What an exciting time to be alive – gadgets that only existed in Sci-Fi movies are slowly creeping into our everyday reality, revolutionizing the way we experience the world.
Technological innovation is never static, and there is always something new and exciting on the horizon. Virtual Reality is once again taking the world by storm and promises to become more than just a gaming gadget, our mode of transportation is well overdue for an update and telepathy is back on the table. Sounds surreal, right? Well, below you will find a list of 5 fantastic, yet very real, experience products that are slowly bringing magic into our lives and are completely changing the way we live, learn and entertain.
Virtual reality (VR) is once again on the rise, steadily making its way back to our wish lists and it’s all because of Oculus. With an incredible attention to detail and an absolute user-in-mind attitude, Oculus is king of VR. A 17-year-old wiz-kid Palmer Luckey has created the most exciting VR prototype yet, and Mark Zuckerberg could not resist its potential. In 2014, the two creators joined forces and put the finished product on the market in 2016. The advanced display technology coupled with its low-latency constellation tracking system enables the sensation of presence. The feeling of actually being there can help users immerse themselves in a game, hop to the other side of the world or just hang out with friends.
Both innovators envision VR taking root in our lives, not just our entertainment. Possible applications of VR are exciting – anything from health care to teaching and learning. The most affordable VR headset yet will set you back less than $1000 for the kit or opt for a $200 Samsung headset Oculus helped to design and build. It may take some time, but VR is here to stay and reshape the way we live our lives forever.
As a piece of technology that removes the interface layer between a user and the design, Oculus is a gadget that has the capacity to trigger emotional responses and deliver a brain-tricking user experience. Here’s a technology that is so intuitive that it practically bypasses conscious thought.
Think of the most mind-bending, exciting and unnerving way you could travel. Imagine hopping in a pod and shooting through a tube from Helsinki to Tallinn in 8 minutes, for the price of a bus ticket. I can hear the hinges grinding in your mind, struggling to believe it and filing it under ‘impossible.’ Well, it’s possible, and it’s happening faster than you think.
Hyperloop was launched in a Los Angeles garage in 2014 by a group of driven designers, mechanics and engineers to develop a new way to travel. Now, a strong team of 200 across three campuses in the USA, they set out to create broadband for transportation. The exciting new mode of transportation via a levitated pod in a low pressurized tube will revolutionize how we travel forever. They already tested their custom electric motor in May 2016 and will test the full system in early 2017. The team is developing routes in 5 countries and aim to start moving cargo by 2020 and passengers by 2021.
As this is yet to be designed, we can only speculate what the user experience will be like traveling with Hyperloop. There are many pain points to consider and designers must focus on human-centred design to secure long-term success. User designers face questions such as whether there will be bathrooms? Customer service inside the pods? Should it be traveling at 760 mph? What the station will look like and so on.
Hands down the most secretive, yet most widely speculated piece of artificial reality technology to date. Unlike a VR set, the goggles created by Magic Leap are semi-transparent, which allows you to see your real surroundings while also seeing artificial creations. See and experience elaborate simulations without a hint of a pixel out of place in your everyday surroundings. This mixed-reality headset is reshaping the tech world, massive companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are pouring millions of dollars into developing the next big thing, and Magic Leap is already years ahead. Although around $1.4 billion has been already invested in this low-key tech giant, they have not yet released a Beta version for users to experience. Once this piece of technology is tamed and designed to the finest detail, the possibilities it brings with it are out of this world. The internet of information will become the internet of experience, and the way we live, learn and entertain will never be the same.
The difficulty with MR is that it’s a fairly new technology and it’s important to figure out how it’s different from VR. User experience designers should adopt a ‘user first’ mentality, which must enhance users’ lives and not detract from it, the experience should feel organic and intuitive. The greatest challenge is to figure out how this new technology will fit into people’s lives and how to encourage adoption.
The newest ambition Neuralink from Elon Musk evokes excitement in some and drives fear in others. The freshly baked company launched in March 2017 is yet to make a mark in the tech world. Musk is on a mission to use brain implants to connect human brains to computers. Neuralink has set out to “augment the slow, imprecise communication of our voices with a direct brain-to-computer link-up” which would essentially allow telepathy between humans and take artificial intelligence (AI) to another level. Essentially, Neuralink will work on taking cloud-based AI into an extension to the human brain. In the next four years, we can expect to see Musk bring a piece of technology in the shape of a ‘wiz hat’ onto the market that will help people with severe brain injuries communicate once more.
There are many hurdles user experience designers will have to jump over before this hits the market. Testing and prototyping will be extremely difficult because the target market is so specific. User expectations will be extremely high as the purpose of the gadget is to replace a certain functionality of the brain, and so the designers must consider the emotional impact this will have on the early adopters.
The introduction of Apple AirPods was both exciting and alarming – many struggled to deal with the loss of an earphone port on the new iPhone and others could not contain their excitement to say good riddance wires!
AirPods are essentially a computer for your ears, and it delivers beautifully. As soon as they come out of the box, your iPhone automatically asks to connect once, and after that, it will automatically connect every time the AirPods are near your device. Take one AirPod out and the music pauses, double tap the headphone and Siri scrambles to life to do your bidding. Unlike other Bluetooth headsets, the AirPods don’t have any buttons, but Siri is always at the ready to skip a song or tune the volume to your liking. Apple’s user-in-mind mantra is clearly visible in the incredibly convenient design. The inbuilt microphone is excellent and the automatic noise cancelling technology will deliver one of the best hands-free experiences yet. The user experience is at the heart of this latest invention from Apple and the secret to their success lies in designing products are appealing to use.
What’s Next in UX Design?
Innovation never stops and we can only dream of what might be possible in the future. One thing is clear – technology is here to stay and our lives are about to become more intertwined with it than ever before.
As the world is becoming more connected and better informed, we are on the verge of being able to experience things through VR and MR that might never have been possible otherwise. Hyperloop is introducing a new mode of transportation and Elon Musk is on a mission to connect the human brain with a computer. Suddenly, the world we live in is mirroring the plot of the most exciting Sci-Fi movie and the possibilities that lie ahead could not be more thrilling!
July 18, 2017 at 10:12AM