Magical UX and the Internet of Things

Josh Clark’s keynote on on how myth and magic provide design templates for IoT


This is part of a series of notes from from YOW! Connected conference where leading experts presents their thoughts on all things mobile and IoT.


Josh started the day with a story of an airport trying to reduce passenger’s complaints on the long wait for baggage. When the waiting time was reduced by 15% the complaints still come in steadily. It was then the architect suggested detouring the passenger so that it takes them longer to reach the baggage claim area — and voilà — complaint rate dropped drastically. Give people something to do for good UX. Your users hate waiting, so create an illusion of purpose.

Last 30 years human interacted with computers through keyboard and mouse, then touch interface changed things in big way. Now sensor based interaction are new ways to interact directly with our environment.

The UX of connected devices should build on the natural physical interactions we have everyday with the world around us. To quote Alan Kay “One goal: the computer disappears into the environment.” Designing for IoT is less a challenge of technology than imagination when ANYTHING can be an interface. Even mirror.

TryOn smart mirror let shopper try on different clothes without multiple trips to the fitting room.

Transform intent into action. Remove abstraction.

All interface is an illusion or another layer of abstraction of whats going on in our computer. The smart phones are the first IoT for everyone. Everyday object embedded with sensors, smarts, connected to the internet. Available at the point of inspiration.

Designing for the the edge cases. Elevator degrades into staircase

Wayfindr System and Bluetooth beacons helps vision impaired people find their way around the London Tube. The service works by helping users transition seamlessly and independently between different modes of public transport.

What went wrong with google glass? Designers need to design for a thing’s thingness. The goal is to improve the thing’s function by tapping into users innate knowledge of how things work. Design for preattention, sort of like how smart watch glances work. Weaving data into environment in an unimposing manner.

Takeaway from the talk: Magic or IoT is not about things. It’s about amplifying our humanity.

If you are interested in Josh’s slides, he has kindly made it available on SlideShare via link below:

Josh’s slides: slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/1W1S7CXPFQgm7B
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