The iPhone X Release Lays Groundwork
for Insights into Consumer Behavior
This year’s Apple September event highlighted products for its holiday season. Each year Apple announces new products scheduled to hit shelves during the holiday season and uses the opportunity to get consumers and industry professionals excited for the progress in innovation that they’ve made. This year, Apple announced a myriad of product releases, with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X being the most notable.
Back in 2007, Apple announced its first iPhone which shook the technology industry, revolutionizing design and development best practices as it set the stage to improve overall user experiences for mobile users. Apple hasn’t revealed news with the same innovative impact since its product reveal 10 years ago.
But isn’t it just another phone?
Apple used its event to announce both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Internally, except for the RAM, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X aren’t too different. Until you look a bit more closely.
The iPhone 8 maintains the Touch ID fingerprint scanner (on the home button) and the iPhone X removes the scanner altogether. Why? Because Apple is moving towards the use of Face ID, which will allow users to unlock their phone and perform other tasks, such as signing into specific apps. There is a notch on the top of the phone’s much larger screen, which contains Apple’s TrueDepth camera system, composed of: the front-facing camera, an infrared camera, a flood illuminator, and a dot projector (this is what is able to make a map of your face).
Technology Trends of the Future Are Available Today
If you look back through events in the past, we’ve seen Apple release software or hardware updates that are questionably futile and then witnessed the same technology gain a useful purpose the following year. Looking at historical trends, we predict that up to 35% of mobile users will invest in an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X, and with the new phones hitting shelves in the 2017-2018 holiday season, it’s important to start considering and preparing for how TrueDepth cameras and the capabilities they allow will work in your apps.
If we look at the technology featured in the new iPhone X, like the TrueDepth front-facing camera, portrait lighting, and 3D image building using FaceID, we’re already beginning to see the common uses of these features. This is the tech that we used to see in cult science fiction films being brought to life!
New Depth Cameras will Pave the Way for Augmented Reality
The TrueDepth camera allows the iPhone X user to utilize its front-facing camera to use FaceID, which detects their active gaze to be scanned by the dot projector and infrared camera to make a 3D map of a user’s face. This tool can be used to unlock a phone, and the demonstration Apple gave at its announcement was of Animoji; a user can use FaceID to animate the face of an animal emoji. This may seem like a menial feature and many critics didn’t hold back their expression of that criticism. But if we remember how Apple’s announcements have worked in the past, we must remind ourselves to think of this tech in a forward-thinking manner. FaceID is expected to open up an entirely new world and user experience for apps made with ARKit, the Augmented Reality SDK (software development kit).
Augmented Reality has been at the forefront of the minds of many in the tech industry for the last few years and we’ve begun experimenting with it at Raizlabs, as well. The biggest challenge against Augmented Reality has been the doubt that it would be accessible to consumers on a commercial level. The announcements at Apple’s recent event, however, change that. With the iPhone X and FaceID, companies will finally be able to think about how their consumers will be interacting with their product in an Augmented Reality space.
FaceID is the first step in a new interaction modality
While facial recognition has been an innovative trend in the tech community for the last few years, the ability to control your phone using facial cues and gestures is new. When TouchID was new, critics doubted how the feature would play into products, but now we see that TouchID is commonplace. Now that Apple has achieved the ability of facial recognition and control, the industry is sure to follow them into this new dimension of user experience.
What does this mean for interfaces going forward? We expect that facial recognition capabilities like the ones that the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X allows will alter how companies measure overall user engagement. The ways that we measure engagement will impact how we begin measuring user experience and will impact how we design. Moving forward, changes that the FaceID abilities bring mean we can expect interfaces with less tactile interaction, but still a different sort of physical interaction nonetheless, such as facial or phone-in-hand gestures. Given the announcement at Apple’s recent event, we expect that gaze detection is a popular technology that could be included in iPhone X’s capabilities, or later models, in the very near future.
Here are some industry use cases for how we foresee how the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera will allow for new innovations in Augmented Reality, including the use of FaceID :
FaceID will allow companies providing experiences, like movie theaters or theme parks, to streamline things like ticket purchases and ride reservations. Imagine if while buying a ticket with ApplePay, you were able to scan your face before you even arrived at a theater, or if you were able to check into a line for a specific ride when you arrive at the park.
Healthcare & Medical
Healthcare professionals are already beginning to utilize Augmented Reality for surgical training purposes, but now patients will have the ability to partake in the innovation as well. Imagine chronic pain patients using FaceID to document pain levels, or patients who are able to refill a prescription with an eye movement, or plastic surgery patients to be able to take videos that demonstrate their facial movement range in a way that is correlated with softwares that track before-and-after progress.
Hospitality & Retail
Because of its ability to permit payments through ApplePay, we expect that the hospitality industry will see many changes with the onset of FaceID. Imagine ordering food online and paying with your face. Not only is this convenient but in the not too distant future retailers may be able to monitor your emotions and provide coupons or incentives if you are frustrated. Or shopping online and adding items into a cart by changing your gaze from left to right.
Just like the days when GPS was new, the fitness industry will see many innovations with the use of FaceID. Imagine if you could catalog your emotions at the beginning or end of a workout or if you could reserve your favorite fitness class with the blink of an eye. Imagine if a personal trainer could one day use the dot projector that FaceID uses to critique the form of specific exercises you’re doing from home by doing a scan of your body and its movements.
Technology in the workplace has come a long way thanks to mobile devices. There are now training programs to help people on the Autism Spectrum interview for job opportunities more successfully. Imagine if these types of tech incorporated FaceID to help measure facial cues and eye contact. The tech could also be useful for remote employees who need to authenticate their identity for their employers while on the go.
How will this new tech effect the product process?
From a design and development standpoint, the process of creating new apps will change and evolve with how the devices are used by consumers. But will consumers be comfortable with the security of the FaceID? Will eye movements and gestures eventually lead consumers to be less dependant on buttons? As soon as the iPhone X hits shelves, we expect that processes for usability testing and your team’s process for testing users are both sure to be impacted. We’re already strategizing with our clients to predict how these new software and hardware capabilities will set up the next trends for consumer behavior. If you’re interested in learning about how your team can take advantage of the latest hardware and software in a way that will impact your customers the most, get in touch!