The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection via the Internet of computer-based systems embedded in devices and physical objects which enables these things to connect and exchange data over a network without requiring human-to-computer interaction, thus increasing the opportunities for integration of the real world into computing devices.
As the application of the Internet of Things grows, space will demand new technology and principles that will have an extensive impact on businesses, organizations, and society at large. As this new technology becomes increasingly prevalent, it is important for businesses to be prepared to design IoT devices in a way that consumers will appreciate.
Principles for Designing the Internet of Things
Here are some of the essential principles to be aware of when it comes to designing the Internet of Things.
1. Creation of contextual experiences
Internet of Things devices will undergo mass adoption by consumers when they understand how devices within this field can be beneficial to them and can be easily integrated into their lives. When creating experiences inside the Internet of Things, designers should go beyond just personalizing them, but presenting them within a context for users’ real lives. Context makes the experiences more meaningful and valuable by showing the purpose and timeliness of the IoT product. Consumers need to grasp exactly how the IoT device can help them when they need it, and how it can adapt to their needs, and eventually, these devices will become fully incorporated into the everyday lives and actions of people.
Many consumers are wary of IoT tools, mostly due to security and privacy concerns. So, one of the main goals in IoT design should be to build trust between the company, the device, and the customer. Whenever a new solution is placed in a real-world context, anything can go wrong and the consequences could be serious. Trust can only be built slowly over time by ensuring that human interaction with the company’s product or service adds to the level of trust. Companies must also understand and plan for situations where errors might occur while aiming to prevent mistakes from happening. When such errors occur, the company must notify the victims and help them recover from the incident. When developing a service or product, data security and privacy considerations must be recalled. Users need to feel and know that they and their private data isn’t being put at risk and that an IoT device isn’t making them vulnerable to hackers.
3. Data management
This ties in part to the previous point, as customers need to know that their information is safe and secure. IoT solutions generate massive amounts of data very easily, but that does not mean a company needs to store all this data. Data needed to improve a solution and make it more useful should be identified and collected. This may require calling in a data scientist as the field (data science) is essential to properly understand, interpret, and manage data, as well as automate certain repetitive decisions. Understanding what data is available, what data is needed, and how data should be used is extremely important when it comes to designing IoT solutions successfully.
4. New user actions
In the old days, when keyboards and mice were first introduced, they really changed how humans interacted with computers. When touch screens were introduced, users began finger-scrolling, swiping, and pinching. Now with the advent of IoT devices, humans are again interacting with digital devices in new ways. Right now, voice is the primary way to interact with many of the home assistant IoT devices, but as is already prevalent with virtual reality headsets, more natural movements may become adopted by users with IoT devices as well. Designers of these solutions need to consider how these methods of interaction are being adopted and how they will affect the ways users expect to interact with non-IoT devices.
5. Focus on value
The Internet of Things and the devices associated with it are considered very “cool” at this time. It seems like every startup is trying to come up with some new, fancy, technologically-modified way to do something, and a lot of the time, these devices are “neat” but are not very useful in the everyday life of users. The IoT services and devices that will stand up, in the long run, are those that provide serious value and usefulness to a customer base. Companies need to look at the needs of their users, find a problem they have, and provide them with a solution to that problem. While some people are eager to try out new tech, many others are cautious about adopting and don’t feel confident about it when they do. Research must be done that will help the company understand the possible barriers to adopting their solution and what features need to be included so that the solution is relevant and valuable from the launch.
6. The human connection
The great aspect of the Internet of Things is that it enables people to do things that previously required a lot of effort or knowledge. As an IoT designer and developer, your goal ought to be connecting people with each other, not with products. Advancements in the field of IoT need to be aimed at initiating and improving user interactions and opening dialogue, not inadvertently pushing people to shut themselves off from each other even more. Technology should be more than just tech. IoT solutions should provide and become a way of interactivity, enhancing the natural ways people connect to each other.
When an IoT solution is presented to the world, despite how carefully it may have been designed and developed, something will inevitably happen where the solution fails. When this happens, the main thing that the creators will be able to fall back on is a strong image that resonates with and represents a close relationship with their customers. This ties back partly into the second design consideration since part of building a strong brand is building up trust between the creators and the consumers. When users feel connected to a brand and trust a company, they will be more willing to forgive the company when a solution fails and will still want to make use of future services. Building a trustworthy brand is an essential ingredient for any company in any field, and especially in a growing field like the Internet of Things.
8. Premeditated actions
This consideration ties in partly with the fourth one regarding new user actions. One of the greatest powers of the Internet of Things is the ability to adapt to situations, and indeed predict them before they happen. We are beginning to see digital interfaces where a singular action can generate a series of events, rather than a singular reaction. There may soon be devices that react with no direct human action to initiate it at all. IoT devices can learn the habits of humans and intelligently adjust without needing to be taught directly. Successful IoT designs will have interfaces ready to provide this new dynamic of control and response.
9. Take a holistic view
Keep in mind that IoT solutions usually consist of multiple devices with both physical and digital points of interaction and with many different capabilities. One touchpoint should not be designed without taking all others into account. A holistic view of the entire IoT system must be taken to ensure that the role of each individual device is known and the concept model of how the user perceives and interacts with the system is understood. To create a good experience and meaningful interaction with the user, the entire system needs to work seamlessly.
10. Leverage what is already known
The Internet of Things is very much a technology of the future. However, as IoT continues to evolve, devices that have never seen before with strange user interfaces will be developed. As for right now, IoT developers need to make use of what they already know so that they can create a UI that is a balance between the familiar and the new. Users will have some standard expectations, even when it comes to these devices of the future, and designers need to call upon these familiar elements and evolve them so that usability and familiarity can be combined with the potential of brand-new technology. Some things can be expected to always be a part of good user experience, and the best IoT solutions will make use of that.