Find the Best Approach
“A new form factor means building new types of software,” Alex Faaborg, staff designer at Google, told the audience.
For Google the way to approach wearables is in two aforementioned new modes of interaction – voice and context, both of which it is releasing APIs on for developers. Faaborg used the example of surgeon in the OR. The surgeon reaches out his hand and, without even having to look, is handed a tool by a nurse. Faaborg says users want wearables to function in the same way. “Users expect the app to be there.”
Developers of wearables and software should approach design by looking closely at how to provide the best, most seamless experience for users. It's a fine line to draw for health apps. Someone with a chronic condition wants to be assisted in managing it, but not necessarily reminded of it day in and out. From the app side Faaborg said this comes with ensuring users don't have to worry about anything except “subscribing to an intent.” Simple voice commands like “Ok Google what's my heart rate?” allow for much faster and less invasive user interactions when possible.
Factor in context and there is even more potential for wearables to continuously work in the background for users. Faaborg pointed to LynxFit an app for Google Glass as an example. The app uses motion sensors to watch you do a workout and works like a personal trainer- it can be set to activate at a specific time or even whenever you enter a particular location. Similarly a nutrition app could use location tracking to detect what restaurant you're at and suggest meal options based on your diet. No need for diabetics or people with allergies to nag the waiter.
Pointing to Android Wear as an example, Faaborg said that the “user interface is is not that complicated. This isn't about sketching a variety. It's about what the contextual trigger conditions are.” and thinking about the world and what the user needs...It's really important in thinking about these wearable applications to think about the world.”
Watch Google's full “Designing for Wearables” seminar from Google I/O below:
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