DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION – CHALLENGES IN DEVICE INTERFACES
Digital transformation isn’t just for your software products. It also encompasses your hardware products. Modern hardware devices need to offer excellent user experience (UX), which is integral to real customer experiences. Your goal is to enable customers to achieve their objectives, while using your device, easily, efficiently, consistently, intuitively and pleasantly.
Your existing hardware products with traditionally designed, proprietary, fixed interface panels require a digital transformation, if they need to be accessed by users through portable devices like mobiles and tablets, in addition to desktops. While your newer hardware devices need to be developed with modern user interface, to offer better customer experience.
Creating user interfaces for digitally connected hardware devices involves a significant shift in approach and skills.
The proprietary interface panels of several hardware devices have not evolved a great deal, and presently offer limited functionality and a bland user experience.
Technology advances are expanding possibilities for interaction with devices. Hardware, software and user experience are evolving and becoming complex. Connectivity and real-time data transfer are also influencing the role of the user interface.
With several changes, the device user interface challenge is the delivery of complexity as simply as possible, enabling immersive user experiences and rich functionality at lower costs.
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION – TRENDS IN MODERN DEVICE INTERFACES
Digital transformation has impacted device interfaces of hardware products in multiple ways. Punching buttons or typing is evolving to touch. Traditional, fixed interfaces and device-specific remote controls are giving way to smart front panels with remote provisioning, installation and de-installation of apps. Another trend is the portable methods of device user interfaces via apps on ubiquitous smartphones and tablets.
With the advancements in artificial intelligence, speech recognition, and computing power, there is a prediction that “no interface” will be the core technology of the future.
Natural User Interface (NUI) allows users to quickly immerse themselves in applications and control with minimum learning. Newer forms of interaction are emerging such as:
- Facial and emotion recognition
- Voice profile, speech recognition, and conversable AI
- Hand gesture recognition and tracking
- Body pose recognition and tracking
- Iris recognition, Eye tracking, and Gaze control
- Multi-user touch interfaces
Digital transformation will continue to drive further changes in device interfaces. In the future, we are likely to see the advanced haptic interface where force and sensations are used as inputs and Brain-Computer interface wherein electrical activity in the brain is encoded as input for a digital interface.
PRODUCT ENGINEERING SERVICES FOR MODERN DEVICE INTERFACES
At Celstream, with nearly two decades of experience in delivering product engineering services for diverse and complex products and apps, we understand what it takes to implement modern device interfaces for your hardware products, as part of your digital transformation strategy.
Our product engineering services teams with experience in UX can implement modern interfaces for your hardware products.
Android-based Smart Panels
We can develop smart panels for your devices that can incorporate existing device interface functionality, configuration and settings. The smart panels can leverage cloud services to increase functionality over the default equipment feature-set even after shipment, through remote provisioning, installation and de-installation of an application set as and when required. They can also access already-developed Android™ apps, which can be resident on the front panel or hosted on a remote cloud. Celstream can enable customization to dynamically transform your device capability to address industry-specific application requirements. With cloud integration, we can also incorporate parts/consumables fulfillment, remote device management, service support and intelligent job management in the smart panel.
Mobile Front Panel Apps
Celstream can reduce the fixed, front panel functionality resident on the device to a mobile, front panel app running on smartphones and tablets, eliminating the device’s front panel hardware. Users in proximity of the devices can operate them directly from the front panel app on their smartphones and tablets. The result is a consistent user interface at lower cost and the convenient ability to interface with your entire product range, independent of specific device hardware.
Voice User Interface (VUI)
We can develop voice user interface (VUI) leveraging speech recognition technology to allow users to interact with devices through voice commands. To add VUI capability to your device, one has to design and implement natural conversational experience between a user and the device. While building this capability on a device is also a possibility, Virtual Assistants like Apple® Siri®, Amazon® Alexa®, Google Assistant®, and Microsoft Cortana® are the most popular intermediaries in the market today. Some of these require proprietary hardware whereas others work through mobile apps. While these virtual assistants provide the basic capability, in order to make them interface with your devices, we need to add custom capability referred as Skills (Alexa and Cortana) and Actions (Google Assistant). Building such custom skills and actions is a two-step process.
First, a conversation design is created defining the overall structure of VUI using flow diagrams i.e., how the conversation flows between topics, tone, style, and persona. And then we translate these designs into skills and actions which comprises intent, entities, utterances, webhooks and other integration. Celstream has the capability to design as well as implement VUIs under one roof that enables us to quickly deliver VUI experiences to our customers. We have expertise in designing VUI flows, Alexa and Cortana Skills development, Google Actions development, building Apple Intents App Extensions, implementing AWS Lambda™, Google Webhooks, Google API.AI Platform and Dialogflow™, Apple SiriKit™, integration with external services, and submission of Skills and Actions for publishing.
Gesture recognition is increasingly encountered in discussions of human-computer interaction. Human gestures are undoubtedly natural, more efficient and powerful when compared to other traditional means of interaction. Gesture recognition is already part of gaming consoles and are now penetrating consumer devices. They are enabled by embedding low-cost MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) sensors into devices. Traditional camera and microphone interfaces are also used in few cases. Celstream can integrate popular libraries into your embedded devices, which can detect gestures like Flip, Light, Orient, Proximity, Shake, Wave, Wrist twist, Movement, Sound level, Pinch Scale, and different touch types.