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Let's stay digital – but get physical

By  Ellinor Olmarken & Jenny Fernvik

Since the evolution of digitalization, the physical world has been rather separated from the creation of digital experiences. But this era is coming to an end, and not that slowly. The upcoming trend to connect digital and physical and deliver a seamless product or service will demand changes.

The worlds of digital and physical are quickly merging

By 2020, industry experts estimate that more than 50 billion physical objects will be connected to the Internet. This is what is called the Internet of Things (IoT). So now is the time to change the focus from not only digital, but to digital and physical or sensory experiences. Instead of creating interaction experiences only with digital devices in mind, the experience design work will also have to cover a physical layer.

With the IoT – having billions of physical objects connected to the Internet consuming, generating, and communicating data – companies will have many more possibilities to create and offer services around a product. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Logistics companies can use sensor data to notify customers when a package will arrive.
  • Retailers can use contextual information – such as how consumers click through a website or walk through a store – to see what attracts and repels potential buyers.
  • Entertainment establishments can use wearable technology such as wristbands to monitor waiting times and offer discounts to related activities.
  • Pharmacists can provide their customer with wearable devices recognize when the person’s blood sugar levels drop. With real-time data from the device, the pharmacist can contact the patient’s physician or give advice about how to adjust the next insulin injection.
  • Rapid insight and response can also provide opportunities to improve the overall customer journey, which could be very useful in the travel business. Imagine an airline that recognizes a flight delay and instantly offers frustrated travellers free Wi-Fi service on the flight itself. Or a coffee shop at the train station that texts nearby commuters with an offer to prepare their favourite beverage.

For many customers, a huge part of the user experience is based on how they feel they are being treated. Some would even pay more for a better experience. IoT-based insights can help you communicate more effectively with your target groups, better understand their needs or desires, and create personalized messages that can quell frustration and reward loyalty.

Gather knowledge to stay ahead of the game

This will require changes for brands and organisations when it comes to both product/service development and company structure.

A digital user interface for an IoT application will need to be clean, intuitive, and fast. All the standard usability best practices will be brought to bear when designing the interface, including meaningful feedback, a logical flow, and good user assistance. And not to forget that many, perhaps most usage situations will involve mobile devices.

Digital experts and designers will need to acquire greater knowledge in physical experience design, and how to connect it to a digital strategy. New physical and digital design capabilities may be needed in-house and closer collaboration between physical and digital design specialists will become a necessity for all parts.

Here are a couple of things you can do to get started:

 

For more information on how we can help you with user experience design, contact Jenny Fernvik at jenny.fernvik@comprend.com.

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