Dr. Burmester, is the classic user interface soon a thing of the past and will we control computer systems simply with hand and head gestures or with voice commands?
Not exactly. In the consumer sector virtual reality certainly has a bright future. But in the workplace the introduction of technology is always coupled with the context of its use: How can virtual reality support people while they’re working? In the architecture sector, for example, virtual reality can be useful, since I can experience how a space works early on and make design corrections. But do I really need a 3D simulation of a refinery? It might look cool, but it’s not really necessary for controlling or managing a facility. And I also have glasses on my face, which could rather be distracting.
Is that also valid for augmented reality or voice commands?
Yes, here, too, you have make a differentiation. Augmented reality, for example, will be frequently used to support maintenance work. People new at a job will probably use augmented reality to make their work easier, but experts would likely find it distracting. They’d know how to disassemble a unit and would only need help with special details. Voice commands can certainly be useful, especially when both hands are needed for a task – elsewhere it might be superfluous.
Would users be satisfied with the pure functionality of user interfaces of today?
Certainly not. User interfaces have to be robust and easy to use. But nowadays we consider the criterion of a positive “user experience” nearly as important. That means I feel positive emotions both before and after usage, as well as during. This shouldn’t demote the importance of usability, but especially in the workplace of the future we have to consider: How can we make using technology an enjoyable experience?
What’s the best way to ensure a positive user experience in the workplace?
Under the auspices of the project “Design4Xperience”, supported by the German Economy Ministry, we discovered over the course of several interviews what exactly people consider a positive experience while working – initially completely removed from the technical aspect. We found, for example, that they like taking on challenges and consider it pleasant when they can help someone else. There are also positive experiences that are often underestimated: For example, simple feedback about how they are doing their job or that they are contributing towards achieving a common goal.