have not considered the way it shapes UX.

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