OAUX team looks to the future to solve challenges behind bringing devices to the enterprise
By Sarah Smart, Oracle Applications User Experience
If a wearable sends out my location but there’s no Internet of Things (IoT) device or beacon around to contextualize my experience, did I ever really go to that location at all? Wearables lay at the center of many IoT discussions, and the possibilities they create when they work in tandem are endless. The Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) team has been keeping an eye on both areas for several years and is investing heavily in research and development behind the challenges of interweaving the capabilities of both types of devices and bringing them to the enterprise.
Wearables — your Apple Watches, Fitbits, and Misfits — are finally coming out to play in the world of enterprise applications. For Oracle, the focus is not on the device but on the user experience. The framework of our design philosophy (Glance, Scan, Commit), particularly the first step, provides flexibility for users to vary their devices and for the OAUX team to try new approaches.
Since the Oracle user experience is built with familiar patterns and simple paradigms, such as cards and notifications, Oracle Cloud Applications will be just as intuitive to use on a wearable device as on an iPad.
Jake Kuramoto, Senior Director of the AppsLab, the OAUX emerging technologies team, recently proclaimed wearables “a thing.” But wearables first caught our attention, OAUX GVP Jeremy Ashley said, with Pebble launching a Kickstarter campaign in April 2012. Its first smartwatch not only raised its goal amount of $100,000 within two hours of launching, but it also garnered enough comments on the Kickstarter page to communicate use cases.
“It’s not what you read in the media,” he said. “It’s what you get from people using it.”
Oracle’s interest in wearables is a reflection of people adopting the second phase of the OAUX message (simplicity, mobility, extensibility) using the cloud as a destination for their information, said Ultan O’Broin, Director, Oracle Applications User Experience, who has test-driven practically every wearable on the market all over the world.
“With all technology, it arrives before we know what to do with it,” said Oracle ACE Director and Certus Solutions CEO Debra Lilley. “Adoption isn’t until people have use cases.”
OAUX GVP Jeremy Ashley agrees. “Some technologies just aren’t right for the enterprise,” he said, citing Google Glass as an example. “Something about it (like bad battery life) won’t make it stick for certain users.”
Mobility is essential in a world of doing, O’Broin said. “Wearable tech lets the wearer automate the stuff that’s dull and boring, and augment what they love doing, to discover more, do more.”
Thao Nguyen shows off wearables integration via Apple Watch with Oracle Applications Cloud notifications at the OpenWorld 2015 Cloud UX Exchange. She’s using her smartwatch to check into a generic office cube, which in this case is also the OAUX smart office demo.
Oracle’s investment here is in user research into business applications as well as the emotion around wearing a device.
“Just having some device won't win any business. Improving the quality of service or efficiency will,” said Lonneke Dikmans, Managing Partner of eProseed.
“People want beautiful things, to wear beautiful things, to use beautiful things,” O’Broin said. “The design excellence of our apps has to reflect that and the quality of the device ... So in terms of apps, we have to design and build beautiful things, too. Either make your wearable tech beautiful or make it invisible. Nobody wants a crapplication on their Apple Watch.”
“The appearance of wearables matters a lot,” Dikmans said. For example, a wearable that looks great with your outfit might not be safe to wear if you work in a hospital and could injure a patient with it.
“Making business sense of [wearables] requires the ability to filter out the noise and detect the signal. It’s a good time to observe things," O’Broin said.
Internet of Things
IoT is changing the game, so adopting a smart strategy is key. Noel Portugal and the AppsLab team have been experimenting with IoT for the past two or three years. “Personally, for me, it started as a hobby before I even started working with it,” he said.
Jake Kuramoto, who leads the team, has a story to back that up. “Noel introduced me to true IoT in 2009 when he showed me his Christmas hack,” he said. “Basically, he connected Christmas lights and speakers around his house to the Internet. From an Apex web application, anyone could request a song and watch the lights blink in time to the music on a webcam.”
Kuramoto said the AppsLab team stays on its toes as the field evolves with all sorts of back-pocket demos, including an IoT scavenger hunt that uses Raspberry Pis armed with near-field communication readers and an IoT smart office. The availability of cheaper and more accessible (to developers, anyway) hardware has created an explosion of IoT, essentially democratizing such concepts.
Ben Bendig show demos of the OAUX smart office at Oracle OpenWorld 2015 in San Francisco recently.
Context is a huge buzzword when it comes to the smart office. Explicit context — the user uses input to tell the system who they are and where they are going — is becoming a dinosaur. Portugal and the AppsLab team are more interested in implicit context.
In the smart office, the system would observe where the user is, start noticing patterns and habits (such as how long the user usually spends in an office and how often he or she goes to certain places in the application), and provide information that is useful for that point in time, such as pulling up email threads for reference between the two people who are together in the office.
“Once the system knows who you are, it can start making assumptions about what you need,” Portugal said.
The technology has a little ways to go to catch up with this concept, though. “As it is, this doesn’t exist where the system is helping you understand how you interact with the world around you,” Portugal said. We need smarter devices, he said, to fully realize that “walk-up experience” we’re shooting for.
But don’t expect Oracle to start developing such devices all willy-nilly. Ashley advised approaching IoT — and any emerging technology — with caution.
“Generally, my perception is that one has to be very conscious about how they approach any type of emerging tech because it’s so easy to get caught up in the idea of something … that never really pans out,” he said. But in the case of such Oracle endeavors as the Bay Area Heart Walk app, Oracle’s investment is only limited by the creativity of developers and a given idea’s usefulness to the enterprise.
Check out the new Emerging Technology page from the AppsLab team, or read their blog, to learn more about Oracle and all types of emerging technology, from wearables and IoT to gestures and voice as input and everything in between. Check back, too, because the field is only going to grow!