May 10, 2017
Humans have interacted with computers via a screen for what seems like a technological eternity, and the creation of intuitive, aesthetically pleasing screens has been the primary focus of modern app and web design. However, in the last few years, the notion of the screen as the dominant interface has begun to fade, giving way to AI-based systems that utilize voice, haptic (touch) feedback and messaging as the primary means of interaction.
We’re entering a post-screen era (sometimes referred to as “zero UI” – a phrase coined by Fjord’s Andy Goodman where our interactions with technology are becoming more human-like and seamless, invisible almost, as the screens and the visual interfaces they hold become secondary. Our movements, behavior patterns, voices and even our glances are becoming the new ways to interact with the digital world.
Why is the post-screen era important for users?
Screenless interaction is no longer just a curiosity or a bleeding edge experiment.
Amazon, which has sold over 5 million voice-controlled Echo units worldwide, is battling Apple’s Siri for a spot as voice-powered assistant in the rooms of Marriott International’s Aloft chain of hotels.
The Google voice interface is responsible for 20% of all mobile searches.
Perhaps most telling is that leading platforms are opening up and inviting third party development of conversational apps. The momentum of possibility is building.
While we’re seeing a steady growth in adoption, how much of this post-screen technology is truly revolutionizing things for users? Up to this point, much of this technology is still in relatively early stages. There has been a focus on simple commands to execute eCommerce orders (Amazon’s Alexa) or driving directions (Google maps), and the discussion has been around how quickly and accurately results are returned. Yes, accuracy is critical in these instances and the potential advantages to users over a traditional screen interface are nowhere near fully realized, but all of that is changing fast as voice and AI technologies continue to advance.
From the viewpoint of a user, the savvy combination of a voice interface with a powerful AI system and relevant data to fuel it can create seamless experiences that solve real problems for users. Depending on the circumstance, a well executed post-screen design can increase personalization, save time, reduce a user’s cognitive load or make for a more discreet or less obvious interaction with technology in public. And that’s just scratching the surface.
What about brands?
The potential advantages of a post-screen experience are clear for users seeking a more effortless relationship with technology, but what about the benefits for brands? Voice and conversational interfaces can help brands break out of the screen to create more seamless engagements with customers by providing them:
The unique properties of voice allow for the exploration of raw, natural language over written copy. Removing the screen and adding awareness for context or user sentiment can increase the human-like elements of an interaction, making it feel more like a one-on-one conversation.
Screenless interactions can bring you closer to your customers. Imagine technology all around you, available anytime without even having to glance at a visual interface. The ease of access to getting users what they want, and the time they save from this immediacy, can create a sense of a seamlessness. It feels easier. Technological accompaniments like sensors and beacons can further increase the intuitive, “at-your-service” perception of a brand’s offering by incorporating relevant environmental data.
More Intimacy and Personalization
Brands have used the sound of the human voice to connect and engage with customers since the days of radio. Conversational interfaces present an open canvas for exploring human-like traits like voice, tone and personality, and they can deliver this in a responsive, non-linear manner instead of the traditional one-way consumption. Throw in personalized data and an AI framework to interpret it and you’re getting much closer to “speaking” directly with customers.
The shift to the post-screen era continues to create exciting possibilities for users and brands alike. It’s important for businesses to start exploring it now or face the possibility of lagging behind. Yes, the technology is new and the interactions are complex, but never before has the digital world been so close.
Interested in seeing where your business might fit in this new, screenless world? Let’s talk.