2018 Interactive & Immersive Forecast: Nothing is Static
This is probably the last thing you expect to hear when reading about interactive trends for the upcoming year, but here’s the hard truth: It’s pretty much the same stuff you’ve been hearing for the past decade.
See, the problem with these types of forecasts is that they’re chock full of really cool technologies with absolutely no practical applications. Developers (and over-eager business developers) start recommending them to customers without knowing how to execute them well from a user experience standpoint as well as a business one.
But, we’re living in the future, my dudes. Things that were once the stuff of science fiction are now part of our everyday lives. Powerful super-computers disguised as phones. The ability to send parts millions of miles away as 3D printer files. And all of the face-scanning, fingerprint-reading, voice-recognizing tech you could ever dream of.
So what does the immediate future hold for interactive and immersive technology?
Carry It Into 2018 – Augmented Reality
Although augmented technology reality has been around for well over a decade, it took the ubiquitous smartphone to make it a bona fide thing.
From Snapchat’s dancing hot dog to Porsche improving technical services in its dealerships with Tech Live Look, AR really came into its own in 2017 – and that trajectory into mainstream adoption is showing no signs of slowing into the New Year. Not only has Apple has made it part of its native technology with the inclusion of the AR Kit in its development tools, the technology is set to cross over into the wearables market with Magic Leap’s AR glasses.
Picking Up Steam – Virtual Reality
Man, Virtual Reality has been bubbling beneath the surface of mainstream use for what seems like forever – and 2018 may just end up being the year it finally hits its stride.
Over the past year, we’ve seen a huge drop in the prices of VR headsets, no doubt due to more competition in the marketplace (I’m looking at you Playstation VR).
When it debuted, the Oculus Rift headset and Touch motion controllers could set you back $800, not including the high-powered gaming PC needed to run it. The price tag alone was a huge barrier to adoption. But the Rift (and its parent company, Facebook) have not only dropped that down to a much more reasonable $399, it’s started supporting cheaper Oculus Ready PCs. Adding fuel to the VR fire, Facebook is reportedly looking to release a wireless VR headset in 2018 – although pared down in power, it won’t require a PC or a phone and retail at a much more palatable price point (around $200).
However, while, yeah, VR technology may be set to take off in 2018, quite frankly, new media needs to be monetized to stay viable. Our challenge as developers, marketers and content creators is to figure out how the linear advertising we’re so used to will function in a nonlinear VR environment and not distract from the immersive experience.
On the Cusp – Wearables
I’ve already touched on augmented reality’s leap into the wearable market, but what about the Apple Watches? The Fitbits? The court-ordered ankle monitors? Will 2018 be the year that wearables finally get, well, worn?
All signs point to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Although fitness trackers have dominated the wearable market so far, there are signs of that cooling. Early last year, Adidas announced the Chameleon, a fitness tracker aimed at women hoping to stay active, but by December it had abandoned the project, shuttering its digital sports division and restructuring its digital efforts.
But that doesn’t mean wearables are ready to go the way of the Nintendo Powerglove. Over the next year we’ll see more crossover between AR, VR and wearables, the emergence of hearables, as well as more practical applications in the world of healthcare. This rethinking of what a wearable is and can do may just be its saving grace – or final death rattle.
Leave It In 2017 – Web Page Design
With more than a billion sites on the web, how can web design possibly be old news?
In a lot of shops, the web development process is linear. A sitemap is created. Page designs follow the sitemap. Code turns the designs into a site. And that site lives on the Internet until the process starts all over again. But the web isn’t a linear medium. So forcing development into a linear process is inefficient, unnatural, and unnecessarily limiting.
What’s the alternative?
Here at ZG, we’ve made a conscious effort to stop designing pages and start designing systems. We think of a website as a series of components that each serve a specific UI function and adapt design around it. It’s not just how it looks, it’s how it functions, what content it support, and how it translates across digital environments. This mix and match approach may seem like a lot of extra work, but the versatility it allows cuts down on both design and development time and results in a beautiful, functional website site that can easily adapt to its owner’s content needs.
If you take away one bit of insight from this interactive trend forecast, it’s that nothing is static. Whether it’s an immersive consumer experience or marketers hoping to make web page modifications, technology, adoption, and the need to keep up with a rapidly-changing world are set to make a huge impact on how we interact with customers in the upcoming year.