Top interaction design predictions for 2017

December 4, 2017

Technology is always evolving, so we always try to keep one eye on the latest trends, and it’s around Christmas time that we get our festive hats on and imagine what the next year will have in store.


What will be that latest piece of tech or the cool interaction mechanic that everyone will want to embed in their product or service. Of course, predicting the future isn’t easy, and I’m sure we’ll probably re-read this in 12 months time and raise a few eyebrows.

Here are our digital trend predictions for 2017:

A Proliferation of micro-haptic UI

Haptic feedback in itself is nothing new, experiencing a sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions has been around for years. In the 1970s haptic feedback was popularised in video arcade games and who remembers the proliferation of the “Rumble Pak”, suddenly forces experienced in-game could be felt for real by the player.

And now over 40 years on, we see a new resurgence in the adoption of haptic feedback in digital products. Although the technology still has some way to go, it is widely accepted that haptic touch is fundamental to a decent VR experience. And of course smart watches now come with haptic feedback, with variations in rhythm vibrating your wrist to denote different alerts and functions.

This started us thinking about the possibilities that may open up to us when designing user interfaces with haptics. Imagine viewing a photo of a crocodile and being able to feel the textures of it’s exoskeleton or the slippery smoothness of a snake as it appears on your screen.

Will we start to feel a UI? E-commerce experiences could detect your purchasing intentions and prompt you with a vibration as you near that buy button. Positive actions could be rewarded with a polite touch for the user, whilst negative actions could result in a firm vibration. It’s these micro-haptic interactions that we see influencing UI design next year. How can we include these subtle cues into our interfaces and what impact will they have on our users.

Oh on another, slightly related note, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Google’s Project Soli.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

WestworldEx MachinaHer we’ve all seen what the Hollywood thinks the future holds for AI and how terrifying (read: amazing) it could be. But, what about AI - in the short term and what about 2017!


We are seeing the rise of AI and machine learning in so many aspects of our life. Automated Insights, a company in the US, are using artificial intelligence to create “human sounding” news articles. Their system is fed meta-data, from which it automatically chooses the most salient points. It then adds emotive language, chooses and re-arranges words to create the appearance of a human written article. You’ll be surprised just how much you read nowadays has either been completely or partially written by a computer. Computer generated articles are even more accurate than their human written equivalents.

“Your AI powered personal assistant for scheduling meetings”. — is another great example of where AI is helping us with save time with normal day-to-day tasks. Imagine never having to go back and forth with colleagues trying to find a suitable meeting slot. Well imagine no more, just cc on your next meeting email and let Amy do the rest.

Another interesting area is the rise of AI in translation services. Here you can see just how close Google’s Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) system has got to near human translation.


In this interesting read by the NY Times, they go into more detail about the rise in accuracy of real-time translation engines.

We also love thinking about the possibilities that could open up when technologies are mixed, imagine when AI and augmented reality combine. A world where we could augment your pet with an artificially intelligent version of itself. Discussing current affairs, the places they’ve visited and how their day has been through an augmented mouth (think MSQRD app)and an AI chat bot.

Rise of progressive web apps (PWAs)

People prefer to shop online via their mobile web browser than via an app, 66% of all mobile purchases are made via the mobile web. This means that branded e-commerce app experiences are not resonating with consumers. Take a look at your home-screen, I bet there are not loads of retailer specific mobile applications on there.

Native app experiences have historically been seen as slicker than their mobile web counterparts. And until recently, the benefits of the native app have struggled to transfer to the web.

“PWAs aim to address some of the shortcomings of traditional mobile web applications. Progressive apps add functionality to mimic some of the capabilities of native applications based on the capabilities of the underlying browser and operating system.”

— Peter Traeg

The major advantage of a PWA over a native app is, in theory, you only need to develop it once and it should easily port onto different devices.

In this article, Owen Campbell-Moore talks about the importance of borrowing as much UX as possible from equivalent native interfaces. The success of a progressive web app will rely on it’s ability to replicate and improve upon the UI of a native application.

And of course, operators like Apple take 30% for selling digital products via apps, so going the PWA route could be a way for creators to claw back some of their revenue.

Google has a handy guide to Progressive Web Apps that is well worth a read.

David Bowie, Trump, Brexit, Prince!!! 2016 certainly has been a crazy year and the list of crazy happenings goes on and on. So in part we’ll be glad to see the back of it. But it’s been a great year of discovery for Furthermore, so we look to 2017 with excitement.

Next year we’ll be looking to see how the Trump presidency and the Brexit negotiations affect our industry, not to mention the recent “snoopers charter”.

We’re sure that 2017 will be just as crazy as it’s predecessor so we’re really looking forward to seeing what crops up and how it affects us. Thanks to everyone who has made 2016 so much fun for us at Furthermore!

This insight was brought to you by our managing partner Steve Johnson.

This post was originally posted on Medium, follow us here.

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