Our technologically-driven world is incredibly fast-moving and fast-changing, seemingly in adherence to Moore’s law. Technology is becoming exponentially smaller and more powerful year on year, and there is nothing to suggest things might slow down any time soon. As developers, designers, and testers, it is our job to stay aware of developments and make predictions to help shape the technological landscape of tomorrow.
Tech Trends to Look Out for
- Wearables – While early hype over wearables, particular devices such as Google Glass, disappointingly fizzled, a slow but steady resurgence of wearable tech is becoming increasingly mainstream. VR headsets in the workplace to augment physical processes that are carried out and the range of now commonplace health trackers are likely to become more integrated into our daily lives.
- Voice Operation – The number of internet voice searches are increasing year on year, and the way people are searching for things is changing. As AI assistants grow in sophistication, and users increasingly navigate with their voice, a new arena of QA testing is opening up. We need to have a greater understanding of the language, dialect, and accent differences that will affect how people interact with voice-operated products.
- Automation – A 2017 McKinsey report predicted that 400 million to 800 million jobs worldwide could be automated by 2030. While this will have significant societal impacts, it is important to understand the opportunities these changes present and how these systems and the algorithms work that power them, so you can stay ahead of the curve.
- Internet of Things – As increasingly more everyday objects become smart and connected, we software developers and testers need to understand not only how the entire Internet of Things interfaces with other assets, and humans interface with their smart objects, but also explore the limitations and the possibilities they create.
- Facial Recognition – As with voice navigation, the new ways we are encouraged to interact with our technology could have huge ramifications, sometimes negative and potentially damaging, if executed poorly or without consideration. Looking out for ways in which facial recognition may unlock opportunities for us to interact with our devices is as important as understanding how our identity and human data are being used, with – and without – our consent.
A Framework for the Future
Regardless of technological innovations that may be around the corner, QA testers and software developers need to be adaptable and innovative in their approach to understanding and testing any new technology. No matter what the product, interface, or tech trend, there is a constant that we must always keep in mind, and that is – people. We are designing and testing all these products to interact with and to improve the lives of people.
With this in mind, we need to consider the following:
- Who is this technology directed at, and who is the ideal customer?
- What is the ultimate goal of the person using this technology, and does our product truly help them achieve it?
- Do I understand the complete user journey of those interacting with the product?
- Does my user have any physical limitation, disability, or age-related condition that needs to be considered?
- Are we designing interactive experiences that include as many people as possible?
An Aging Population in a World of New Technology
If there is one thing the future can guarantee, it is an aging population as the number of elderly people continues to increase. For example, in 1998, the percentage of the UK population aged 65 and over was one in six people (15.9%), and it is predicted to rise to nearly one in four (24.2%) by 2038, according to the latest population survey at UK Office for National Statistics.
So, to future-proof your QA processes and methodologies, an even greater emphasis on the elderly user is needed, and to consider their specific requirements – both physically and in relation to the tech-savviness of this ageing demographic.
As technological advances continue, product users are becoming more diverse and we are presented with even more choices for achieving our goals, as the digital products evolve. Because the linear user journey seems to be a thing of the past, we need to know the various touchpoints used by people interacting with our products. It is our responsibility to keep people at the heart of our design, development, and QA testing processes so we will be ready for whatever the future throws at us.