From the Notebook: Automation and the Invisible Interface

Today, when talking about creating software interfaces we think about everything from researching how people behave, to wireframe prototypes, to interaction design. Often the result is software with screens, buttons, things to touch, logins and payment flows.

Tomorrow the experience of automation will be invisible. There will be no interface. People will be living, and things will happen for them as they go about their day.

Imagine if in the future someone purchases a puppy and it includes a lifetime care package. When the new owner arrives at home, they have everything they need.  A few days later a bag of treats comes in the mailbox. Two weeks later dog food arrives on their doorstep just in time; they would have run out of food in a few days (the intelligent automated system knows this). As the puppy gets older, new collar sizes and leashes arrive in the mail.

Automated care could continue with information on an annual checkup, the appointments pre-scheduled, training classes, dog walks, and anything that could be needed.

In this future, the experience is the interface.

As a person moves through an automated flow there will be conversation points where they interact with the automated system. These conversations are where expectations are set and feedback can be given. There are no buttons, there are no screens, just conversations, and automation.

I’m excited to see what kind of magic we can create with automation and invisible experiences.

Yet for such complex systems to feel simple new mental model patterns will need to be created, new ways to track how people engage and a renewed focus caring about people’s experience is needed.

Surprisingly this may lead to a more human type interaction between humans and machines.