Will COVID-19 Change the Way We Interact with Machines?

Will COVID-19 Change the Way We Interact with Machines?

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A new report from Strategy Analytics has examined the likely long-term impact of the pandemic on consumer human-machine interface (HMI) preferences. With primary concern relating to interfaces on public devices such as ATMs and gas stations, convenience will likely be deprioritized in favor of safety, privacy, and cleanliness.

The study found that public touchscreens in contexts such as shared vehicles, rental cars, commercial kiosks etc., could become less desirable if consumers view them as health risks. While digital assistants are certainly improving and voice is already trending to become the dominant HMI, the study found that there needs to be an even greater focus on improvement of their usefulness, accuracy, and robustness.

One of the solutions is redesigning of terminals or screen hardware, to incorporate automated sanitary measures. For example, automated screen cleaning or replacing a screen protector after every use, could lessen public concern when using high frequency public touch points. Removal of touchscreens altogether, in favor of a touchless interaction such as voice or gestures, could also work to mitigate public safety fears, the study shows.

“Consumer interest in non-touch gestures will certainly increase during the pandemic and likely afterwards,” said Chris Schreiner, Director at Syndicated Research and report author. “Unfortunately, the state of both voice and gestural interfaces in addition to the noisy environments in which these devices are often located make it very premature to expect that they can take the place of a touchscreen and hard controls.”

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