IoT Devices: Why Accessibility Should Be Your First Priority | TechWell

IoT Devices: Why Accessibility Should Be Your First Priority

The Internet of Things has made it even more fun to look toward the future. It wasn’t that long ago when we fantasized about how technology could and would impact our daily lives—with more intuitive vehicles, kitchen appliances, and input devices modeling your home after an episode of The Jetsons.

It was exciting to picture, but it never felt all that real. The future always seemed like just that—a far-off reality that we might never actually see in our lifetime. However, with the Internet of Things connecting everything from refrigerators to watches to the Internet, the future we once dreamed about is feeling much more like the present.

But just because something is new, shiny, and more fully featured doesn’t mean that everyone is going to want to use it. Even if your IoT-enabled smart grill is voice-activated and built to cook the perfect medium-rare steak, it still has to be both consistently functional and as easy to use as a regular grill.

Accessibility is an IoT concept that Kevin Rohling, VP of product at Emberlight, continues to push. That new device shine and smell can make it difficult to resist buying any fresh gadget that promises to improve your quality of life, but Rohling understands that more often than not, you need more than flashy features to keep customers around.

“At the end of the day, what do consumers want? They want things that just freaking work, and they want it to work as easily as the things that they have in their house do right now,” he told StickyMinds. “... Your oven is pretty easy; you know to open your fridge. You don't expect things in your house to be difficult to use, and that's really difficult to beat.”

The early adopters are going to buy the stream of devices that leverage the Internet of Things to ride the bleeding edge of technology. Startups and major corporations alike, though, need to think about how they can woo the more casual, average consumer by providing easy-to-use devices that feel just as intuitive and natural as whatever they’ve grown comfortable with. This will only grow in importance, with more than half of business processes and systems making use of the Internet of Things by 2020.

The first round of IoT devices might not hit every note, but trial and error will likely lead to smarter, more user-friendly iterations that nail one of the most important features: accessibility. Before long, using your smart door with its smart knob and smart lock should feel like second nature.

“At the end of the day, you want users to have to put in as little work as possible,” Rohling said.

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January 25, 2016

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