Multi-interaction interfaces


What’s your favourite interface for communication? Maybe it’s speech, gesture, or touch, or maybe – when you’re working online – it’s the humble keyboard?

If it’s the latter interface, you’re not alone – most people still choose to communicate with a system through the traditional input means of keyboard and mouse. But modes of interaction are changing.

The reasons for such change are twofold. First, alternative forms of communication – such as speech, pen and body movements – are becoming viable methods for controlling devices. Second, the up-and-coming cadre of online youngsters demand multiple modes of interaction.

Such multiplicity might seem strange to Generation X – usually people born between 1960 and 1980 – who spend most of their time communicating through email, phone or SMS text messaging.

When they’re using one particular platform, individuals from Generation X don’t like to be interrupted by a message on another system; such multiplicity creates a sense of panic rather than satisfaction. The opposite is true for Generation Y.

New millennials are used to working with a range of interfaces at the same time. While logged on to Facebook, youngsters will be undertaking simultaneous conversations through instant messaging (IM) and video communication through Skype.

But what do such changes mean for business? More than just logging on through the keyboard, Generation Y individuals are looking to maintain multiple sessions with companies on a range of platforms.

A consumer applying for car insurance through one particular portal will be contrasting quotes through a comparison site, talking to a call centre agent through a head set and analysing the opinions of friends through IM.

Businesses need to be ready to offer their customers multiple means for interaction. More to the point, they also need to monitor a range of collaboration channels – because that is what their Generation Y clients will be doing.

The fast-changing nature of technology means the modes for interaction will only continue to evolve. Research on human-computer interaction means individuals will be able to input information through diverse formats, increasing usability and access to digital media.

Such change all means your business will need to be ready for a new era of multi-interaction interfaces. Because if you’re not ready, your new customers certainly will be.

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