1. Nowadays user interfaces are not only
Person’s perceptions and responses resulting from the
use and or anticipated use of a product, system or service. 1. UX is about the complete
experience, and it may not be even about the screen. User Interface is
concentrated on the product. User Experience emphases on the user and their
drive through the product. User experience focuses on that product is useable,
useful, desirable, findable, accessible, credible and valuable.
1.2. Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices,
vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software,
sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enables these objects to
connect and exchange data. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its
embedded computing system but is able to inter-operate within the existing
Internet infrastructure 2. A
network of internet-connected items capable to gather and exchange data using
1.3. UX Design for IoT
Users of connected products focuses on most visible, tangible and noticeable
features. These are the industrial design of Internet of things. They are vital
alarms, which have a key influence on the end UX of the product. But they are
just a one part of the image. User can still have the bad user experience even
if UX designers make an attractive UI, and beautiful piece of hardware. 3. Nowadays user interfaces are not
only about screens now it is more about things.
For IoT is Different
User Experience design is changing
radically from past 10-15 years. Now our many of interaction are with more than
one devices having same functionalities.
Figure 1-1. BBC iPlayer can be
used on connected TVs, smartphones, tablets, PCs, game consoles, and set-top
boxes (image: BBC) 4
User’s interaction can happen many differ ways, particularly for mobile
devices. There are some significant differences between UX for IoT and UX for
digital services. Functionality can be distributed across more than one devices
with diverse capabilities, IoT devices are coming with wide range of form factors
with different input and output capabilities. In connected devices may be focus
of the user experience in the service, Service around the connected devices is
mostly just as acute in delivering the user experience. Malfunctions like
internet cannot expected from the real world, When a user interact with a
physical device over the internet then user interaction could lead to latency
and reliability issues as any other internet communication.
IoT is not synchronous like web application. IoT is mostly asynchronous,
Mostly IoT devices runs on batteries and need to conserve electricity and
maintaining network connections uses lot electric power, so this means that
some of the devices in system could be out of sync with one another, so they creates
discontinuities in the UX.
Typically an IoT product is composed of one or more embedded devices, an
internet service, perhaps a getaway device and one or more web or mobile
applications. That’s why in IoT service code can run at many places. One
another difference is a complex IoT services can have multiple UIs, many
devices, many users, many rules and applications.
3. Challenges in Designing UX for IoT
Connected services stance design challenges that will be new to designers
familiar to typical software products. Many of these challenges branch from the
particular nature of IoT devices, the flukes of networking, distributed systems
of multiple devices and the capability to bond the physical and digital
domains. Those challenges will depend on
the context of use and user’s expectations from the system, maturity of the
technology and the complexity of the service (e.g. number of different devices
and interactions to use it).
Generally user experience design involves a series of user interaction
with system, interactions could be virtual of physical. Best practices have
been pretty obviously placed out for UX based solely on web and mobile, but pitching
in billions of physical connected devices makes things a slight more challenging
and complex. 5.
3.1 Multiplicity of Data points
Diversity of data points is one the challenge. Mostly, an IoT system
needs to tackle multiple data types from multiple devices on user interface
that streams flawlessly across different interfaces. When these multiple data
types from multiple devices are collected, then now end user needs to access a
simple but informative user interface. Unification of the sense across
different interfaces to fit numerous user experiences is one of the major
challenges for UX designers in IoT.
3.2 Hardware knowledge
Selecting the right sensors, processors, and communication modules that
fit into an edge device determines how a user can interact with it and when the
device is not a super powerful iPhone, these types of things matter. For
example, if a certain processor is selected for cost reasons, it may respond
very slowly to certain commands or drain the battery very quickly, which could
really drag down the user experience with slow speeds and outages. 5. Decorative software and attractive
design will not deliver users with a great user experience if the fundamental
hardware is not compatible with that experience. While selecting the hardware
some keys facts needs to in considerations as enough MIPS/RAM/ROM, Durability,
manufacturability, verity of serial interfaces and general purpose input/output
3.3 Connectivity and third party
Connectivity plays a big role in IoT applications. Physical devices
connected through a network and some network are fast, some can only handle
limited amounts of data, some coast a
lot, and on and on. Selecting a right connectivity option for a particular
purpose is very important to deliver a great user experience in IoT solutions.
Connecting different application from different manufactures could be a
mess because hardware components are coming from variety of different vendors which
makes difficult to integrate them all into a seamless user experience.
Figure 2. The abundance of smart-home
apps that don’t work together leads to a bad user experience. 5
example, a smart-home user may work a smart sound system with one app and smart
lights with another, which isn’t a great experience (Fig. 2). In a more extreme
example, a smart home may have lighting from several manufacturers that may
require the user to operate the lights in a single house using different apps.
