Archive for August, 2011

Smart devices and digital media interaction: A new wave of Web interfaces

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

It has only really been in the last few years that mobile smart computing has really taken hold. The success of the Apple iPhone and iPad suggest that people are more than willing to pay out for exciting new high tech devices such as these so long as the price is reasonable and the product offers a real convenience or entertainment factor. Now, with the release of the new Sony/Google Smart TV from just US$300, it looks like digital convergence and highly anticipated concept of Web TV and the Networked or ‘Smart’ Home may finally, be on our doorstep.



With the ever growing competitiveness of the digital technology markets, the popularity of social media and ‘constant connectivity’ services along with the recent rapid advances in interaction technologies such as touch screen, sensor, voice and video recognition, we can expect to see the adoption rate of a range of home and office networkable devices increase over the next 5-10 years. The resulting shift in HCI (Human Computer Interaction) design paradigms may be a big step towards the idea of ubiquitous or pervasive computing: interacting with context-aware and interconnected devices in smart networked environments.

Ubiquitous computing involves intelligent learning capable systems that provide a personalised digital service to the end-user. In SEO, the personalisation or socialisation of search and advertising are popular terms of late. Google, Facebook and Microsoft are clearly interested, very aware that this technology will provide a range of new ways to attain and provide much more relevant and personalised information in so many new ways. The partnering of Facebook’s social and Bing’s search services matched against Google’s +1 Button highlights the emphasis these companies are placing on developing a more personalised or informed search experience. In some recently published research regarding Facebook and Google, it is revealed that although Facebook is still the most prominent service in terms of social links and social plugins, Google’s +1 Button is gaining in popularity.



With social media offering such detailed access to so many areas of the users day-to-day habits, personal life and communication networks, one would imagine social media will thrive upon immersion with ubiquitous computing concepts. We may not be far from the day, when the intelligence gathering system for your Gmail, Facebook or Twitter account for example, notices your mid-afternoon post: “I think I’m gunna try cooking a Thai green curry tonight“, then starts showing you all manner and forms of context based advertising for green curry products based on your age, gender, preferences, income, etc. Depending on your personal settings, your ‘system’ could also perform a range of other services such as the scanning of your home for RFID (Radio-frequency identification) tagged food packaging and the subsequent sending of a personalised shopping list including a range of Thai green curry ingredients. The possibilities for these technologies are mind-boggling. In March 2009, Microsoft released an interesting video showing a basic example of smart devices and digital media interaction in a home of the future – I must say, it almost looks like the home of 2012 to me. A company called Living Tomorrow also produced a bit more of a souped up version, demonstrating some other new and interesting smart home interaction paradigms.

How these new and emerging technologies are going to affect digital search, accessibility and usability is surely going to be an area of great interest for professionals working within the all areas of the digital services industry over the next decade. Those in digital services will be able to provide users with more relevant solutions through the utilisation of sensor technologies combined with increasing knowledge of user’s personal preferences. Digital search, the process of returning the best possible solution to a user’s query, will begin to take on new forms such as personalised context-based advertising and information services fed through a range of new devices harnessing advances in interconnected informational services, speech, sensor and touchscreen interaction. As the adoption rates of these technologies increase, we can expect a wide range of creative design and development opportunities in areas such as search, advertising, information delivery and e-commerce. One thing is for sure, big changes are on the horizon as increased usage of these technologies over the next decade result in completely new HCI and design ideas and the birth of revolutionary new data access and search platforms.