For over 150 years the primary input method for modern tech has been modeled after the Victorian era typewriter. We still tap at skeuomorphic representations of physical keys on a purely digital interface. But does this make sense for the future of interface design, particularly in the home?
How do we design an interface for the future? GUI’s are here to stay, but I believe they will do so in limited capacity and exist second to voice. A visual interface will serve as a bridge to CUI’s (conversational user interfaces) just as skeuomorphism was necessary to transition people from dial pads to touch screens.
More and more we’re seeing the rise in smart home appliances. This includes light bulbs, shades, sound systems, security cameras, door locks, sensors, and many others. Yet these devices each require a different app where you tap through a series of menus and options just to turn something on or off. The old GUI model is failing.
But it’s the future! Which means telling your home to wake you up at 7am and open the blinds on the non-sunny side of the room while getting your coffee started and the TV set to the morning news shouldn’t have to involve you flipping through 4 apps and countless steps. You should just say it before you go to sleep and the house effortlessly remembers to do it.
From a user interface perspective, your voice is practically invisible and has minimal learning curve. Good user interface designs of the future will inherently eliminate as much of the learning curve as possible by leveraging behaviors that users are already accustomed to. A good CUI will backload all the heavy lifting of tapping through menus, selecting options, and creating rules by understanding natural language, context, and user intent.
So here’s the fun part where we can indulge in the endless possibilities of what’s next. Let’s explore some exciting things of what you can do with a smart home now and in the near future:
We’re taking the first step towards such a future with the creation of Josh, a conversational agent for your home. You can follow our progress in designing a conversational user interface for the home of the future by visiting www.josh.ai.
This post was written by Jason, lead designer at Josh.ai. Previously, Jason led design for web and mobile apps At The Pool and Yeti. He attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Jason loves cold brew coffee, LEGOs, and recreational shooting. You can follow Jason on Instagram at @jas0n_0n_a_bike.