The ultimate user experience would allow the user to operate each of these
devices from within the same app on their phone, tablet, or smart TV. However,
this isn’t as easy to accomplish in the consumer space as it can be in
industrial implementations. 5.
4 Important Design
creating a new user interface design for Internet of things solutions, there
are some important design decisions which should be under considerations.
Enhance the user experience:
If connecting a coffee pot to the internet is not adding any value to the user
experience then don’t do it. Enhance UX but never advocate it if it fails to
make the experience better.
when design for Internet of things then don’t assume internet connectivity all
the time. The ideal case would be to design for no internet connectivity at
first, and then figure out how much functionality can be perform locally before
Extendable: Life Cycle of IoT devices are too long as compare to the cell
phones. Connected devise could have lifespan from 5 to 10 years. Good Design
would include the ability to easily upgrade the single unit without effecting
the rest of the system.
Sometimes there are use case for the product that you have
never thought about them, and after release of your product you may have to add
some more use cases. So make sure APIs are flexible enough to extend without
effecting other functionality of the system.
6. A framework for
UIs, visuals and appealing design of the devices, the industrial design of the
physical hardware are the most visible and tangible design features of Internet
of Things product.
The UX is not just formed by what the user can see or come
across directly. The basis for a valuable, appealing, usable, and coherent IoT
product is created by care for the UX at less visible, system oriented and
strategic levels. This requires a good underlying technical, service, and
product framework aligned around user needs. It requires attention to the
experience of using the system as a whole 3.
A well-formed overall IoT product involves integrated thinking across all these
The facets of design that must be integrated to deliver a
good UX for a connected product are set out in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Facets of
design in IoT: a good product requires integrated thinking across all of these 3.
It depends on the type and complexity of your service, that
either layers requires less or more of your time. User experience thinking at
the platform layers will primarily be a case of the understanding relatively a
simple APIs and data it’s worth being aware of the whole image, even if not all
of it is appropriate to you right now.
6.1 UI/Visuals and
Most tangible level of UX is user interface design (UI).
Connected products can have more than one interfaces from where end user can
interact. So to achieve specific goals, interaction designers’ needs to form
the structures of actions between the user and device needed. Interaction
designer also defines that how to establish the user-facing tasks of the
product. Interaction design is the design of system behaviors. Primary concern
of the interaction design are behaviors and actions.
Some connected devices may have advanced interfaces that
moves beyond the screens and buttons to audio, haptics, voice, gestures,
tangible interactions, biometrics(from heart to brain waves) and computer
vision. IoT products generates new opportunities for interacting with digital
devices. Specialized devices can allow UX designers to discover a broader range
of user input and output approaches that are better fit to the functions of the
Most software UI designers are familiarized to designing for
high resolution color screens. But in connected devices there are range of
simpler interfaces types. Screens can communicate a lot of information, but
they escalate the cost of device, and can make it stiffer to eradicate feature
creep. Basic LCD screens may be capable to display alphanumeric characters, or
fixed custom graphical segments. In fixed segment displays, every imaginable
portion of information needs to be designed into the display upfront. Recognizing
QR codes, visual channels for system input, through computer vision is also a choice.
But they can sometimes be an awkward or unreliable option.
6.2 Gestural and
Tapping and swiping on the touchscreen are the practices of
gestural inputs. Using computer vision, devices like Kinect can also identify
mid-air motions. Motions/gestural inputs
works well in gaming applications, and short communications where the directions
are clear. Extensive interactions can lead to fatigue and muscle pain, and
false positive inputs can be a problem.
Tactile and Tangible UIs give physical forms to digital
information. Tangible user interfaces enables straight handling through
physical interaction. Tangible UIs can be great for interactive experiences in
museums, educational products, or for musical instruments (Figure 4). Haptic
output uses tactile actions to send information, such as taps or vibration. It
can be indirect, and strains less attention than sound or visual UIs.
Figure 4. The
Reactable is a musical instrument with a tangible interface (image:
Reactable/Massimo Boldrin). 3
6.3 Context Sensitive
interfaces can decrease the complication by adapting interfaces based on
context. Context-sensitive UIs can sense data points that are substitutes for
context, such as weather, movement, the identity of the user, location, time of
day and location. This is used to make inferences about the user’s needs,
offering only the most appropriate possibilities or even taking self-directed
action. If this is executed in a sincere and smart way, it can be an influential
manner to reduce information excess.
products are system of devices and web services. There are often several
devices through which the user interactions happens. UX designers can no longer
consider the user experience of a single UI in segregation. The UX needs to
feel coherent across the system as a whole, even when the devices involved may
have quite different form factors and input/output capabilities. This is
In IoT product in which multiple devices are connected,
designers need to think and decide which device should do what, in terms of
user-facing functions. Will each device have a distinctive role, specialized,
or will some functionality be accessible across more than one device? This is
composition. Proper structure takes into account the competencies of each
device and the context of use. Typical decision in IoT considering the end user
that weather to implement functionality into hardware interface, or divest it
to a web or mobile app.
