The Disappearing User Interface

July 13, 2015 Mark Rosenzweig

Get ready for the next evolution in user interfaces (UI): No user interface.

How you ask? How can we remove a pillar of our digital world? Without UI wouldn’t we be lost trying to navigate a series of maze-like applications and websites? The solution to that problem is the Internet of Things (IoT). For those that don’t know what IoT is get ready for what CES 2015 claims is the hottest topic in tech. According to Forbes “IoT is the concept of connecting any device with an on/off switch to the internet (and/or to each other),” it is simply a giant network of any device that can transmit data to one another. IoT can help make UI designs less complex by reducing reliance on human input and having devices pick up the slack.

Say Farewell to UI

As far as UI has evolved to let us accomplish what we want, we still can’t beat machines. Humans cannot match the speed at which devices can communicate data between one another. The Internet of Things is speeding up how effectively machines can communicate with one another. With devices getting better and smarter at communicating the right data, and predicting the user’s goals; UI will slowly begin to fade. For instance, you won’t need to check the weather on your phone if your umbrella lights up when rain is in the forecast.

UI is Just An Obstacle

Think of UI like an obstacle between yourself, a device, and accomplishing a task. Even the best and least complicated UI like voice commands are an obstacle. When two devices communicate with one another to accomplish a task, no UI is necessary required.

IoT can help make UI designs less complex by reducing reliance on human input and having devices pick up the slack.

While we may be glued to our “screens” now, IoT is making screens less important. That’s exactly what tap-to-pay credit cards are doing right now. It used to be such a chore to take out your credit card, insert it, and follow the steps on the POS system. Now, it is just tap and go, no obstacles in your way.

The Internet of Things is Getting Smarter, and That is Good

IoT is growing larger every day with experts like Gartner & Cisco estimating the adoption of connected devices will reach 25 – 50 billion by 2020. As it grows, IoT will get smarter and more accurate at predicting user wants and actions. While it sounds scary, IoT will change how we interact with our devices, making it less about navigating user interfaces and more about accomplishing what we want.

What does this mean for us? IoT has the potential to simplify everyday life. Devices will act seamlessly to both lessen user involvement and achieve the results they wanted. By removing the number of UI encountered in a day we have more time to accomplish other things. No user interface really does sound like the best user interface.


Further Reading: How IoT is Impacting our Lives

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