How can today's independent web design professionals and technology services companies keep up with the evolving technology landscape and changing marketplace?
There are three critical aspects to consider for the change of today's landscape. The first is the business mindset where every company is now a technology company. The second (wearables, IoT, augmented reality) integrated experiences beyond the screen. And the third, the standardization of visual interface design.
1. Every company is a technology company
There is an undoubtable trend for companies to invest in in-house technology and design teams. It seems to me that every production-centered designer kind of individual thrives on variety. And the idea of working for one company - one brand - one system, is enough to drive them mad. Problem is... the secret is out. Design wins.
So what happens to the poor ol' designer churning out the same messaging, the same material, the same colors... month after moth... tweaking the same product, over and over again... I've seen it - and it's not pretty, they burn out and bounce around. Creative diversity and freedom will only come to top performers. A little grim I know. But I think building a creative culture inside of long-established organizations can be tough and timely. Managers need to give their in-house designers the room to spread their wings. If you are a designer, look for amazing managers with even better C-level business executives - make sure they understand (or better yet - are themselves) creative people.
2. Integrated Experiences Past The Screen
Education wins. Digital design production is changing and it will favor the bold. With a slew of wearables, IoTs, and other technology platforms to design experiences for, your toolbox just got a whole lot bigger, if you wanted it to or not. We can say that mobile opened up the game. Let's say this... if you are in photoshop all day, writing up html/css/js... start thinking further. Try 3d animation, pick up any IoT platform SDK and start exploring. There is too much going on right now to sit still and plug away on the same design tools and tech stack.
3. The Standardization of The Interface
Over the years, design trends have come and gone. But as web design evolves, it becomes more and more systemized. What was once a pattern-less anarchy is now nearly robotic - every website looks the same. Every layout is based on a similar template, grid, theme, colors, styles, constantly being duplicated. Now more than ever, the interface is becoming - not an extension of the brand, but a task to be checked off a list among many others.
Go big. It's time to look somewhere for inspiration. Even the most experiential designs seem cliche these days. Brands who can create custom experiences should do so. And make sure it's bold, daring, and exciting. Because if it's not - it won't make the paper.
The next decade for designers and technology service producers and independent contractors will be challenging and riveting. I'de say that it will be as such for every business. In many ways, digital production is the blue collar work of today. And standing out will require tremendous expertise and focus. Buckle up - let's make magic!
We are excited to see MagicLeap make major investment success. Magicleap is somewhere between augmented reality and virtual reality. At the core of the technology platform is Digital Lightfield™
In essence, Magicleap will enable a series of devices that create a digital light-emitting 3d illusion for users. According to the MagicLeap website, they are calling this technology the Digital Lightfield. Star Wars anyone?
All science fiction aside, MagicLeap is exciting stuff. Google is one of the project's biggest investors with $542m in funding. Along with tons of other players including Andreessen Horowitz. The patents that MagicLeap filed suggest that the hardware device will be able to create 3D patterns of light rays. This means that your brain is completely in-sync with the generated reflections.Thomas Cull, another investor, said: “I’m not sure exactly what the category will be called but it augments and brings you into a world in a completely realistic, immersive way without taxing your eyes or brain.”
According to the MagicLeap website: "With our founding principles our team dug deep into the physics of the visual world, and dug deep into the physics and processes of our visual and sensory perception. We created something new. We call it a Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal™ (you can call it a Digital Lightfield™). It is biomimetic, meaning it respects how we function naturally as humans (we are humans after all, not machines).
In time, we began adding a number of other technologies to our Digital Lightfield: hardware, software, sensors, core processors, and a few things that just need to remain a mystery. The result of this combination enabled our technology to deliver experiences that are so unique, so unexpected, so never-been-seen-before, they can only be described as magical."
Pair the convincing reflections with patents filed for infra-red sensors and eye-tracking cameras means MagicLeap could create context and environment aware 3d light illusions. Companies like MagicLeap don't come along everyday and we feel this could have real applications for (just about) every industry, most notably: gaming and advertising.
Given the course and advancements of the technology, we could see MagicLeap products being really useful for a variety of applications, from military to healthcare simulation, and eventually in our living rooms.
We think Google's investment was well-played. In July, Facebook completed a $2bn purchase of Oculus Rift. Oculus is a more practical investment. The platform has proven success and a cult following with gaming titles under their belt. Given all of Oculus's successes, we feel like MagicLeap might look more like the future of virtual reality.
Today, the human-machine interface is evolving. New digital experiences are brought to life everyday. We bring you our favorite input methods and latest technologies that are helping to bring seamless digital interactions...
1. Natural Speech Recognition
There are entire businesses and product who promote natural speech recognition. It's been around for so long, you're probably wondering how it made this list. It's because it has so far to go, yet it is still readily adopted as an alternative input method by every modern smartphone user on the planet.
Making Siri human is incredibly difficult. It's safe to say that we have never had in our hands, a reliable interaction with speech recognition. That is having a real conversation... And we think that we are just a few generations away from some fun and interesting adoptions and technological advancement in natural speech recognition. Just as important as the technology will be the design of these systems to integrate into our everyday lives.
2. Gesture / Motion Sensing
Motion sensing/gesture technology has come a long way in the past few years with Leap Motion and Kinect platforms at the top of our list. On the one hand, motion sensing feels like a natural step forward to create a more integrated digital and physical world. On the other hand, it's just not there yet. Still, what we can do today is highly impressive, and with these platforms being accessible and developer friendly, getting in is easier than ever.
There are some heavy-hitting, inspiring applications for motion sensing in the gaming sector. But mass adoption feels far out. We think the primary reason that gesturing is so hard to adopt is that the interactions and behaviors required to engage with the system are invisible and highly complex. Although motion sensing is supposed to feel natural, it certainly does not feel that way now.
3. Virtual Reality
Every consumer electronics company worth their salt is exploring virtual reality. It's time to throw away those 3d glasses and try a VR set. One of the most popular sets at this time is the Oculus Rift. Steady but still experimental. We believe in VR because it's fun and we are far from the only ones.
To be honest, we are afraid for the industry. It's clearly at a critical point in it's evolution. VR can quickly turn from a potentially ubiquitous consumer electronic to gimmicky at best.
4. Ambient Connected Objects
That up there is the Kohler Numi Toilet. It's as much awesome as it is absurd. Smart everything! We talk a lot about connected objects on this blog and it's for a good reason. Many technologists see the connected world as the next industrial evolution. And they are not far off. Practically, everything you have in your house can be re-imagined. From the lighting, to the appliances, to security, etc... But it's not only in the home, how about your car, the gas store, your office, your desk, your pen.
Every business that produces any product in any sector needs to consider connecting their products as a critical technology investment in the next few years (2014).
That's it! Those are our top three input methods to watch out for. Contact us to start integrating these input methods into your products or create an amazing campaign featuring the technologies we've mentioned today. Stay tuned for more examples and guides from Sharp+Nimble.
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