News, News and more news. The convergence of Fashion and Technology started way back in 2014, and the news never stops pouring in. An interesting fusion of Materials, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Electronics, Human Intelligence and Biometrics, this industry transforms and takes design to a completely new pedestal.
Always the news-maker; and now categorized to creative technology, UI/UX Design of Wearables is a matured discipline today.
Interesting announcements for products launched or prototypes proposed have made it to the headlines all through 2014 and early 2015.
- Android Wear based Smart Watches keep coming in every other day
- Apple Watch announced with a bang creates a furor
- Mondaine launches Swiss made Smart Watch with analogue face
- Sony launches an Augmented Reality eye-wear Smart Eyeglass
- Google Decides to put in more research into Google Glass and withdraws sales temporarily to improvise
- Montblanc debuts for the wearable by adding a smart band to its analogue watch straps
- Apple wins patent approval for wireless virtuality headset, which would probably mount the iPhone in front of the eyes to augment
The Challenges for this unique User Experience
The designers metamorphose their design from a simple traditional web or a mobile design to offer a completely new User Experience with the wearables design. This new discipline is in fact creating a design that amalgamates the use of the wearables with the other devices the wearable is likely to interact with, typically the smartphones and the tablets.
Wearables present challenges unlike other traditional design projects. It would require designing of an amazing user experience which is appealing and at the same time minimalistic. Unconventional hardware features like vibration, voice controls and connectivity need to be blended in into a completely different User Experience. Smart Designing ideas are the call of the day for the design of the apps that run on the wearables.
Interesting apps could become more accessible and hence usable on the wearable devices as we would be constantly wearing them, rather than fetching and using them. A thoughtful approach at the onset of the product design of the wearables helps in combating the challenges for this completely different design focus.
The User Interface & Gestures
The user interactions are made quite simple and the meaning of gestures are all set to change. Moving on from pinch, swipe, tap to the new gestures round the block are Force Touch & Taptic Technology. The smart notifications for the Wearables are again based on human senses since the screen space is less, or none (like the health bands) the use of fingers is limited to minimal.
A single small display cluttered up with yet smaller visuals might put off the user. The UIs can be swipable multiple screens. Better design approach is achieved when the Wearables become accessories of larger devices like phones and tablets and the UX itself encompasses a family of devices, large and small rather than remain limited to a single device alone.
The need of a Harmonious UI/UX
Since the UX migrates from one device to another and back and forth, the UIs should be harmonious with each other. The colors, the elements and the gestures should exhibit consistency across devices to allow seamless switching between the wearables and the smart phones or tablets.
Actions being done while using the device
The uniqueness of the Wearables is that the user would definitely be on the move while using them and the UI and UX design should be actions based. The user could be cycling, running, walking or even driving while the UX unfolds. Audio based inputs and outputs might be more suitable for this design rather than video or text.
The Environment of the User
Notifications and alerts need to be a bit different for a wearable. Since the user is constantly on the move, he could be in an extremely noisy surroundings or in a silent zone.
In any case, it makes more sense to have personal notifications like tap, vibrate or buzz.
Designing Newer and Newer Wearables
With innovative ideas hitting the market every other season, the Wearables are the most discussed and probably the most researched amongst the technologies today. Revolutionizing what we wear, how we wear and why we wear it at all, this design technique puts a lot of onus on the designers and the engineers to work in tandem to each other to offer smart, novel, useful devices exhibiting style and purpose thus enticing the users.
Ingenious thinking and purposeful technology coupled with intuitive designs is going to take the wearables to the unknown and the unheard of. Smart Watches need no introduction and we are already talking of contact lenses, eyewear, fitness bands and many more that are in the pipeline.
Activity trackers, guides, diabetics monitors for insulin levels, music controls, QR code scanning, or replying to a text message with voice or digital information conversion with glasses over natural field of vision are only a few of the commonly known tasks implemented on wearables. An open mind and a broader vision is bound to include more such tasks into the portfolio.
User Experience – Driving the Wearables
User expectations and imaginations are very important issues to be considered in designing the UX; making it a combination of art, technology, psychology and cognitive sciences.
UI/ UX gives a definite focus to recreate real life experiences enhanced with technology.
A good design team, especially when it comes to designing the UI/UX for the very new wearables, guess the sequence of user interactions between the combinations of devices that the user chooses to use the wearables with, by creating scenarios, predicting navigational preferences and impersonating user behavior.
The insight into the importance and usability of the features to the user of the wearables established thus helps to create a consistent user experience.
A satisfying UX is a good mix of various aspects as in any UI/UX design and also in the design of the wearables.