The fourth industrial revolution has been introduced: The time has come for the interface and user-friendly communication between man, machine and product

Sound familiar? For almost any of your electronic devices you need a separate remote control, and one is more complicated than the other. It may well take an hour until you have read the instructions for such a remote, only to find out that you still haven’t understood how to use all the functions or what the individual buttons are used for.

This is no different in the fields of industry or medicine. Looking at the development of user interfaces in the last few years I notice how difficult and complex their visual appearance still is. Without lengthy introduction and precise explanations a smooth operation is hardly possible.

Last year, Gumbrecht Communication had the opportunity to participate in a large web-based service project. We were soon able to implement various optimisations that substantially improved processes and understandability. You will find more information on this page soon. To offer you a brief preview at this point: These little adjustments alone are very promising because there sure is an easier and more user-friendly way!

Virtual reality, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 — those are the keywords of our time. They shape our future. And who wouldn’t be fascinated by the speed at which the technology that surrounds us is changing and further developing. And, above all, how quickly we can and will adapt to change.

However, time and again I notice these highly complex, grey user interfaces that can hardly be operated without previous instruction. For this reason and to learn more about this I watched several tutorial videos about robotics and robot control. You may now point out (and quite rightly so) that I hold a degree in design and I am therefore not an expert. However, given the technological and digital changes in our future work environment I think a machine should in principle be operable by anyone.

In my research and reading the daily press I came across an article about KUKA AG. The topics covered included: Industry 4.0, factories and workplaces of the future, the interconnectedness of the economy, operation of robots, apps, app stores, virtual services etc.

This gave rise to the idea of creating an intuitive user interface that, on the basis of concept and visual appearance, makes it very easy to operate a robot. It’s definitely the right time!

Intuitive Operation The robot control uses elements that are easy to comprehend and operate, e.g. by sliding and clicking.

With this in mind, Gumbrecht Communication launched the hypothetical side project “KUKA Concept User Interface”*. We managed to develop a first concept for robot control and operation — without being briefed on the matter and on a very tight schedule, but with intensive research.

We aim to show that operation can be drastically simplified and made more attractive (and therefore more user-friendly) by introducing specific object graphics and shorter click paths.

Visual Guidance An easy-to-understand visualisation of the plant allows for a simple and clear selection. Events may be indicated already at the start by switching on or switching off various filters. With only a few clicks, you will quickly reach the desired objective via a self-explanatory navigation path.
Robot Dashboard As every robot has a dashboard of its own, a quick overview regarding its technical data and sound condition can be guaranteed.

Furthermore, we should consider whether access to operations using conventional buttons (such as those on websites or apps) shouldn’t be replaced by the use of, for example, augmented reality. This would make direct adaptations and operation by virtual click possible.

Future Operation Operation via the tablet’s camera is also feasible. The robot is identified by a barcode and can be controlled, adjusted and programmed smoothly by means of gestures and clicks.

The use of chatbots is another possible approach, at any rate imaginable for services, but also for the direct operation of robots.

This brings me back to my starting point: remote controls. With this project, we would like to draw attention to the fact that current high tech developments and innovations should always include a smooth operability.

*All images and logos used are subject to the copyright of KUKA AG.

Full Case study on Behance: https://www.behance.net/gallery/40444743/KUKA-Interface-Concept

Originally published at gu-co.de on July 21, 2016.