User Experience Is The Pivotal Point Where People And Machines Connect
One thing I think we can all relate to is how our own daily experiences of connecting with technology can be really enjoyable or frustrating as heck. My good lady wife dislikes technology with a passion and hates having to browse on the internet on the home computer, but she loves doing it on her tablet and will not have a word said against it. My son hated the UI experience on the phone he had, but we got him an upgrade to a different brand, and now it never leaves his hands.
I find it fascinating that in both these cases, the core functionality being used was the same but the way they interacted with the machines made a huge difference in their ability to perform the tasks they wanted to do, quickly and without frustration.
Today, in our world of industrial automation, we’re still primarily relying on PC-based user interface technology from the 1990’s. I see how much more productive we could be if we focused on improving the user experience in how we interact with machines. For me, that means the smartphone/ tablet experience being multi- touch, intuitive, and graphical. That’s also going to be the expectation of the next generation of workers coming to our industry.
Having real impact revolves around the areas of intuitiveness and ease of use relative to my industrial environment. For me, that could mean an operator interface on a machine I use while I am wearing protective gloves to monitoring a machine on a PC in the office, or checking out the machine diagnostics on my smartphone at home. In all cases, the user experience will have to be focused to allow me to do what I need to do based on the type of machine I am connected to in a specific environment.
At GE, we have moved our customers from the 1990’s to 2014 on the machine with our new QP+ Operator Interface and in the office or at home with our Proficy mobility suite, but what’s coming down the road could impact the user experience even more. Today, I am a Google Glass Explorer to try and understand how wearable technology can help. While it’s still one step at a time, there is a huge amount of productivity we can get today by moving the user experience from the 1990’s to the present day, don’t you agree?