Thursday Jun 23, 2016

Earbuds, Sport, Language, and Music: Wearable Tech UX Looks Familiar

I think it's fairly obvious that people are more comfortable adopting technology when it fits a familiar paradigm and doesn't make them uncomfortable, especially in the presence of others. Take the success of the smartwatch, for example. It adopted a familiar and accepted form factor for a purpose (telling the time) that had already made the journey from gazing at the sun to a place on the body. The gesture of glancing at the time is now a ritual we take for granted, but smartwatch capabilities and potential beyond that is huge.

The path to using the smartwatch platform for more than telling the time will be as easily trodden as the path to using mobile phones for more than just making telephone calls, provided there are killer use cases and things are well-designed and look good. And yet, as with smartwatches, the room for easy customization and personalization of the user experience must be provided for; these are critical dimensions to wearable technology, which are highly personal devices.

Bucardo Pocket Watch accessory for Apple Watch
Old meets new: Bucardo Pocket Watch accessory for Apple Watch

On this note of familiarity, it is interesting to note that Pebble has announced the Core that will take advantage of our familiar use of music when working out or running outside. The Core is a small, screen-less device with GPS and Spotify playback capability. The fact that it doesn't have a UI doesn't mean there is no UX, a point that is well made with IoT design, too. The Pebble Core funding campaign is on Kickstarter.

Pebble Core
Pebble Core

The Pilot, by Waverly Labs, the world's first "smart earbuds," allowing for real-time language translation, has raised over $2 million in funding through Indiegogo.

Pilot by Waverly Labs
Pilot by Waverly Labs

Seeing people in the street, in the office, in the gym, and everywhere else with their earbuds in is a norm, of course. So is hearing or listening music as part of our daily lives. Music, too, is now part of the complete user experience when working remotely, at home, or in the office.

Watch this space as more familiar concepts, rituals, and artifacts become vehicles for wearabletech innovation and adoption. . . .

Wednesday May 25, 2016

Fashion-conscious Wearable Technology Innovation

We've been keeping an eye on fashion and technology and what it means for the enterprise.

So, I am delighted to have now received a Bucardo Pocket Watch accessory for my Apple Watch. Thank you, Jeremy Ashley (@jrwashley!

Bucardo Apple Watch Pocket Watch Accessory

Bucardo Apple Watch Pocket Watch Accessory

I am looking to evaluating the accessory with a new suit soon, gauging the whole user experience and reactions of others (of interest to those of you still wearing vests and waistcoats).

Bucardo can be found on Kickstarter, seeking funding for "premium jewelry and accessories that transform your Apple Watch into a pocket watch or pendant." It's a prescient example of the kind of community-driven innovation that we keep an eye on as an influencer of enterprise user experience.

Bucardo Apple Watch Pocket Watch Accessory

Bucardo Apple Watch Pocket Watch Accessory

On said subject, I have also ordered the new Garmin Vívomove smart watch: a very fashion-conscious fitness tracker.

Garmin Vívomove
Garmin Vívomove

Watch out for a review of that one too!

Sew Cool Code: Oracle Fashion Technology In The Making

Soldering at the Oracle HQ Fashtech Event
Many hands make light (emitting diodes) work. Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) gets down to designing fashion technology (#fashtech) solutions in a fun maker event with a serious research and learning intent. OAUX Senior Director and resident part-time fashion blogger, Ultan “Gucci Translate” O’Broin (@ultan), reports from the Redwood City runway.

Fashion and Technology: So, What’s New?

Wearable technology is not new. Elizabeth I of England was a regal early adopter. In wearing an “armlet” given to her by Robert Dudley, First Earl of Leicester in 1571, the Tudor Queen set in motion that fusion of wearable technology and style that remains, as evident in the Fitbits and Apple Watches of today.

Elizabeth I’s device was certainly fly, described as being “in the closing thearof a clocke, and in the forepart of the same a faire lozengie djamond without a foyle, hanging thearat a rounde juell fully garnished with dyamondes and a perle pendaunt.”

Regardless of the time we live in, for wearable tech to be successful, it must look good: It’s got to appeal to our sense of fashion. Technologists remain cognizant of involving clothing experts in production and branding decisions. For example, at Google I/O 2016, Google and Levi’s announced an interactive jacket based on the Google Jacquard technology that transforms areas of the Levi’s Commuter jacket into a touch- and gesture-sensitive surfaces, allowing wearers of the jacket to control mobile experiences, such as listening to music, without using a hand-held device.