6.5 Consistency and
across multiple user interface and interactions should also be in
consideration. UX designers need to determine which elements of the design,
such as terminology, aesthetic styling, interaction architecture and platform
conventions should be the identical? One of the top priority should be
terminology. Identical functions must have same name, layout and styling across
all devices. And which elements should be unlike? Different features may be
prioritized on different devices. Devices with restricted user interfaces may require
deeper functional hierarchies.
Continuity is the flow of interactions and data in a
coherent order through devices. It makes the sense for the user that they are
interacting with the service, not with a cluster of separate devices 11. It often means manage
interstitial situations elegantly. UX designer may also have to tackle delays,
interruptions and failures in the interfaces. Acknowledgement of the user’s
command essentials to be shown immediately in multiple connected devices
system, but there may be a delay before it’s promising to authorize that the
target device has truly acted on the action.
6.6 Conceptual model
and Service Design
expectations of the end user from the system is conceptual model. How does it
works, what component and modules does it have, and how can they interact with?
Connected products often have extra components, such as gateways or hubs. If any
part or component of the system loses connectivity or power then functionality
of the system will be effected. In order to use system effectively, end users
must have some understanding of what the different components do and how they
communicate to each other.
UX designers need to explicitly design clear conceptual
models, taking into account users’ behaviors, existing knowledge, and beliefs.
Two approaches can followed to achieve this. The first one is to make the system’s
functionality very transparent to the end users. The second is to streamline
away the complexity.
Node.js is known for its speed, scalability and efficiency—making it great for
developing data-intensive, real-time applications. This, of course, makes
Node.js well-suited for the IoT, which is reliant on data-intensive, real-time
devices and applications 7.
AngularJS Material: AngularJS Material is both a UI
Component framework and a reference implementation of Google’s Material Design
Specification. This project provides a set of reusable, well-tested, and
accessible UI components based on Material Design 8.
openHAB: is a software for integrating different home
automation systems and technologies into one single solution that allows
over-arching automation rules and that offers uniform user interfaces 9.
Knocki: is a small wireless device that instantly transforms
ordinary surfaces (walls, tables, doors, furniture, countertops, & more)
into powerful yet easy to access remotes for your favorite devices and
software. Make surfaces throughout your home or office smart with multiple
Knockis. Bring the surfaces around you to life.
Figure 5: Knoci in
UX for connected devices is not only about the screens, UX
can happen in several ways unlike from web and mobile applications. User
interaction in IoT system is different form digital media. There lot of factors
which makes UX design for IoT different. Diversity of data and interfaces, UX
experience also concerns about the service, distribution of functionality on
multiples devices, asynchronous behavior of IoT products, many places to run
the code, different technical standards from different manufacturers,
complexity of the service with many users and interfaces makes IoT system
distinguish from typical digital products.
Before deigning the UX for IoT products there some decision
which should be taken care. If there is update comes in unit of an IoT system
or APIs of the service, system should be flexible enough to update and extend
without effect the other parts and functionality. While design for IoT
products, UX designer should not consider the internet connectivity all the
time. Designers should determine that
how much functionality is possible without the internet. Do not add anything to
make product fancy if it not adding any value in user experience.
Good industrial design, conceptual model and productization
also important to attract users and make feel them solution to their problems.
IoT product should come with good service and support provision, and feel of
unifications across all connected devices in a system.
The UX is not just the responsibility of the designers, but
everyone involved, including product strategy and engineering. It is vital
thing to think of the user experience at a system level, straddling user
interactions with several devices, the properties of networks, wider business
and service context, physical hardware and the underlying technology enablers.
Organization for Standardization. Human-centred design for interactive systems
Online. Available: https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/#iso:std:iso:9241:-210:en (04.01.2018)
2 Wikimedia Foundation (2018,
January 08). Internet of Things Online. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_things (05.01.2018)
3 Claire Rowland, Martin Charlie
(2015, September 14). User Experience Design for the Internet of Things.
4 Alfred Lui, Ann Light, Martin
Charlier, Elizabeth Goodman, Claire Rowland (2015 May). Designing Connected
Products Online. Available: https://www.safaribooksonline.com/library/view/designing-connected-products/9781449372682/ (06.01.2018)
5 Subramani Baskar, (2017, July 28). 6 Reasons Why
Designing UX for IoT is So Difficult Online. Available: http://www.machinedesign.com/industrial-automation/6-reasons-why-designing-ux-iot-so-difficult
6 Jared Porcenaluk (2017,
May 17). UX Design for IoT – 5 Important UX Design Decisions Online.