Touchless Interactions - The Challenges and Benefits 2

Touchless Interactions – The Challenges and Benefits

The way in which we engage with technology is forever evolving. From the days where we were rooted to desktop computers using a cabled mouse and cabled keyboard, to the life changing smartphone which opened a whole new world of possibilities right at our very fingertips. With the continuous advancements in technology we can now navigate the digital landscape through touchless interfaces using gesture, voice, biometrics and more. 

We’ve come a long way, fast.

I personally remember first fully experiencing and appreciating motion sensing devices via the Xbox Kinect, it was fascinating playing interactive games by simply mimicking the actions of an athlete or trying to navigate the Xbox UI by talking aloud. Never did I imagine we would be using this kind of technology in our day to day lives so freely, naive of me perhaps.

Now look at us, we can confidently play music by using voice commands, unlock our phones or pass through airport security with facial recognition, make contactless payments with our smart devices and identify where people are looking through eye-tracking software, none of which require ‘touch’. 

The global pandemic undoubtedly had an impact on touchless interaction, it heightened interest and accelerated the adoption from necessity. From touchless sanitising dispensers to biometrics, it’s quickly become the new norm and is now an integral part of modern user experiences.

Common Methods

Lets look at some of the different methods we can utilise to create touchless interactions:

Gesture Recognition

One of the main technologies that enables touchless interaction is gesture recognition, using sensors and cameras to interpret movement to perform actions such as navigation, scrolling and zooming.

Voice Control

Probably the most obvious way of interacting is by using our voice, with the advancements in technology and natural language processing, devices can understand and perform commands swiftly. 

Proximity 

Another way of enabling touchless interactions is by proximity sensing, ultrasound and infrared signals can detect our presence and distance to trigger actions. 

Augmented Reality 

Finally, computer vision and graphics overlaying objects in the real world creating immersive and interactive experiences without touching the screen.

These are some of the most common methods which will continue to improve over time however, the swiftness and accuracy in response to a users’ actions are critical to their success. As user experience (UX) experts we must strive for simplicity and intuitiveness, providing clear instructions to enable confident friction-free interactions. 

Drawbacks

The thought of simply waving your hands to interact may seem powerful but this interaction could soon disappoint if the accuracy and feedback is untimely. Accuracy applies across a number of touchless interactions, voice in the shape of interpreting commands, accuracy of overlays in AR interfaces and the accuracy of proximity sensors to avoid unintentional interactions.

We’re familiar with using voice commands for Siri and Alexa in our own homes where privacy is less of a concern, but voice might not always be the best form of interaction, talking aloud sensitive information in a public place would be far from ideal.

These are just some of things to consider when designing for touchless interactions, careful consideration should be taken when deciding how best your users will interact with your product. Using touchless interactions can undoubtedly improve the accessibility and usability of a product when used correctly, as well as creating more efficient and user-friendly experiences.

Potential Uses

It’s difficult to predict the future and even keep up with the latest examples. Some of these may even exist already but some industries where touchless interactions could be invaluable are healthcare. From checking into your appointments to surgical procedures there are obvious hygiene benefits. 

Retail is another obvious sector, checking stock, sizing and price with your gaze or trying on outfits in virtual changing rooms without dropping your bags. 

Entertainment, an industry which in my opinion is at the forefront of touchless technology will continue to lead the way in touchless interactions, inspiring other industries to incorporate their tried and tested methods. 

Summary

The question that remains is how do we harness the full potential of touchless interactions and create impactful, seamless, and delightful user experiences? We need to look beyond touch screens and clickable calls to action, consider the environment in which these technologies are used without risk. We also need to consider the context in which the user will be engaging with this type of technology. Are their hands full, is there a risk of contracting germs or is there a lack of privacy, there are many things to consider.

Undoubtedly, touchless interactions are here to stay and there are challenges to overcome but with our careful consideration, thorough planning and iterative approach we can create life changing experiences. If you need help with your touchless concepts, speak to one of our experts today.

Marc Bowers
Marc Bowers
Articles: 13

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