Fashion Technology Maker Event: OAUX Couture

Misha Vaughan’s (@mishavaughan) OAUX Communications and Outreach team joined forces with Jake Kuramoto’s (@jkuramot) AppsLab (@theappslab) Emerging Tech folks recently in a joint maker event at Oracle HQ to design and build wearable tech solutions that brought the world of fashion and technology (#fashtech) together.

Julian Orr, David Xie, and Tawny Le

(L-R) Julian Orr (@orr_ux) and intern David Xie flash off those word-face smart watches while Tawny Le (@ihearttanie) creates an interactive glove solution for aspiring keyboardists of all sorts.

The event included the creation of interactive light skirts, smart watch word faces, touch-sensitive drum gloves, sound-reactive jewelry, and more from the Adafruit wearables collection.

Sarahi Mireles and Ana Tomescu

(L-R) Sarahi Mireles (@sarahimireles) and Ana Tomescu (@annatomescu) work on a fiber-optic pixie skirt.

Kathy Miedema and Raymond Xie

(L-R) Sew cool! Kathy Miedema (@klbmiedema) and Raymond Xie (@YuhuaXie) exchange maker tips. Knit one, PERL one, anyone?

The occasion was a hive of activity, with sewing machines, soldering irons, hot-glue guns, Arduino technology, fiber-optic cables, LEDs, 3D printers, and the rest, and a diverse range of maker skills all in evidence during the production process.

3D Printer and Sewing Machine

Makers, shmakers: 3D printing and sewing machines were part of the toolkits available to the emerging tech fashionistas.

NeoPixel Peace Pendant

Peace, man: 3D printed cases were provided for the assembly of the NeoPixel Peace Pendants from the Adafruit wearables collection.

Michael LaDuke

PiMP my glove, baby! Michael LaDuke ready to make fashion and technology go hand-in-hand with his MIDI drum glove kit.

Fashtech events like this also offer opportunities of discovery, as the team found out how interactive synth drum gloves can not only create music, but be used as input devices to write code, too. Why limit yourself to one kind of keyboard?

Noel Portugal, Raymond Xie, and Lancy Silveira

Discovery, design, development: All part of the maker’s day. (L-R) Noel Portugal (@noelportugal), Raymond Xie, and Lancy Silveira ( @LancyS) get ready for the big reveal!

Wearable Tech in the Enterprise: A New Dress Code

What does this all this fashioning of solutions mean for the enterprise? Wearable technology is part of the OAUX Glance, Scan, Commit design philosophy, key to that mobility strategy reflecting our cloud-driven world of work. Smart watches are as much part of the continuum of devices we use interchangeably throughout the day as smart phones, tablets, or laptops are, for example. To coin a phrase from OAUX Group Vice President Jeremy Ashley (@jrwashley) at the recent Maker Faire event, in choosing what best works for us, be it clothing or technology: one size does not fit all.

Maker events such as ours fuel creativity and innovation in the enterprise. They inspire the creation of human solutions using technology, ones that represent a more human way of working.

A distinction between what tech we use and what we wear for work and at home is no longer convenient. We’ve moved from BYOD to WYOD. Unless that wearable tech, a deeply personal device and style statement all in one, reflects our tastes and sense of fashion we won’t use it unless we’re forced to. The #fashtech design heuristic is make it beautiful or make it invisible. So let’s avoid wearables becoming swearables and style that tech, darling!

If you're an Oracle Partner interested in what these kind of events mean for growing your Oracle Cloud business, then stay tuned to the Oracle Usable Apps in the Cloud blog for more information, or contact us though your usual channels.

Sunday Apr 24, 2016

UX in a Heartbeat: Emotion and Happenin' Haptics on the Apple Watch

We know that user experience (UX) is increasingly an emotional concept and we need to design accordingly

UX is about how people feel about using applications. User experience design also enables us to express emotion too: Just look at the growth in popularity of emoji for example.

Here’s another emotional design feature I like: the Digital Touch capability on the Apple Watch that lets you share your own very heartbeat with another Apple Watch user. Not only does the person selected from your contact list see your heartbeat, but as it’s a haptic alert, they get to feel it too!

Apple Watch Digital Touch heartbeat exchange with my son, Fionn

As someone who travels a lot  on business and is away from a young son, I love this heartbeat feature. It makes me feel close to someone who is in reality very far away. 

Although being a Skype Dad doesn’t really cut as a way to stay in touch with my son, this little “in the moment” and deeply personal digital expression of my emotion helps me feel much better when away. It really means a lot to me.

It’s such a warm feeling to see and feel my son’s heartbeat on my wrist in return.

