Wearable tech is growing into a big business, with ownership of techy wearables predicted to rise to 13% of the UK population by the end of 2015. We now have all kinds of devices that can be adorned by the body to help us do many day to day things; track our health, remind us of our meetings, send and receive messages and now even buy products on the go.

All these different wearables, whether they be a smart watch, fitness tracker, necklace or a pair of glasses, brings along with them a new challenge in designing for their different user interfaces and the experience one has with the device itself.

As designers it is our job to come up with new, exciting and intuitive ways of creating UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) for all these different kinds of screens, or in some cases, no screen at all.

How will our design techniques change to fit all this wearable tech?

In order to better our design for wearable tech, we need to become even more flexible in our thinking, as well as within the designs themselves.

Design will have to consider more than just the visual elements that the user sees, moving more towards how a user actually interacts with a wearable product/app or interface of a device.

Fit Bit fitness tracker
The Fitbit flex has no screen, and no user interface to speak of, instead relying on a series of 6 LED dots to inform the user of their progress to their personal goal.

Thinking more flexibly will be important, especially as tech continues to improve, change shape and include more interaction based micro-movements and gestures that control a devices functionality.

When designing [online] interactions, you need to focus on how people actually behaveJerry Cao on Creative Bloq

This means potentially not only designing for responsive devices visually, but actively designing for secondary smart devices too.

Apple Watch
Many iPhone apps link up with their partner apps on the Apple Watch as secondary inputs.

For example if you are designing an app for mobile/tablet you will have to also consider how this might be used on a secondary input device to the app, such as on a smart watch or a sports tracker, and how the two devices interact with each other in a user experience point of view.

As far as visual design, It seems as though we will have to move away from conventional grid formats for websites and apps, and move even closer towards a fully fluid design that can morph and construct itself to almost any screen size. It is also evident that content will need to play a larger part in the design consideration process, rather than including all the content possible on every device, but instead optimising the levels and type of content for certain devices and screen sizes.

What is the future of wearables?
Will we all be walking round with intelligent chips in our bodies, throwing up virtual reality apps in our faces?

The future?

Wearable technology is growing at an exponential rate. With a predicted 4.9 billion connected ‘things’ in use in 2015, it is obvious that wearable tech isn’t going to be just another fad, but will in fact become an integral part of how we interact with the world around us, even becoming a physical part of our bodies rather than something we wear around it.

Designing for the ever changing screen sizes, shapes, speed, responsiveness and content will inevitably change the way we have to design our user experiences, hopefully for the better. Prepare for the future and get ready to say ‘beam me up scotty’. Technology is now.

 

What do you think the future of UI design is? I’d love to hear what you think on twitter: @fiascodesign