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Augmented reality and natural user interfaces — Illustration by TEAMS

How Augmented Reality can accelerate Natural User Interfaces and disrupt the limitations of conventional interaction

TEAMS Design Trend Story Electronic I

Read part II and part III

By Kai Gehrmann

Since the early beginnings of consumer electronics, their interaction and usability has always been a topic of the highest importance and could be the tipping point between galactic success or costly market failure. Since then, the best and most accepted interfaces were those that allowed for the most direct and intuitive communication with the devices, making the best use of the given technology.

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Photo Credits: Unsplash

What all interactions and interfaces have in common so far is a physical interaction bound to tactility — using keyboards, buttons, switches or any other interaction-device (e.g. computer mouse, touch screens) to trigger an action. This, of course, limits our freedom of movement, as we have to be physically close to the product’s interaction point. No wonder that for certain devices remotes have become almost indispensable companions to us.

The upcoming progressions to more natural user interface focus on eliminating this haptic interaction where suitable, erasing the burden of direct physical presence and allowing a touch less interaction with your devices. Gestures or voice-recognition are considered to be the upcoming standards for such interactions.

While the opportunities that come with these technologies sound exciting, we’re not entirely there yet. For gesture control and voice-recognition alone to become a true alternative to conventional touch-based interaction, these new direct interactions need to be combined with direct, natural feedback.

A key to success might lay in the use of multi-sensory feedback. For example, today’s touch screens not only give visual feedback, but the interaction is also often enhanced through sound and vibration, giving user’s far better experience in terms of sensory feedback and usability.

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Photo Credits: Unsplash

This is why augmented reality or other virtual, holographic visuals could play an important role in the near future to join gesture or voice-control interfaces as the next additional sensual feedback.

While still detached from the physical product or device, 2 or 3 dimensional projected interfaces can help to improve interaction. Gestures become bound to objects again and will be much more precise and understandable for the interpreting system. The fast voice-control will be accompanied by more direct visual feedback allowing for better and more fluent communication with the user.

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Photo Credits: Unspalsh

Later on, additional stimulation like sound and haptic will definitely enhance the interactions. Solutions like the Hololens — limited as it is — are just the beginning.

We’ve collected some examples that give an insight in what is happening out there right now. Enjoy!

This is part of an ongoing series we at TEAMS Design are producing to discuss future trends we are researching in the electronics industry.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on September 5, 2018.

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TEAMS is one of the world’s leading design agencies. TEAMS is not just a name — it’s our attitude!

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