UX design is not a simple job and there are lots of factors to consider. One of the most significant factors to consider is the Zero UI. This is crucial for the future as well as the effectiveness of the UX design. This is the factor that will determine how the UI design will look like once the screens go away.
Without going into the debate whether it is for the better or worse, in these modern times a major part of the UI or UX design is based on the visual content and appeal which in turn determines the success of the design.
This makes a lot of sense because most of the essential items that you see and interact with today have screens. Now an internet of things environs you with sophisticated devices that have a lot of features and abilities. These modern devices can:
- Hear and imitate your words
- Anticipate all your needs and
- Can even sense your gestures.
There are more innovative features to come up which pints out towards one significant thing that is, the future of design depends a lot on the creator as to determine what features to include in it, as and when those screens go away.
Asking for a change
Therefore, it warrants a new archetype of UX design and most of the designers are looking for better alternatives. The primary concern now for any UX design firm is to find out what will be the UX design like when the interfaces will be no longer inhibited by the screens but instead turn to Zero UI. This is the interface that is special and is:
- More automated
- Excessively haptic and
- Have more ambient interfaces.
However, Zero UI is actually not a new idea. You have already used it, albeit without knowing, in Amazon Echo, Microsoft Kinect, or Nest thermostat that is designed based on this Zero UI concept.
Zero UI is all about moving away from the touchscreen. It is the concept of interfacing with modern devices in a more natural way that includes:
- Voice control
- Computer vision and
- Artificial Intelligence.
For all these technologies, Zero UI is the most significant design component because it pertains to the internet of things.
Zero UI effect in changed design
Historically, human beings always had a tendency to work together with machines in a truly abstract and complex manner. Over time, the methods of interaction have become far too less complex, thanks to the development of technology. Now you will find that:
- The punch card is replaced with machine code
- The machine code has been incorporated in the command line and
- Even the command line is transformed into the GUI.
However, in all these instances, machines play the most significant role and force people who use it to come to their terms while using. Typically, people now have to speak their language, machine language.
With the help of Zero UI, humans are stepping on to the future wherein these machines will eventually understand the humans and work on their terms on the contrary. These machines will now respond to the natural behaviors, words, and gestures of the human which is what Zero UI is all about.
Zero UI will represent an entirely new dimension and generation for the designers to literally combat with. The small step of transformation from UI to Zero UI will be ‘a giant leap for mankind.’
Change in approach
The designers now have to make a change in their designing approach to ensure Zero UI design.
- Instead of simply designing a two-dimensional interface where the user is provided with a linear and more predictable workflow like now they will need to think about ways in which the users can do anything in possibly any available workflow.
- The designers now need to build devices, apps, and services non-linearly so that these are able to translate any stream of conscious commands by adjusting to any system. In short, they need to implement a more multi-dimensional thought process.
The interface designers will now have to relay and use more data and AI over and beyond the apps such as Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. They will need an entirely different set of skill sets and tools to do away with the non-linear problems in zero UI design. They will need to design a lot of other things as well such as:
- The databases
- The Lookup tables and
- The Spreadsheets.
Here, the data instead of their intuition will be the most valuable asset of the designers. They will need to have a fair bit of knowledge in science, art, biology, and even psychology apart from technological exuberance to create such devices. These are the things that are usually not required when the designing is constrained by screens.
These will help the designers to design an interface that will understand different gestures that may or may not be for the same purpose. For example, the gesture to turn up the volume of a smart TV or stereo may be radically different from a person who has grown up in the age of analog interfaces to that of a millennial. The Zero UI has to understand that when an imaginary dial is moved up in mid-air or a simple jerk of the thumb up by a millennial is for the same purpose: to up the volume.
- A zero UI will require having access to a lot of interactive and behavioral data apart from the power to process these data and decode them.
- It also means, the interface will need to be more anticipatory, predictive and automatic as devices move away from screens.
The future of Zero UI seems to be very bright but its name should not be taken literally. It is simply a provocation of sorts where it is less a progression of technological advancements but in the way of communicating with the futuristic machines. The end result of it is the computers get embedded in you to make you the next UI.