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Can a User Interface Change the World?
Customer Experience Forum '10: A Forrester Research vice president demonstrates technology that can sense and recognize movement.
Posted Jul 29, 2010
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NEW YORK — James McQuivey believes a forthcoming product for Xbox 360 will "change the world."

That's what McQuivey, a Forrester Research vice president and analyst, told a packed ballroom in the Grand Hyatt on Day Two of the recent Forrester Research Customer Experience Forum 2010. Changes in userinterfaces, he said, have altered the way customers experience products. He was both energetic and insightful as he tracked the history of user interfaces from the invention of the television remote control to the iPhone touch screen.

The keynote examined three questions:

  • How do today's new interfaces change everything?
  • What does it mean to live in the "Era of Experience?" and
  • What can businesses do to lead in this era rather than follow?

Citing a study by Forrester, McQuivey detailed how the transformation of computer interfaces helped increase the number of homes containing personal computers. When MS DOS 1.0 was released in 1982 less than five percent of homes had personal computers in them. After Macintosh Plus was launched in 1986, the percentage rose to roughly 10 percent, due in large part to the computer's click-mouse feature, according to McQuivey. Windows 3.0 helped the computer rise in popularity when it was released in 1990, and its easy-to-use interface made possible the World Wide Web.

McQuivey likened these groundbreaking transformations to Apple's touch-screen iPhone. He argued that improvements to user interfaces will accelerate, thus causing brands to refocus the products they create and the experiences these products cause.

The next groundbreaking user interface, according to McQuivey, will be Kinect for Xbox 360, a product that allows game play to occur sans controller — imagine Nintendo Wii without the annoying wands and nunchuks. Kinect utilizes PrimeSense optical sensing and recognition technologies. The product, which was unveiled on June 1 of last year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, will available on November 4.

PrimeSense technology, according to the company's Web site, gives digital devices a three-dimensional view of the world. The technology gives devices the ability to see and understand the world like humans do, and revolutionize the way we interact with devices and the place devices take in our lives.

According to McQuivey, PrimeSense technology will urge businesses to ask: What role does touch, movement, and visualization play in total product or service experience? "The ability to capture these senses on an optical lens should not be solely used for gaming," he said. McQuivey demonstrated how PrimeSense can allow consumers to "visit" a car dealership and take three-dimensional tours of selected vehicles.

McQuivey offered three pieces of advice to businesses looking to capitalize on what he calls "the era of experience." He said companies should know their customers, exploit the customers' senses, and "open the experience box." Businesses should then enhance customer profiles with an "interface acumen" score, in which companies detail how many customers currently use a multi-touch interface, engage voice control, and use a full body interface.

"Don't wait for those interface acumen scores to rise too high," McQuivey said. "Your competitors are eager to beat you to the experience punch." 

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