We decided to take a look at some of the key areas affecting product design this year. Rapid advances in technology mean that product and experience designers behind the scenes need to make sure that the practices they engage in are keeping up. We’ve got to be up to date with the latest capabilities and trends: whether that means leveraging new technologies such as industry 4.0 or the increased focus on sustainability and the circular economy.

User Experience

UX design is always changing. In just a short few years, there’s been a mass adoption of disruptive technologies, such as voice user interface, mixed realities and smart home devices. Although the actual process of designing these experiences might have changed very little, the emergence of new technologies has given rise to new human behaviours, which require new experiences and solutions.

As we move into 2019, user-centred design will be a top priority for companies. Which puts the field of UX design firmly into the mainstream, as a compelling ingredient of the business/customer relationship. Below are some major categories which are growing

Voice User interface

The popularity of Alexa and Google Home can’t be ignored. They are the new norm, as they become users’ go-to medium to seek bite sized information, get entertained and even control their routine tasks

Wearables

According to Forbes, the numbers of active wearables will be around 240 million by 2021. Wearables are designed to provide users with key metrics around health, making payments and managing to-do lists and even more. In 2018, smartwatches became even more sophisticated. The recently released Apple Watch Series 4 proved that wearables are no longer a fad or short lived trend by offering a cellular service, potentially replacing the mobile phone.

Sustainability 

Due to the undeniable reports and evidence of human caused climate change and natural disasters, apparel and consumer product brands are and will continue to develop products with longevity and quality in mind. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the effects of over consumption. The end result is that product design will become more conscious.  A report by the Retail Industry Leaders association (RILA) found that 93% of global consumers expect more of the brands they use to support local, social and environmental issues, so much so that millennials are willing to make sure that the products they consume are environmentally sound.

Industry 4.0

Manufacturing technologies are advancing at a faster rate than ever before. In such a fast-paced and busy environment, it can be hard to cut through the information and noise to get to what really matters and what will really make a difference. Industry 4.0-related technologies are driving much of the changes that are currently taking place in manufacturing. This applies in all sectors, but it is particularly important in high-specification and highly regulated industries like pharmaceutical manufacturing and medical device manufacturing.If you’re in one of these or a related industry, here are a few Industry 4.0 trends that will influence manufacturing in 2019.

Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality

Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality can be applied in manufacturing facilities in several ways. This includes product design, production line development, driving OEE improvements, technical and engineering support, training, team collaboration, inventory management, and more.

These technologies help businesses work more effectively while also making them more efficient. An example of their application includes using augmented and virtual reality to design a new production line or product, perfecting it in the virtual world before real-world prototyping or production begins.

Another is an engineer providing remote engineering support on a specialist machine on your production line using mixed reality. In this situation, your facility and engineer can be located on the other side of the world to the technical support engineer.

Digital twin technologies

Digital Twins are an emerging technology that will become an increasingly important tool in manufacturing facilities. A Digital Twin is an exact virtual replica, updated in real-time, of a physical object, process, or product.

The applications for this technology in manufacturing are far-reaching. One example is having a Digital Twin of a piece of equipment – or your entire production line – where engineers can run simulations and where machine learning technologies can predict breakdowns, plan maintenance schedules, improve OEE, and more.

IOT

In 2019, IOT technology will leave the house, Forrester believes that IOT is poised to make a much bigger impact in our lives at work and around town. City councils are already exploring how IoT solutions can make cities safer and more efficient by implementing connected lighting, parking systems, and even trash cans. Smart manufacturing helps companies increase their production levels while creating higher-quality products. Smarter supply chains will ensure there’s more visibility into where products are and if they’re in the correct condition—even helping ensure our food is safer. Devices ranging from elevators to turbines can signal when they need maintenance, before they break. The list goes on. IoT will continue to make an impact in nearly every industry including healthcare, retail, agriculture, and more.

Rapid advances in technology mean that the people behind the scenes need to make sure that the practices they engage in are keeping up. Individuals who focus on product design need to be sure that they are staying abreast with the latest capabilities and trends: whether that means leveraging new technologies  or improving collaboration.

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