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Designing Mobile Device User Interface Innovations

Small consumer electronics, such as smart wearable devices, create new challenges for user interface (UI) designers that must find innovative ways to enable human interaction via emerging technologies. As a result, semiconductor component integration and software development will also evolve.

The dominance of touchscreen user interfaces will reduce over the next 5 years as more sensors are introduced to mainstream products and entirely new product form-factors emerge, enabling and necessitating new user interfaces -- such as voice, gesture, eye-tracking, and neural.

The latest ABI Research market study examined popular UI methods as well as the natural sensory technologies transitioning from research labs into future consumer electronics product solutions.

"Touch got mobile device usability to where it is today, but touch will become one of many interfaces for future devices as well as for new and future markets," said Jeff Orr, Senior Practice Director at ABI Research.

Orr believes that the really exciting opportunity arrives when multiple user interfaces are blended together for entirely new experiences.

Across 11 unique features from wireless connectivity to embedded sensors, ABI Research found that hand and facial gesture recognition will experience the greatest growth in future smartphone and media tablet shipments, with a CAGR of 30 percent and 43 percent respectively from 2014 to 2019.

The range of applications for gesture recognition span user attentiveness to device navigation control. The impact of UI innovation in mobile devices will be felt across a wide range of consumer electronics applications, including the car and in the home.

As mobile applications integrate more technology, the UI must be kept simple enough to be intuitive. Packing a mobile device with sensors goes little beyond being a novelty. Complexity contradicts good UI design and a critical mass of engaging mobile applications are required for mainstream adoption.

This balancing act is best observed in today’s automobiles where myriad of subsystems are working with the driver to arrive at a destination safely with a minimal amount of learning.

Key components have also evolved from single-function elements into multi-sensor, single-chip packages. This has not only benefited the handheld form-factor, but been the premise for the leading commercially available wearable devices.

As multiple sensors and gadgets work real-time to collect data from an individual and the surrounding environment, the potential for complexity arises once again with each person looking to have their own personalized experience.

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