June 21, 2017  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  IoT, medical device, UX
Here at ICS we’re excited about how the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the lives of people every day — a topic we’ve been covering from all angles. For instance, my colleague Jeff Tranter described how IoT fits into the Qt ecosystem while Dorothy Shamonsky has written about the design challenges posed by the expanding number of IoT devices. Me, I’m most intrigued by the way connected smart devices are transforming healthcare. According to Gartner (1), there will be more than 8 billion connected devices in use worldwide this year and close to 21 billion by 2020. But what does it take...
December 7, 2016  •  By Eric Stone  •  Qt, IoT, Arduino, XBee
In part one of this blog series, I gave an overview and described the hardware setup for an IoT example application that uses a Qt-based desktop program and an Arduino with XBee wireless modules. In part two, we'll cover the software configuration and programming. Configuring and Programming the XBee Module The XBees need to be programmed and configured so that they can communicate with each other. Both applications interact with the XBee as a serial port device. Our Qt application will use Qt's QSerialPort class to interact with the XBee and the Arduino will use Arduino'...
November 21, 2016  •  By Eric Stone  •  Qt, IoT, Arduino, XBee
In this two-part series, we'll look at an interesting Internet of Things (IoT) application that uses an Arduino controller and two XBee wireless modules in conjunction with a Qt-based application. Part 1 provides an overview, demonstrates communication between two applications using the XBee, and describes the hardware setup. Part 2 covers the configuration and programming of both the desktop application and the Arduino code. Introduction There are many different XBee models available with various wireless protocols, line of sight ranges, data transmission rates, RF...
March 30, 2016  •  By Jeff Tranter  •  Internet of Things, IoT, Qt
This is the second and final installment of my blog series on Qt and the Internet of Things, based on a presentation (1) I gave at the Qt World Summit 2015 entitled The Internet of Things: What Is It and Why Should I Care? In the first blog post I discussed what IoT was, covered some terminology and sample products, projected growth and market opportunities and what it means to software developers. In this post, I will look at some of the popular hardware platforms for IoT, mention a few of the key protocols, hardware technologies and software frameworks and discuss some of the areas...
February 17, 2016  •  By Jeff Tranter  •  Internet of Things, IoT, Qt, Internet of Everything
Gartner, Inc. forecast last year that 4.9 billion connected devices would be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and the number will reach 25 billion by 2020. They describe the Internet of Things (IoT) as "a powerful force for business transformation, and its disruptive impact will be felt across all industries and all areas of society." What exactly is IoT? As a software developer, does it really represent something new? In this blog post, the first of a series, I will present an overview of IoT, covering what IoT is and is not and define some terms. I will also list some...
October 19, 2015  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  Internet of Things, IoT, UX, User Experience
At the expense of some minor spoilers for a seven-year-old movie, the post-credit cut scene in Iron Man (2008) showed Tony Stark walking into his dark home and calling for his virtual butler J.A.R.V.I.S. to turn on the lights. Fast-forwarding to 2015, we can now do that, more or less, courtesy of the Internet of Things (IoT). Here at ICS, we’ve been working with IoT technology for some time now, and it’s been very exciting work. Some of my colleagues have written various blog posts on the topic over the last several months such as the Internet of Things: Easy to Use is...
Does the Distinction Matter to User Experience Designers? Qualcomm and Cisco have been pushing the term, Internet of Everything (IoE) while most others are using the term Internet of Things (IoT). As could be expected, confusion about the difference between the two has ensued. Is there a difference or is it just rhetoric? Some people use them interchangeably but there is a clear conceptual difference. IoE encompasses a wider scope and takes into consideration the infrastructure needed and the potential impacts that will occur on data, privacy, security and usability as a result of...
The user experiences (UXs) of Internet-enabled devices that are part of the Internet of Things (IoT) are expected to require little or no learning for users to be effectively proficient with them. As these devices proliferate, it’s inconceivable that users will have any patience to figure out complex or confusing user experiences. This is particularly so with public devices where the time that any one user might engage with a device is measured in minutes. How does a designer deal with this dilemma? To add to the challenge, many of these connected devices are not built upon platforms...
June 16, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  Internet of Things, IoT, user experiences, UX, Design
The Internet of Things (IoT) will be an opportunity for new kinds of user experiences (UXs) to proliferate - smart, ambient, minimal and wearable. These new interactive experiences will need to be very appealing and easy to use. In other words, these new devices and systems must possess a very high level of usability; users/consumers have come to expect that. This is good news for designers because it ensures that their skills will be highly valued as the IoT grows in scope and size. However, employing high UX standards are not the only factor at play here. The number of IoT devices...
