Wearable Tech—The next frontier of UX.

I remember the first time I saw wearables in technology; it was in 2006 at the SIGGRAPH conference. I was enthralled and enraptured by the ideas of fully integrated technology and I’ve been biting at the bit ever since.

At the time, it was more video performance art then truly useable technology, but just like something out of the Jetsons or Star Trek I could see the potential.

As we move towards technology like Google Glass,  watches, and integrated clothing technology needs to become more invisible and neutral. We are already seeing this in some respects, logos are becoming more universal, Starbucks no longer uses English to display their brand it is just an imagethe universal language.

Icons started this transition and have become the universal symbols of our digital landscape. Just like universal driving signposts, icons are starting to become international; we are quickly moving towards a universal language and patterns, the Internet is the bridge to that occurrence.

But as we consider these minor adjustments what does this mean for big data and content merging into tiny spaces? How will we read the volumes of text on our current webpages when watches become another device to serve too? Will 150px 150 pixels become the new browser wars of the future? Real estate in web has always been our justification for the suppression of print. Well, if you can’t get it on that postcard it’s okay we will put it on the web. But the web is changing and getting smaller, so how does the UX industry prepare for smaller and more integrated devices?

Here are some steps I’ve been thinking about for my own websites:

1.)  Think globally. It is obvious but still something as UXers we need to reinforce in brand meetings and to clients, the world is getting smaller and so are our sphere of influences. I think the Starbucks example is brilliant how can we begin to move towards a universal language in our brands and on the web? Images will be the key to translate our brands across varying devices.

2.)  Real estate will only get tighter, so as I have said in the past prioritizing content is key. Delivery of action-orientated content high on the page will make the next wave of responsive devices easier to manage.

3.)  The responsive thought process will continue to become more dominant. Can we leverage responsive in non-traditional ways, as in Google Glass and watches? I think we will find that serving up data in chunks will be even more important going forward, rethinking data design in a wider path will get more complex so being able to pull content apart and segment per device will be key.

4.)  Concise and consistent will be a new theme, the elevator pitch of web technologies are here let’s embrace it, but be thoughtful about it. What would work on HD will now be a challenge when talking about a few hundred pixels in either direction. But a relationship between all the devices as a family will become the new online branding opportunity.

5.)  Be excited, the next wave of our industry is on the cusp, not being afraid of trying new things is why we all started down this road just a mere 15 years ago, look how far we have come already.

So UXERS what are your thoughts on wearables and how it will impact the future of UX design?


I don’t claim to be an expert in grammar and spelling, but I try. Thanks for being gracious.

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