“Ambient” user experience about to change everything


In his article, “Here comes the age of ambient everything,” Mike Elgan says there are five trends merging that will make “everything ambient” — mobile notification, wearables, location-based commerce, pre-emptive search, and the Internet of things.

By ambient, he means “information just appears, scrolls by and then vanishes, mostly in the cognitive background. … It will just be there with us all the time.”

Elgan reminds us that users don’t think in terms of “context,” only how the experience meshes into their current environment. Information will appear at the right time, in the right place, in the right context. And on the right device. 

“Ambience” is the user experience of that implementation: It “feels” like it’s part of the environment, or simply “harvested out of the air.”

This is the logical evolution of the issues with predictive services that I wrote about last month. The devices and software will anticipate and present information in such a way (when properly done) that it will feel like a natural extension of our external experience.

Real-time news publication will continue to evolve and fast-follow with the various publication channels — social, native app, Web — as they adapt to the new platforms/services.

As the user becomes more adapted to being served content, and not taking breaks to consume discrete topics, we will be more dependent on pushing stories to them in real time.

Don’t underestimate this opportunity.

Most publishers have a good deal of long-tail content — as well as older news, and even native content — that can be re-conceptualised into a pro-active service framework. This provides opportunities to give new life to all those topic pages, guide sections, and other hard data we collect but often have difficulty re-using.

Ever-changing platform and presentation models will only increase experimentation and the need for quick adaptability.

This will happen far sooner than we will all be comfortable with.

Despite the Google Glass hype, sports and health-related wearable devices are the poster children for the coming tsunami. They’re the gateway to broader mass adoption for a multitude of platforms. As a result, “ambient” services will become more visible – and necessary to help the user manage their devices and the information they provide.

That FitBit you’re putting under the tree might have more significance than you thought.

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