Making emerging tech useful: What do humans need right now?
Promises of self-driving cars, drones delivering pizza and microchip implants are all reaching actualisation. What we deem possible changes daily. But with even more new and emerging technologies, the future becomes intimidating once again. How do we implement these technologies so they are useful for humans?
At Mayte, we believe in a holistic approach to solving problems with technology. This means translating the complexity of emerging technologies for everyday use, using technology to solve real problems, and applying human-centred design to the creation of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality, and experiences on conversational interfaces.
The next rush in creative advertising, marketing, and customer engagement will come from leveraging these emerging platforms and technologies to improve the human experience. There’s plenty of talk around how the next billion dollar business will come from this space — but consumers are disillusioned to how this tech will become integral parts of their lives.
How will they use virtual reality on a Monday morning while making their coffee? What will they buy through a conversational interface? Emerging technology needs to work for humans. Simple.
In its 2017 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report, analyst Gartner’s positioning gives VR a two- to five-year timeframe for achieving mainstream adoption.
However, VR is currently still like a 90’s video game. VR technology has arrived, but for full adoption, you should expect a fully immersive experience within streamlined hardware. It should be one seamless activity, like putting on headphones. We haven’t seen the creation of VR/AR experiences and tools that small to medium businesses can take advantage of, with the education behind them to succeed.
Designing VR experiences that people can benefit from are varied. Think of how VR can not only entertain and delight users, but transform them. VR allows you to see through the eyes of another person. With VR you can explore and travel to remote destinations.
Human-centred experiences that leverage all VR has to offer could look like:
- Transport people to disaster zones to increase awareness. For example, an experience that allows users to feel like they are snorkelling through the dying parts of the Great Barrier Reef, experiencing the devastation like they are having a first hand experience.
- Experiences for the disabled, injured, or elderly. Imagine being able to allow physically impaired people fly, run, swim, or explore the world. In the spirit of Black Mirror, VR experiences can also help the elderly enjoy their final days in immersive experiences that transport them to a favourite place, or let them enjoy a treasured activity.
- Remote communities. VR helps residents of remote communities overcome barriers like distance to improve learning and education. VR allows students in remote communities access experiences their city peers take for granted.
Alongside VR, augmented reality (AR) presents an entirely new medium in itself. A challenge to designers and creatives used to websites, apps, video, and images — AR & VR completely change the game.
“We’ve effectively had the same flat screen medium since 1896. VR/AR uniquely provides a sense of presence and immersion, it’s a brand new art form and brand new form of experiencing.” – Eugene Chung, Founder and CEO at Penrose Studios.
AR combines virtual reality with the real world. Boosting the environment around people with overlaid imagery and video to convey information and entertainment has various use cases. Imagine walking through historic sites and seeing an overlay of what the site used to look like.
Debuted at WWDC 2017, the newly released ARKit framework by Apple will see iOS 11 open the floodgates for AR apps.
Useful AR experiences look like:
- Previewing furniture and renovations. Look through your phone and preview how furniture will look in your home against other objects before purchasing.
- Transport. Look at a bus going past a get a preview of its route and destinations
- In store price comparison. Look at an product in store and see how the products prices compare across multiple retailers.
- Live sports/entertainment. Watch live sports events and view stats above players heads as they play in front of your eyes. E.g. stamina, goals, penalties, etc.
Chatbots entered mainstream use in 2016 when Facebook debuted their useful functionality on the Messenger platform, and opened it up for businesses to create their own. Now chatbots are accessible through Messenger, Kik, Slack, and natively within websites and SMS. Chatbots provide convenience for users as they can access brands, games, and even commerce through apps they already use daily instead of downloading separate branded apps.
Chatbots mean these digital experiences talk back. Conversational interfaces use personality is the new user experience. When done well, customer service chat bots save time and money, and brands are jumping at the chance to automate their customer service. However, a more interesting alternative is crafting experiences through conversations, providing valuable and unique experiences.
Chatbots can be used in unique ways like:
- Content Marketing. Use a strong brand voice in conversation and deliver stories, exclusive content, games, and campaigns through messaging platforms like Facebook, or Kik.
- Therapy. Well designed chatbots with engaging personalities can be used as a scalable personal therapist. With rising mental health statistics worldwide, this offers a unique solution.
- Personalised service. Chatbots can be designed with tone of voice and language choice to exactly replicate the personality of a brand, or a representative of that brand. Think of bots as personalised 1-on-1 service at scale.
How else might we use these emerging technologies in meaningful and useful ways? There are still many questions to be answered. As long as a human-centred approach is taken to designing experiences with these technologies, we will see products that better the human experience.
At Mayte, we specialise in helping archaic businesses become future-ready. Our projects include using VR to raise awareness about domestic violence, applying machine learning to automate health insurance and websites that make you want to buy margarine. We put jetpacks on dinosaurs, and in doing so we hope we can help answer the questions emerging tech creates.
Personality is the new UX
With the rise of voice-driven interfaces like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, language has been given more importance.
Engineers aren’t writers. Yet, these new products are run exclusively through conversations and language. That’s where writers come in, to shape an experience that actually makes sense.
“I believe art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century like science and technology did in the last century.” — John Maeda.
Communication has evolved from SMS notifications and segmented social media advertisements, to scalable solutions like chatbots. Digitally native customers are ‘always on’ and expect more from their brand interactions.
Facebook Messenger now boasts 1.2 billion users – and messaging platforms are dominating the growth of social media networks. There are now 100,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger alone, and the growth of the industry is dwarfing that of the app ecosystem.
Why use chatbots?
Bots can be used for campaigns, e-commerce, product launches, or customer service. Their potential is limitless.
However, the real reason brands are so interested in bots is the conversational experience. Imagine thousands of users having a unique, personalised conversation with a brand – all at the same time. A bot can also be a direct representation of a brand’s personality. Users can talk to a brand and get a ‘branded experience’ talking right back to them.
Why does your bot need a personality?
Brands already make highly personalised experiences for their users. The cult newsletter theSkimm call their tone of voice the “best friend element”, which makes their product digestible and relevant to a female millennial audience. Founders Danielle Weisberg & Carly Zakin describe how they created their unique tone of voice when speaking on GirlBoss Radio. They went to the lengths of having an intern write down all the common phrases they used when speaking, and translated this into their product.
Making products more life like is where bots come in. We can personalise interactions and make a user experience feel more intimate by designing bots with personality. The easiest way to do this is by mimicking the human behaviour of a brand’s target audience. What are their personality traits? How does your target audience speak, and act? Replicate this in a conversation.
How far do you go?
The challenge is using personality — but also making sense.
Here are our favourite ways to use bots:
Content Marketing. Use a strong brand voice in conversation and deliver stories, exclusive content, games, and campaigns through messaging platforms like Facebook, or Kik.
Therapy. Well designed chatbots with engaging personalities can be used as a scalable personal therapist. With rising mental health statistics worldwide, this offers a unique solution.
Personalised service. Chatbots can be designed with tone of voice and language choice to exactly replicate the personality of a brand, or a representative of that brand. Think of bots as personalised 1-on-1 service at scale.
You can read more about using bots in our post about ‘Making emerging tech useful’.