July 3, 2014

 Google I/O 2014 contained many sessions relating to Google Glass and wearable computing in general. In the session “Wearable Computing with Google,” Timothy Jordan discussed some best practice advice. Although the term “wearables” can apply to many different pieces of technology, there are some basic ideas and designs that work well across all devices.

io-notes-vpOne of the phrases I heard repeated in many sessions and discussions was the idea of “Micro-interactions.” That is, in terms of wearables, every interaction should be as unobtrusive as possible.

Designers and developers are encouraged to connect people and focus on the user. Jordan used a particular photo in his presentation to illustrate this point – it was a group shot of Googlers testing out a spelling game. In the photograph, everyone is laughing and looking at each other, as opposed to staring down at a smartphone.

Some other ideas discussed included adapting our lifestyle to our technology and that, with wearable computing, less is more. People may have many devices on them at any time, and those devices need to work together in a simple, powerful way. Contextual information is key – users need information that can help them, when they need it, as opposed to an overflow of information that isn’t relevant.

With the “Material Design” updates, Android Wear and other innovations, it’s clear that Google is making a strong effort to unify user experience across all platforms. Another interesting topic discussed was the idea that there are “tools for work” and “tools for life” – and when creating something, we need to be cognizant of how and where those things may overlap.

From a UI / UX standpoint, Jordan encouraged people to incorporate UX testing into their workflow, and that UI must make sense with each specific piece of technology. What works on Glass may not work on a smartwatch, which may not work on a phone … special attention must be paid to each device, and how a user receives information from it.

Whether working with Glassware, Android Wear, or any other wearable, it’s clear that what works best is the idea of “micro-interactions” and, as all Glass Explorers have heard, “getting technology out of the way.”

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