Internet of Things (IoT) and User Experience

Internet of Things (IoT) and User Experience


When I talk with other UX people about the
Internet of Things our conversations lean toward our Amazon Alexa and how our other
home devices like our Philips light switches and SimpliSafe alarm systems are hard to set
up, and cumbersome to talk with. What we don’t discuss are some of the bigger
picture issues that are coming to life, and the opportunities that exist in enterprises
for UX people to make a better, greater impact. Today, companies are using the IoT to save
lives and money. A paper company installs sensors along a production
line that’s a kilometer long. These collect data about performance and suggest
preventative maintenance. A supermarket chain installs sensors with
their produce to keep food safe and fresh, and automatically replaces it when it’s
not. A city offers kennels on Main Street so citizens
can safely and comfortably house their pets while they spend money at local businesses. These examples represent just the tip of the
iceberg, and no UX people were involved in any of them. The Internet of Things space is maturing without us,
and the leaders are technologists and business people. And that world is complicated. For example, partnerships and collaboration
between organizations is necessary for the Internet of Things to work. But huge vendors like T-Mobile, Amazon, SAS,
and tiny start-ups alike (doing everything from health sensors to semiconductors) all
talking about their own IoT development kits. There is s disconnect between the necessary
collaboration and competition. Another issue: Smart is a central theme of
the internet of things but everyone doesn’t agree on what it means; and it could be very
different for the enterprise, industry, cities, businesses, homes, and individuals. What we do know about “smart” is that
it often encompasses all or just one of these elements: Data input: for example, voice;
or sensors that may or may not have a user interface. Data collection & analysis: Big data through some
network connection, which could be wireless or not. Analysis of big data: which may or may not
include machine learning. Security & Privacy, because there are unimaginable
security concerns, and just as many privacy considerations that need to be addressed. Communication and visualizing insights: This
is the output of data to someone or multiple people or computers. These outputs are often controlled through
dashboards and apps which, from the few I have seen, do not follow even the most basic
UI principles. UX involvement is needed for strategy, and
designs of: sensors, dashboards, enterprise apps, methods for finding and joining those
apps, voice, alerts, and notifications; to name a few areas. The Internet of Things is posing probably
the most intricate and complex UX challenges that we have ever seen. But opportunities abound for UX to guide and
make a better Internet of Things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *