7 Trends For 2015: How Design + Tech Will Impact Your Life
Today’s landscape of design and technology is impressive, to say the least. 2015 will be a hallmark year as more companies adopt the cloud allowing creatives and technologies to rally together resulting in innovative experiences that are both inspired by science fiction and backed with data.
Here are my predictions for how design will impact your life (and technology) in 2015.
Big Data & Advances in Technology Drive Design Revolution
New opportunities to rethink and redesign digital experiences in the ongoing evolution of digital are fueled by the proliferation of big data and technological developments. From the death of tabbed browsing to Minority Report driven gestural interfaces, here are the key trends in design and technology that are merging to transform digital user experiences.
PREDICTION #1: BOUNDARIES MELT AWAY AS USER INTERFACES BECOME INTEGRATED AND FRICTIONLESS.
Independent apps and websites will merge into more seamless digital experiences.
The end of the blue link is near, as user interfaces become more fluid and intuitive, redefining how users “surf the Web” and interact with mobile applications. Technology partnerships, API integrations, and UI cards are blazing the path towards more frictionless user experiences that are driven by interactive gestures and sleek visuals.
Partnerships for integrations like OpenTable and Yelp are increasing as new companies like Zapierand IFTTT aim to take integration to another level by connecting web apps you use to easily to sync data and automate tedious tasks. According to Paul Adams, VP of Intercom and formerly of Google and Facebook: “The idea of having a screen full of icons, representing independent apps that need to be opened to be experienced is making less and less sense.” In fact, both Android and iOS have adopted interactive notifications, where a user never needs to actually visit an app to complete an action.
Furthermore, Google Now has already adopted UI card design as a means for organizing information in a way that is portable across devices and provides a more seamless experience. More data from devices is also empowering smarter apps. Humin is an app that takes social communication data to provide relevant, contextual information based on mobile contacts, designed to enable serendipitous, location-based interactions.
While in its early stages, new open systems that are interoperable across the web are being created, including Wildcard and Citia. Startups like Vurb, a TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 winner, are challenging current search experiences with the belief that blue links are a web browsing behavior of the past. Contextual search, with Pinterest-like interfaces are now being designed to help avoid the dreaded experience of having 20+ unorganized tabs open within a browser. Expect to see (and appreciate) advances in development, driven by big data, that will revolutionize our current digital experiences.
PREDICTION #2: INCREASED ROLE OF PROTOTYPES AND STORYTELLING IN PRODUCT DECISIONS.
Advanced tools for creating more compelling product roadmaps inspire and guide technology teams.
The inclusion of new technologies within the context of a vivid story has been shown to bridge the gap between current and future possibilities for audiences, allowing them to more deeply understand the potential of advanced technology. The concept of novums, or scientifically plausible innovations in sci-fi narratives, are becoming increasingly important in concept-driven storytelling and prototyping that simultaneously informs and explains new technologies.
The technology of science fiction is sure to become tomorrow’s reality. Qualcomm has partnered with XPRIZE to create a global competition to stimulate innovation and integration of precision diagnostic technologies. This soon-to-be real-life tricorder will help consumers make their own reliable health diagnoses.
While the concept of having storytellers lead product development has long been a focus in design-thinking and user experience design, new technologies such as 3D printing and better free video editing software, enables the design community to have even greater impact. The role of prototypes and storytelling in technology product decisions is increasing, especially as new technologies become more sophisticated and challenging to imagine. The more innovative a new product, theharder it is to explain through simple static images or text. Short movies or 3D prints are driving the trend of engaging audiences through real-life examples with interaction and context.
Coin, a connected device that can combine different credit cards and loyalty cards into one, launched a short but inspiring concept video that has racked up 9 million views on YouTube, which was a major factor in helping it reach $50,000 in funding in just 40 minutes. Matt Jones, Interaction Design Director of Google Creative Labs, discussed the importance of the Google Glass concept video in helping to anchor and unite the product team throughout the engineering process. In fact, concept videos can be thought of as a form of prototyping since the visual narrative can elicit valuable insights through viewers’ feedback and comments.
PREDICTION #3: BIG DATA AND VIDEO ANALYTICS HELP DRIVE CREATIVITY.
More video content means more data for machine-learning that at fuel the online video revolution.
Video content is a vast pool of unexplored, unmined data that can provide fascinating insights into a variety of fields, from security to entertainment. 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. 90% of the world’s data has been created in just the last two years, with 80% of this data taking the form of unstructured data such as video or photos with up to 13ZB (that’s zetabyte) slated to be consumed by end of 2016. As more and more data is created with the advancement of cameras and sensors within smartphones, more unstructured data becomes available for experimentation and research, leading to major strides in computer vision algorithms that can lead to structured insights for video analytics.
According to Dr. Varah, CEO of MotionDSP, “True video analytics involves using computer vision algorithms to analyze video pixels automatically — not only identifying objects in the scene, but also tracking their movements and behavior.” In other words, moving beyond recognition to computationally understanding interaction, composition, and intention within video.
Advanced computer vision and machine-learning can lead to much deeper, sophisticated insights into video content. High-quality videos have the power to increase consumer online shopping by 174%, creating a large incentive for businesses to better understand how to develop optimal videos for driving conversion. Yahoo Labs recently conducted a study of Vine videos to identify characteristics of videos that made them more likely to be rated “creative” by a random sampling of people, ultimately developing an algorithm that was able to predict “creativity”. Clearly, the opportunity for big data to truly advance video analytics provides businesses and governments with a new source of valuable information from which to derive actionable insights for everything from self-driving cars to better commercials.
PREDICTION #4: A BOOM IN DATA SCIENCE AND INTERACTION WITHIN THE CLOUD.
Decreasing costs of storage mean more data is stored and available for real-time analysis and collaboration.
90% of all new data growth in corporate data centers comes from unstructured data, making the cloud an ideal storage solution for data-sharing, data-mining, and interactive collaboration. As the cloud becomes the default storage solution, real-time data analysis and collaboration becomes more sophisticated, accelerating and transforming businesses.
By 2018 78% of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers and annual global cloud IP traffic will reach 6.5 ZB by the end of 2018. One natural byproduct of data becoming stored on the cloud and consequently growing in size is the corresponding increase for the demand to organize and analyze it. Google Cloud Dataflow enables users to create data pipelines for both processing and analyzing data in batch and streaming mode, creating opportunities for live sentiment analysis for brands using public data from sites like Twitter or real-time analysis of security footage for governments.
In addition to real-time analysis of data within the cloud, the cloud will also be able to bring together people in floor-to-ceiling high-definition video collaboration with shared whiteboards, documents and resources, and voice control in augmented interactions. Oblong, started by MIT students, focuses on defining the future of work with Mezzanine, which provides a digital collaborative workspace through the cloud, Minority Report style.
Advancements in Interface and Device Design Lead to More Contextual Digital Experiences
From technology giants like Google to up-and-coming startups, the race to integrate hardware and software to provide smarter, more contextually relevant experiences is on. The advancement of sensor technologies and communication capabilities is driving the growth of the Internet of Things, wearables (selfie-taking drone, anyone?), and new forms of connected hardware in these key trends.
PREDICTION #5: INTERNET OF THINGS MESHES DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL FOR A “SUPER CLASS” OF CONTEXTUAL TECH.
Decrease in costs of sensors contributes to an increase in connected physical objects and a more seamless world.
The Internet of Things is still on the upswing. More sophisticated digital and physical integrations are becoming the norm and, leading to the harvest of more data for even smarter technologies. Most things that can be automated, and at times done better by a machine, will be upgraded, opening up new opportunities for more technology-driven efficiency in everything from manufacturing to housework.
According to Gartner, in 2015, enterprises will spend over $40 billion designing, implementing and operating the Internet of Things. Since 2013, 650 million new physical objects and 10% of automobiles have connected digitally. As sensors, actuators, and communication capabilities of technology continue to advance, embedding technology into everyday items will become more commonplace. Connected objects are expected to reach 50 billion by 2020, or 6.58 connected devices per person.
Combining low-power technologies and increased memory capacity with the open Wi-Fi movement and advanced algorithms, the growth of smart objects from sports gear to crock-pots is accelerating. Tile, Littlebits, and August make it easier to connect different web-services and gadgets to each other over the Internet, with IFTTT acting as a central powerhouse of over 153 channels (and counting) to help users customize commands for seamless cross-channel syncing.
The Internet of Things is evolving so that objects are not only connected, but through their connection, can learn to be “smart” and act ambiently. Google has recently launched the Physical Web to move towards providing interaction on demand, or a truly responsive web, that provides personalized experiences across physical touchpoints to provide digital experiences that arecontextual and environment-aware.
PREDICTION #6: WEARABLE TECH GETS SMARTER, BLURS LINE BETWEEN HUMANS AND DEVICES.
The decreasing barriers between humans and technology through smarter, more responsive wearables.
Siri has been the closest our devices to be personified, with sci-fi rom-com “Her” sparking further conversation about the connection that people now have with their technology. Wearables create an opportunity for devices to become even more integrated into the human experience. Improved sensor and power technology will mean wearables become less obtrusive, and more communicative, fueling this category’s growth.
According to Gartner, smartwatches will exceed popularity of fitness bands in 2015, growing to 21 million sold. As technology advances, wearables will be able to communicate with humans more dynamically, through more direct, immersive haptic feedback, motion, or lighting. Google Now has continued to push responsive wearable tech forward with the integration with the new Google watch, which can provide information exactly when needed as an “intelligent personal assistant”. This “assistant” will evolve to take on more actions as wearable technologies advance and more useful data is collected. Mary Meeker, from KPCB hints at the future of wearables being increasingly environmentally aware with the advancement of sensors and personalization through big data that will drive opportunities for value creation by wearables, especially as the design of these user experiences focuses on providing information seamlessly and beautifully.
At the 2014 Design Driven Innovation Conference at MIT, guest speaker and principal engineer at Intel, Maria Bezaitis discussed devices becoming smart enough to take on human behaviors. A wearable drone that is equipped with a camera to help you take photos when selfies aren’t an option, Nixie can “leave” then “return” to your wrist – boomerang style into the air. Researchers have also been working on a flexible robotic fabric that contains sensors for providing feedback and environmental information as a wearable for astronauts on space missions. As the technology matures, wearables will transition from being overrated, to a natural and necessary part of our lives.
PREDICTION #7: IMMERSIVE STORYTELLING EVOLVES BEYOND COMPUTING INTERFACES.
Design breaks out of rectangle screens to sensory-driven experiences.
From seamless HTML 5 powered looping background videos on websites to startups aiming to create sophisticated augmented reality experiences, visual and sensory-driven storytelling continues to evolve, breaking out of the restraints of current computing interfaces to impact industries from retail to entertainment.
Steps toward making the web more immersive have begun, with web design trends featuring large, immersive background videos, parallax or infinite scrolls and pageless designs. Trends in entertainment will continue to influence web design. The Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers is working on advanced technology to make entertainment more immersive, where tactile or motion data is encoded and broadcasted in sync with compressed audio and video. Oculus has teamed up with Marriott to launch a 4D experience and Samsung to launch Gear VR for an “untethered” experience driven by mobile, opening up opportunities for storytelling and integration across devices. While Google Cardboard shows that fancy technology is not necessary for virtual reality, the role of advanced technology in the creation of new, uncharted territories of fascinating sensory experiences is undeniable.
Magic Leap, a company that recently raised $542M from investors including Google and KPCB, is focused on breaking out of “rectangle fetishism” with Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal™, a technology that generates images indistinguishable from real objects and can be “placed” into the real world. Advanced technologies and potential integrations with mobile and web will continue to revolutionize interaction possibilities for industries from fashion to education.
Originally written for Digital Telepathy's design blog, Betterment.