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The Future of User Interface (UI)

Keeping a proper distance between people and goods

UI heightens value of user experience in Age of IoT

Device connectivity is steadily integrating all facets of our lives and existence ―― As IoT adoption continues to escalate, what has become increasingly more important is the value of user experience (UX) to stir customer emotions. To this end, the UI design plays a crucial role in shaping this value of user experience.

With the increase in applications remotely operating unseen devices, people are more likely to experience feelings of anxiety and discontent as they become further removed from actual operation.

Recognizing this, Daikin has embarked upon "visualization of air" and have incorporated this concept in the design of applications that "operate air." Not only are devices like air conditioners, air purifiers, and environmental sensors hidden from view, the experiences these devices provide to users, such as temperature change, are also unseen. In the Age of IoT, unseen devices are rapidly increasing, and I would like to convey just how UI design can be used to generate even higher UX by highlighting some examples of these invisible operations.

Operating the invisible air by unseen devices

"Daikin Smart APP" is a remote controller application used for residential-use air conditioners and features a UI design that makes it a pleasure to operate air. Here we reconstructed the design by narrowing down the functions necessary for operation and designed a simple, easy-to-see layout. With often used functions and information shown prominently in the screen design, the remote controller is uncluttered and can be operated intuitively by just looking at the graphic images expressing each function.

Icons having the highest frequency of use are arranged in the middle of the operation screen in the design of a circle. In this way, operation mode, such as power ON/OFF, cooling, heating, and ventilation, and current temperature can be instantly identified. The smooth scroll operation enables simple temperature control, and the changes in color graduation correspond to the set temperature, giving users an actual sense of operating the invisible air and adjusting comfort levels.

Because air conditioners have become an essential part of our daily lives in both Japan and countries worldwide, a need has arisen from the growing popularity of IoT for a common global standard in applications. Even for air conditioners, the concepts of "hot" and "cold" and their expression often differ according to country and region, and we have made an extensive investigation of these tendencies. In addition to a layout with multiple languages and the use of pictograms, we have also incorporated extended function settings corresponding to the preferences of each country.

Pursuing greater UX from both perspectives of intellect and emotion.

UI connecting people and goods to the future

People looking back 100 years from now will probably mark this time as a turning point in industrial structure. The industrialization of digital technology and software has quickly arrived, and we stand before an era when comfort levels in air conditioning are imperceptibly adjusted for us through our gestures, bio-information, and the comments we unintentionally let slip out in daily life. Whereas we now speak of "easy-to-use" as the ease in which a device can be operated, we might speak in the future of a device being "easy-not-to-use," meaning the human element involved in operation is largely unnecessary.

Consequently, within the constant evolution of the UI connecting people and goods, the need for a user to operate a UI to change settings may come to an end. Instead, an "easy-not-to-use" UI may appear in its place and bring about a new level of ease and comfort for air and living spaces that had never been experienced before.

Still, even if we do realize a new world of interfaces that resemble those seen in science fiction movies, the UI designer must never forget the true purpose of a UI is to provide many people with value for user experience.

This leads us to a balance of intellect and emotion in which people and goods have a proper distance. That type of UI design is just as it should be, and I believe the type of design connects us to the future.

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