The Gigantic Impact of UX/UI Design on Internet of Things Applications

DN Staff

March 18, 2015

3 Min Read
The Gigantic Impact of UX/UI Design on Internet of Things Applications

Are you tired of hearing about the Internet of Things (IoT)? Are you asking yourself, why should you care? Most tech developers, designers, and engineers will tell you that IoT is very important and paying attention to UX/UI (User Experience/User Interaction) design standards during its implementation will make a big difference for the better in the daily lives of businesses and consumers.

Today, we are experiencing the "perfect storm" for IoT. The technology has become prevalent and pervasive because:

  • Sensor technology has become much cheaper recently -- down more than 50% in the last 10 years. Sensors are the key to connecting "dumb" (previously unconnected) things to the Internet.

  • IoT relies heavily on widely available bandwidth -- which has come down in price by 40 times in the past 10 years.

  • The price of microprocessors is down by 50 times over the same 10 years.

  • There's wireless infrastructure everywhere -- even though it may not always seem that way.

  • Displays are smart and interactive.

  • Big Data algorithms are maturing and data storage costs are decreasing.

This is truly the perfect convergence for IoT growth. And without best "Experience" and "Interface" design practices in IoT products, businesses and consumers alike will drown in the sea of TMI -- too much information -- or be set adrift on incorrect and misleading information.


In the IoT workflow, every "thing" and every person is talking. At the sensor level, things are talking to things, so machines themselves are IoT users. Things are talking to online services, meaning applications are also users. And both things and services are talking to people, the most important user of information delivered via IoT. The communications paradigm is shifting.

What impact does UX/UI design truly have in this altered landscape? Large-scale use of IoT will rely heavily on brand-new ways of working. Fluid, secure flow of data between sensors, devices, applications, and people is essential to success. A key aspect of this flow will be major and unprecedented collaboration between software developers (at both the application and embedded levels) and interface designers. This will be a hallmark of design in an IoT world.

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Successful collaborations will result in the simplest possible designs with no waste or inefficiencies. Increased machine learning, from sensors, will deliver surprise performance correlations for users. Customized dashboards, or dashboard apps that can be customized by the consumer, will be more important than ever. Data service exchanges will rule the day.

Big challenges lie ahead for IoT

Cybersecurity and privacy issues within both the IoT infrastructure and connected "things" are of premium importance -- and in some cases may drive UX/UI. Efforts to harmonize competing telecoms and wireless standards may also dictate some aspects of design.

The information delivered by IoT will also be tailored to end users, and there are widely divergent problems to be solved. Think about how extensively the information needed by a homeowner will differ from what's needed by a manufacturer of heavy equipment. Or a software developer. Great UX/UI will make all the difference in tailoring smart ways of addressing tough problems. Another nut to crack: Internet of Things technology has a lot of moving parts to be implemented. Elegantly designed solutions for specific, custom needs are the key for speed to market and meaningful use of IoT.

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