Saturday Apr 23, 2016

Your New Favourite Band? Watch Straps Get Smart

At last wearable technology makers are getting it: The fashion or style dimension of wearable tech (or #fashtech) is critical to user acceptance and market success. 

All the wearable tech majors are at it now, hiring fashionistas left, right, and center to consult on, design, and flash their products in public. The hot wearabletech space at the moment is, of course, smartwatches. Seemingly everyone is offering a device (Swiss Army?) and now must consider the impact of how fashionable the thing looks. 

But, whether these players are getting the balance between chic and geek right is another question. At least we are moving in the right direction: away from the wardrobe malfunction era!

Apple Watch bands

The recent launch of a new range of fashionable bands for the Apple Watch made me ponder: How come I saw nobody queuing overnight outside the Apple Store in Stanford to get the first ones? OK, I jest a little, but clearly people feel they can live without a new range of straps that don’t really add anything new.

Apple Watch bands

How might this be addressed? Well, consider the amount of UX real estate that is going a-begging for fashion or functional enhancement on a smartwatch band or strap compared to the device’s watchface itself. It’s a simply staggering oversight from a design perspective.

But innovation is at hand. 

Some people see the possibilities and potential of a smart strap or band. 

MainTool, Wotch, uBirds Unique, Samsung Tiptalk, Montblanc Timewalker, and more, are here. 

You will see watch bands become not only more fashionable but more functional -  smarter - in 2016.

As the CEO of MainTool says: “Let’s have the tech you want find a way to work around the watch you love.”

Watch that space on your wrist.

Saturday Jun 27, 2015

Jules of the Oracle Cloud: Wiring Developers' Use Cases to UX PaaS4SaaS Productivity

Two killer videos to watch. Together.

First up, Oracle Applications Cloud User Experience PaaS and SaaS enablement outreacher Julian "Jules" Orr (@Orr_UX) on how to select the right use case for PaaS4SaaS using the #JTBD (Jobs To Be Done) approach.

This video is part of the OTNArchBeat (@OTNArchBeat) Two Minute Tech Tip (2MTT) series.

Second, we have Oracle partner Hitachi Consulting talking about wireframing customer cloud solutions using OAUX enablement and what that means for shortening the HCM SaaS innovation cycle and increasing business.

No idea who the guy in the ETRO (@EtroOfficial) suit is. Damn hipsters.

Of course, the two videos are perfect together. Just like PaaS and SaaS.

You can read more about the Hitachi Consulting enablement on the Usable Apps blog.

Your First KiSS: Learning 2 ♥ #IoT UX with APIs

Services: that’s really what’s at the heart of the IoT (Internet of Things) device conversation and what makes the user experience (UX) design of IoT different. 

Think of your first KISS (Killer Integration Services, Simple) as the beginning of a love affair with ubiquitous connectivity of devices and data exchange through the cloud. 

I recorded this Two Minute Tech Tip (2MTT) with Mr. OTNArchBeat (@OTNArchBeat), Bob Rhubart, to explain more about where developers now need to place their affections in the cloud.

The O'Reilly ebook Experience Design addresses IoT, explains how services are at the heart of the IoT user experience, and outlines other differences too. 

Those services are made available via web APIs and developers and designers now need to approach UX by building UI services for task flows and fluid connectivity and not build hard-coded UIs. 

APIs are a form of UX design, and the future of developers implementing UX, as Jared Spool (@jmspool) would say. 

Learn to love APIs as UX design for the cloud
Oyster Card for transport in London. No card actually necessary!

This UX Mag article summarizes the basics you need to know about what’s different about UX design for IoT. The London Oyster Travel Card is a great example of the IoT UX: You don’t even need the card to travel, you can use NFC and tap your smartphone at the ticket barrier to get to the trains, for example. 

With that data is in the cloud and devices are connected, you’re good to go. Some of those “things” of course, don’t even have a UI! 

You can read more about services and how APIs are UX design for IoT, PaaS, and SaaS on the Usable Apps blog

Devs, it's time to heart APIs if you’re not already Oracle Cloud smitten.


Oracle Apps Cloud UX assistance. UX and development outreach of all sorts to the apps dev community, helping them to design and deliver usable apps using PaaS4SaaS.


Ultan Ó Broin. Senior Director, Oracle Applications User Experience, Oracle EMEA. Twitter: @ultan

See my other Oracle blog on product globalization too: Not Lost in Translation

Interests: User experience (UX), PaaS, SaaS, design patterns, tailoring, Cloud, dev productivity, language quality, mobile apps, Oracle FMW, and a lot more.


« July 2016