The impact of AI on UI design.

If you are anything like me with regards to interests, you’ll be excited by the google I/O keynote for more reasons than new features in android.

Now, its no secret that google is a key player in bringing AI to the masses and proving its usefulness. Imagine google search without its AI giving us useful suggestions; its something we cannot live without now. AI doesn’t necessarily have to be self-aware like robots friends in the movies. At the minimum, it must predict and understand what the user needs, followed by “thinking” about and performing the most appropriate action. It is this thinking part which makes AI such an indispensable tool.

OK, why all this talk about AI in a design blog? There is a reason, keep reading!

In the future, every interaction with technology will have a layer of AI interfacing that tech with the human. Catch my drift? No? Not a problem. What this means is that the traditional thinking of UI being directly in contact with the user is going obsolete rapidly and in its place is the one I mentioned above.

This is especially true with the recent IoT or, Internet of Things movement where-in every gadget from a normal remote to refrigerators will be interconnected with each other and to the internet. Now, we’ve also got to remember that AI is just software and as such doesn’t necessarily need a visual interface like displays to communicate. Most of these future devices will have Android at their core (I sure wish!), and the quickest and easiest way to interact with them will be through gestures and buttons; most of these will be passive and have no screens, atleast none that are interactive. In this case, UI design will need to have a different thought process as there is no need to plan the layout of interactive elements. It will involve increased planning for various methods of feedback through the AI.

Let us take a hypothetical device which can detect your presence and give you what you need. This is the scenario: you return from office at 6:30 PM. Widget A detects your heartbeat and realizes you’re tired. It has been observing your routine and knows you would like some sleep. Another Widget B prepared the bedroom with the right temperature and lighting. If you don’t want to sleep, all you do is gesture. But, here’s the tricky part. What do you want to do if you don’t want to sleep? Do you want to have a bath? Watch a movie perhaps? It is in this case that AI is useful. It “thinks” about the next best alternative action. You might just go to the kitchen to brew a cup of coffee. AI gives a blank stare and rushes to think of what your highness will do next, without you even asking for it.

What this means for us designers is that we have to design these interactions to be easily understood by the machine as well as by the human. This message is what was meant to be conveyed by the article. The future design of UI is not only influenced by human users,  but also by AI. Any gadget which neglects the influence of AI in its design will not survive to be remembered in the IoT world.

So, doing UI designs in the future, lets keep in mind that there are two and not not one key influencers. Cheers!

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