The Ubiquitous UI
- Let's Prepare for the Next-Gen User Interfaces
What is UI?
UI (User Interface) is everything, it's everywhere and it's for everyone which is specifically designed to interact with the people. This can include any type of display screens, keyboards, a mouse and the appearance of a desktop and so on and so forth. It is also the way through which a user interacts with an application or a website (but not specifically). Nowadays, most of us highly dependent on the user's overall experience to make the products customizable and user-friendly. UI is often talked about in juxtaposition with UX (User Experience), which may include an aesthetic appearance of the device, response time and the content that is presented to the user within the context of the UI.
UI is the front-end application view to which user interacts in order to use the application. The user can manipulate and control the software as well as hardware by means of UI. Today, UI is found at almost every place where digital technology exists, right from computers, mobile phones, cars, music players, airplanes, ships etc.
The Journey of UI:
UI has been evolved with the dawn of the Batch Interface & CLI (Command Line Interface), which first appeared as a blank display screen with a line for user input. Users relied on a keyboard and a set of commands to navigate information or data with the computer. When UI is considered, the design principles are related to Ergonomics and Psychology.
Afterward, the GUI (Graphical User Interface) arrived and the basis of a GUI include things like windows, pull-down menus, buttons, scroll bars, and icons. With the increasing use of multimedia as part of the GUI, Sound, Voice, Motion Video, AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) came into existence.
Finally, with the emerging popularity of mobile applications has also affected UI, dominant to something called Mobile UI. Mobile UI is specifically concerned with creating usable, interactive interfaces on the smaller screens of smartphones and improving special features, like touch controls and gestures. And now, with so many interesting technologies on the horizon like VR, wearables, smart cars, etc.. the UI and UX, designer's job is more important and more challenging than ever!
Types of UI's:
UI, in the industrial design field of HMI (Human–Machine Interaction), is the space where interactions between humans and machines occur. The motto of this interaction is to allow effective operation and control of the machine from the human end, whilst the machine simultaneously feedbacks the information that aids the decision-making process. The main goal of UI design is to produce a UI which makes it easy, efficient, and enjoyable to operate a device in a way which produces the desired output.
A device that implements an HMI is called a human interface device (HID). Other terms for HMI's are MMI (Man–Machine Interface). Additional UI layers may interact with one or more human senses are Tactile UI (Touch), Visual UI (Sight), Auditory UI (Sound), Olfactory UI (Smell), Equilibrial UI (Balance), and Gustatory UI (Taste).
CUI's (Composite User Interfaces) interact with two or more senses. The most common CUI is a GUI, which is composed of a Tactile UI and a Visual UI capable of displaying graphics. When audio or video are added to a GUI it becomes an MUI (Multimedia User Interface).
There are three classifications of CUI:
Standard - Standard CUI's use of human interface devices like keyboards, mouse, and computer
Virtual - When the CUI blocks-out the real world to create a VR, the CUI is virtual and uses a VR interface
Augmented - When the CUI does not block out the real world and creates AR, the CUI is augmented and uses an AR interface. When a UI interacts with all human senses, it is called a QI (Qualia Interface)
HUI's (Holographic User Interfaces) provide input to electronic or electro-mechanical devices by passing a finger. Intelligent user interfaces are HMI's that aim to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and naturalness of HMI by representing, reasoning, and acting on models of the user, domain, and media.
AR can be on anything, as long as the device is able to interact with a real-world environment in real-time. AR and VR have led to the exponential growth in demand for 3D designs. At present AR, VR and even MR (Mixed Reality) are getting adopted across all industries. AR and VR in industrial design and modeling mean that everything from the design of devices and machines is driven by UI/UX design. 3D Teleportation via AR is one way for remote participants to interact with a shared object to make one of them virtual, tracking the real one in 3D.
A haptic interface relies on touch sensations and physical contact for the user to produce an input and an output. A smart device will vibrate to indicate a notification. There are different types of vibrations to tell us what type of notification we are receiving so we can determine whether a response is required immediately, or if our response can wait.
Voice & Gesture:
Voice user interfaces (VUIs) make human interaction with computers possible through a voice/speech platform that initiates an automated response. A virtual assistant in a smartphone that is controlled by a user's voice. Few famous real-world Voice Assistants are Amazon's Alexa, Google's Google Assistant, Apple' Siri, Samsung's Bixby, Blackberry's Blackberry Assitant, Facebook's Facebook M and Microsoft's Cortana. This means voice interaction systems can be a more natural way of interaction than visual interfaces for the vast majority of users. The aim of VUI is to provide users with a fully immersive experience, nuanced, complex and more humanistic in nature. Today almost 1/3 of the global population own smartphones that can be used for voice interaction, and it's easy to predict that the majority of users are ready to adopt voice interfaces. Hopefully, this will lead us to a more accessible and feasible world.
Gestural interfaces are the interaction with computers and smart devices via the human body, typically through hand movements. Interfaces like these are generally facilitated by sensors and cameras.
CI's (Conversational Interfaces) are the future of Chatbots. Instead of relying only on natural language interaction, with CI we can have a more dynamic user experience. This new way of voice-driven assistant technologies are the advancements in AI.
TUI & SNUI:
TUI's (Tangible User Interfaces) place a greater emphasis on touch and physical environment. SNUI (Sensor Network User Interface) is a more crowd-enabled TUI; instead of one screen, it's made out of several smaller screens that interact with one another.
UUI's (Ubiquitous User Interfaces) refers to computing paradigm in the following dimensions: multi-situation, multi-device, multi-modal, multi-user, and multi-application. Based on these five features we define UUI's are shapeable, distributable, multimodal, shareable and mergeable.
It is the idea that the UI should get out of the user's way completely, allowing for a more intuitive HCI. Imagine speaking to your device the way you would with another human. Or simply gesturing with your hands to initiate some complicated function. Near-future UI paradigms, such as AI and robots, will require even more complex UI's. The current trend of "invisible interfaces" speaks to the emergence of interactive technologies that lack the traditional keyboard/ mouse/ touchscreen controls, and we may even interact with them unknowingly.
Typical HMI design consists of the following stages: Interaction Specification, Interface Software Specification, Prototyping, and Simulation. Common practices followed for UI design are User-Centered Design, Persona, Activity-Oriented Design, Scenario-Based Design, Resiliency Design, Use Cases, Quality and Libraries used. Characteristics followed for best UI Design are Clarity, Concision, Familiarity, Responsiveness, Consistency, Aesthetics, Efficiency, Forgiveness and Principle of least astonishment.
Intelligent Interfaces helps us to improve the quality of interaction for all who interact with computers, smartphones, devices, and machines. These technologies are essential for effective interaction in the future. They assure more efficient interaction, more immersive interaction, more customizable interaction, more effective interaction, and more natural interaction.