How the Evolution of the User Interface Continues to Expand Interactivity Capabilities

By Jay Kulkarni


The constant evolution of user interface and design has greatly influenced human interactivity when it comes to marketing practices and everyday life. Now that interactivity is always on as a constant presence in modern life, it has transcended beyond marketing, impacting how the modern consumer lives and the laws that govern our privacy in the digital world.
As with any technological evolution, the innovations that have developed in terms of technology-based interactivity have greatly impacted the way modern consumers research, shop, and live their daily lives. They’ve also affected the way savvy marketing teams influence buying decisions and connect with customers.  

In terms of consumer/brand interaction, we’ve come a long way from the early days of printed catalogs like Sears Roebuck and L.L. Bean, and broadcast marketing via TV and radio that resulted in telephone orders and in-store shopping. Modern interactivity is facilitated by the ever-evolving handheld devices that penetrate the everyday lives of the consumer. The addition of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) within recent interactive marketing tactics are leading the way into a new era of interactivity with a heavy focus on consumer experience thanks to the Metaverse.

But how has the history and evolution of interactivity impacted the lives of the everyday consumer in terms of habits and privacy? And what can we expect in the future?

The Birth of Digital Interactivity

The driver of interactivity between a user and a brand can be traced to how the user interface has evolved from the early days of point-and-click to the constant tracking and analysis of day-to-day user activity. The birth of the internet and point-and-click were watershed moments in User Interface (UI) design, making interactivity from behind the computer screen less intimidating than the facetoface interactions of the past. As technology developed, innovations like handheld devices and tactical touch screens came into play, enhancing the level and ease of engagement consumers could have with brands.
Layer in the aural interactions of avatars like Siri and Alexa, which have made interactivity richer and more intimate and have created even more personalized experiences for the consumer. Now, we have fully-connected devices that can interact via voice commands, preferences, and retinal movements. This plays directly into the three most powerful of the human sensestouch, sound, and sighteffectively allowing our devices to sway our buying decisions and creating a powerful form of influence from a marketing interactivity perspective. 

The Evolution of Narrowcasting

While the origins of narrowcasting, defined as a transmission of programs to localized or specialized audiences, are in television broadcasting, interactive technologies and methodologies have expanded the limits of narrowcasting into the current digital world. With the increase in popularity of Out Of Home (OOH) and Connected TV (CTV) within marketing omnichannel strategies, the depth and reach of narrowcasting capabilities continue to evolve. 

As handheld devices became the norm and the idea of the connected home evolved, the ultimate environment for narrowcasting was created. Technology now allows marketers to leverage both narrowcasting and broadcasting content within their omnichannel strategies, enhancing that interactivity on a more personal level across social channels accessed by users on their personal devices. Modern narrowcasting has given brands and their marketing teams the insight to know more about an individuals preferences, wants, and needs than an individual may know about themselves.  

The Influence of Connected Technologies

Of course, the level of depth in modern interactivity would not be possible without the ever-increasing amount of connected devices the modern consumer depends on. In addition to phones and tablets, connected devices span most areas of modern life and allow marketing teams to leverage interactivity to their advantage. From home monitoring devices like Nest to Google and Amazon home devices and wearables, there are endless points of interactivity for the modern consumer.
Wearable devices provide very intimate levels of interactivity without the user having to actively engage with a device. These devices passively interact with body senses, gathering data for brands to leverage for marketing strategies and the enhancement of digital capabilities like telemedicine. Advancements in interactivity via these types of wearable devices is beneficial to brands and to society as whole. They not only contribute to more in-depth personalization strategies, but also enable increased accessibility to wider groups and essentials like healthcare. 
At the same time, house monitoring devices like Nest and other in-home connected devices can listen in. This provides companies and marketing teams the ability to gather preference data from our living spaces while also overlaying our lifestyle interests and purchase behavior.  
Newly designed homes and neighborhoods are all connected, with heads-up digital displays scanning crowds in real time and serving content based on crowd traffic. Consumers are receiving individualized content and messages via connected devices on a regular basis while also being exposed to more generalized messaging in public venues like stadiums, airports, and commuter hubs.
In addition, many public environments are laden with technologies that help drive the capabilities of consumer identification and targeting. Just like doorbell cameras and traffic cams, modern technology houses cameras that encircle our everyday lives with a high degree of accuracy, identifying users by age group, ethnicity, and location. These expansions of interactivity by way of innovative technology are setting the stage for an interactive digital world based on a holistic customer experience.

The Dawn of Holistic Digital Customer Experience

With the shifts in consumer behavior throughout the pandemic, we are seeing a new level of interactivity emerge in the form of AR and VR within retail and direct-to-consumer markets. Savvy brands are responding to customers’ call for more digital-based interactivity with products and services through the expansion of their omnichannel strategies into more interactive platforms and mediums. The lockdowns and necessary isolations of the past few years have created a need for retail experiences to be replicated in the virtual world, increasing the utilization of AR and VR within the buyer experience and yielding positive results.  
As we look to the immediate future, we are sure to see a scaling of AI-driven interactivity across the consumer brand and service market. Costs of video and 3D interactions will go down as need and popularity rise, and as we have witnessed over the past many months, brands from luxury fashion retailers and self-care companies to media and streaming services will supplement their marketing and outreach with AR to enhance user experience and ultimately boost sales.

Looking Into the Future

In short, the advancements of technology have greatly impacted the role that interactivity plays within our everyday lives. The modern conveniences we have come to depend on are also creating new avenues of interactivity that are only going to continue on their evolution path.
We are entering the age of the holistic digital customer experience with the adoption of interactive methodologies that allow the replication of everyday interactions into the virtual world. With the birth of the Metaverse on the horizon and rumblings of the impact of end-to-end virtual customer experience across the marketing industry, there is no doubt that the future will be based on optimizing virtual interactivity. 

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