The emergence of the Internet of things (IoT) is reshaping our relationship with computing technology, including the interface paradigms that we use to interact with digital technology. Touch has replaced mechanical pointers such as the mouse on some classes of devices, notably mobile. Speech recognition is slowly finding appropriate use cases where hands-free interaction is desirable, such as in-vehicle devices. Physical movement is the interaction with wearables that track your activity. With all of this change, the question becomes will the once ubiquitous Graphical User Interface (GUI)...
Integrated Computer Solutions (ICS) is known for its expertise in user interface design and software implementation for embedded, mobile, desktop and interactive kiosk systems. Our work is visible in everything from smartphones to vending machines and medical equipment to vehicles of all sizes. What has less visibility – literally – is our low-level work with hardware, operating systems and device drivers.  A recent project related to the Internet of Things gave us a chance to highlight some of these capabilities. Internet of Things, or IoT for short, is the latest thing in high tech...
If you are not yet honing your design skills for the Internet of Things (IoT), I’m about to light your fire. I don’t generally buy into technology hype. As designers, we tend to remain calmly skeptical about incitements coming from our business and marketing departments. However, the predicted growth and market penetration of smart devices is frankly staggering. I can only imagine that user experience (UX) design skills for smart devices will be in huge demand. Before the introduction of smartphones in the early 2000’s, IoT devices were estimated at about 50 million worldwide. The...
April 20, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  IoT, User Experience, UX, Internet of Things
Users find it frustrating and reluctantly accept the fact that connection to the Internet sometimes has glitches. Wait times are the norm. Users are accustomed to the cursor loading slowly, popping up periodically and at times needing to try a second or third time in order to connect to an online site. However, users perceive devices that are part of the Internet of Things (IoT) differently. These new products are more black box in function than a computer, tablet or phone. The fact that a device is dependent on a connection to the Internet to operate properly is not so obvious to the user...
Digital signage (DS) is one of the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that are invading our lives, for better or worse. I recently attended the Digital Signage Expo 2015, ₁ where I had the opportunity to lead a round table discussion on “Content Strategies for Interactive Retail Kiosks.” ₂ Why talk about kiosks at a DS conference? Interactivity, of course, is one of the cutting edge elements of digital signage. An interactive digital sign is essentially the same thing as a simple interactive kiosk. Interactivity is a natural evolutionary direction of DS technology. It’s a...
March 2, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  Internet of Things, IoT, User Experience, UX
When designing a user experience, we usually assume we are engaging a user’s center of attention, albeit short. We design an experience that will be a user’s primary focus or foreground activity for the duration of their engagement with a device, whether it be on a desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. In an attempt to provide added utility, we design reminders, such a notifications and badges that can inform users of unread messages and overdue updates.   Personally speaking as a user, I already have notification overload. Although the idea is sound, notifications and badges may be...
So often, the Internet of Things (IoT) is discussed in terms of the technology that enables it, particularly focusing on cool, smart gadgets that will propagate in our lives. There is inevitably mention of in-vehicle entertainment and navigation, smart home appliances, wearables and robots. At its foundation, the IoT represents a whole lot of technological innovation, albeit driven by certain human desires, but herein holds many opportunities for usability design! User experience (UX) designers will need to meet the challenge of making all of these new devices and services a success with...
January 29, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  Internet of Things, IoT, User Experience, UX, context of use
As the Internet of Things (IoT) proliferates, some user experience (UX) designers will migrate to working on unique one-off computer appliances rather than platform specific apps. On IoT projects there are likely to be more context of use issues to consider because: Devices can exist in a myriad of locations Devices will not always depend on existing platforms with pre-designed interaction patterns The most appropriate interaction modality will have to be selected from a list of options including pointer, keyboard, speech, touch and air gestures.  Context of Use Definition...
December 22, 2014  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  Internet of Things, UX, User Experience, touchscreens
During 2014, the user experience (UX) group at ICS worked on our usual fare of mobile and desktop apps, but we also saw a large expansion of embedded device projects that fall into three categories: kiosk information systems, in-vehicle infotainment systems (IVI) and robotics control systems. Each area presents unique and complex challenges for a UX designer. However, we noticed some common requests between all three of those areas: the preference for touchscreens and the desire to be connected to the Internet. This implies that the UX challenges tend to fall into two categories: the tangible...