These days, if you walk through Best Buy, you will see an entire area designated to smart home technology. Thanks to the interest and growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), this exciting new technology has finally entered the mainstream. Appliances, thermostats, and even the lighting throughout your house can be controlled from your computer or smartphone. You could also use artificial intelligence; Simply tell Amazon's Alexa what you want your house to do, and she will do it.
Microsoft's HoloLens is even getting in on the action now. For example, Empea Berlin, a German software company, experimented with smart home air conditioning controls using a HoloLens. While it was a rough-looking test due to the extensive collection of exposed wires, it was a great proof of concept. Hopefully, Empea Berlin will package it up and make it look good. After all, user experience (UX) and packaging are critical for widespread adoption.
Most recently, AfterNow, a company specializing in mixed reality out of Los Angeles, has released a video (below) showing off the Phillips Hue smartlights and their take on UX for those lights with the HoloLens. In this very short video clip, we see a holographic color selector—a horizontal color wheel—that can modify the colors of the lights. If your goal is to create natural interactions with devices, often simple is best when it comes to user experience.
AfterNow has actually released a few videos over the last few months showing off their various UX iterations, including an earlier design for smartlights.
While the result should be simple for the user to understand, it is by no means an easy process to create a great user experience. (On their website, AfterNow offers give us a peek into their process a bit, if you're interested.) For AfterNow, what appears to have started out as a few blocks to select and change the color (image above), has since transformed into what is obviously an early version of the current color wheel model (image below).
It is fun to see different team's takes on the UX in the mixed reality space. Without going too deep into a rabbit hole that could easily become its own post (or six), one of the major issues to solve concerning user experience is the highly subjective nature of individual experience. A child that is growing up now will have a very different UX expectation than even most adults. That said, our job as developers is to iterate through these variations, explore the simplicity versus efficient versus natural, and find an equilibrium between these three elements. Not that those are the only choices to make in UX design... sometimes it's "just because," but we will save that for another day.
I have reached out to AfterNow hoping to get their take on the design decisions they have made so far, as well as what their end goal looks like, so keep an eye here on NextReality to find out that information.
Are you looking forward to the new smart house movement? Are you going to have a full fledge holographic avatar/AI running your household? I know I will soon.
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