“The best interface is no interface.”
– Golden Krishna
User interface (UI) refers to how a person interacts with devices or programs. Over the years we have seen a set pattern by which people interact with digital mediums. Developers and marketers have worked on this at length to give consumers better UI experiences and improve the visibility of a brand or app. However, with the increasing use of virtual reality (VR) in our daily lives, a new form of UI is taking over.
Zero UI is now taking its place at the front of technological advancement and is breaking away from what we traditionally recognize as good UI design. This begs the question: are we finally in the age of Zero UI? Or is traditional UI still the preference?
So What Exactly Is Zero UI?
Since the era of Zero UI is gradually dawning upon us, it has become a necessity to know what it entails and how it will affect our future as a whole. Zero UI refers to the concept of removing all restrictions and hurdles between a user and the device they are using. This is effective in the sense that it allows users to have more seamless interactions with the technology that aids them in day to day life. There have been many changes and advancements in the world as we know and while technology moves forwards, it becomes more intuitive. As we interact with these new integrations we come into an environment that has no disconnect from the outside world. In summation, this means that we are now becoming a part of authentic spaces with the help of AI and tech.
How Zero UI Works
When we employ the practical use of Zero UI, the way we interact with content changes. We have devices at hand which we use on a daily basis and for these interactions to become more organic, Zero UI is the push we need. The way AI responds to human behavior is what we first note, mostly their movements or voices. An example of this is Alexa, which acts as a voice assistant without an interface. So whenever you use any form of technology without the barrier of a screen, you are seeing Zero UI at play.
Personal Voice Assistants
Even though personal voice assistants are not part of brand new technology, they have become more popular than ever recently. Why is this happening now of all times? It may be that Google’s Home and Amazon’s Alexa are easy to use for daily interactions and allow people to perform a variety of functions. There is no need for touch when using these innovations, which is a prime example of the kind of future we are looking at.
Difficulties Moving Forward
There are many issues in trying to move Zero UI forward in a streamlined manner. Human to computer interactions was perceived in a particular way and this drastic change is not taking into consideration the impact of unlearning. There are variabilities that need to be taken into account, especially when it comes to new forms of VR UI design.
VR and Zero UI: Points to Consider
Zero UI focuses a lot on the actions of a user. Their speech, glances, thoughts and feelings can all cause a VR system to respond. There is no need to click buttons or type text: information is inputted simply through gestures. One of the problems that systems may fail to recognize is that these actions in 3D spaces may not work properly. Teaching gestures and providing feedback through actions need to be differentiated and the interactions should not extend the user’s movements away from their body.
3D user interfaces have existed for a long time in video games and movies. Since the rise of VR, designers and developers are experimenting more with their implementation in another dimension. 3D graphics and giving different looks to UI and with Zero UI becoming the new trend, this may be left unfinished.
Millions of disabled people around the world have vision, speech and hearing impairments. This gap needs to be addressed when looking at how Zero UI is taking over technology and for global accessibility, the opinion of these people matter. Once this information is clear, we can review the features which could help them use Zero UI devices effectively.
Consumers and Readjustments
Consumers have to readjust to what they already know about interacting with technology. Unlearning the years we have spent becoming accustomed to screens will have to take some time, and using the natural state of our bodies requires some teaching as well.
The evolution and growth of technological advances are inevitable. Although it does bring about many significant changes that impact human lives, we learn to adjust over time. The way we interact with computers has also evolved and the principle of UI design has redefined themselves.