I have been using the iPad daily for about 6 weeks and love it. It is a great media computer for video (abc.com and netflix are fantastic), newspapers and books (my Kindle books have new life with the superb graphics). The browsing experience is great and of course the games are plentiful (Scrabble and Jumbline are recent favorites).
What is not clear is how (notice I don’t say “if”) the iPad will infiltrate the enterprise. If I had to place a bet on what makes the iPad a game changer, it’s the multi-touch input. But what’s the big deal? It’s really cool to watch Minority Report and think about a new way to interact with your data. That’s not what makes multi-touch really special though. The real a-ha for me was seeing CollaboRythm, (< make sure to watch this video) an interactive patient communication system at the MIT Media Lab a few weeks ago presented by Dr. John Moore. In it, he discusses drug options with a diabetic patient interactively using a single touch screen display that both of them interact with simultaneously.
What impacted me was how Dr. Moore created a system that really integrated with the doctor – patient conversation rather than something that just generated graphs or a report. It is this kind of collaborative, multi-user system that the iPad can bring to the enterprise in a compact and cost-effective way.
Interactive Design is the iPads Killer App
One of my first real jobs was as a developer for a small vendor of life insurance illustration software, in Windows 1.o days no less. Agents use these apps to show the value of a life or annuity product over time by entering parameters on their laptops and generating reports. It was and still is largely a data table driven process – a lot of numbers and some graphs. Now, imagine this process done interactively with an agent AND the customer interacting with the inputs and outputs on an iPad in a visual and iterative way. It could change the whole insurance buying experience.
Some game developers have latched onto the multi-user model. To get an idea of what multiple people look like interacting with the iPad at the same time, look at short videos of Harbor Master HD and Tower Madness HD. Many UI models are possible, including multiple people interacting with the same visual and split screen. The iPad screen real estate seems to be large enough to handle multiple hands at the same time without covering it.
The opportunities are limitless for experimenting with a multi-user application. Here are a few ideas:
- Investment portfolio allocation, drag in and out various funds, stocks, etc. and see the mix and investment types change dynamically
- Car or boat configuration, look at the sight lines with various options, and watch the price change too!
- Interactive plan-o-gramming in-store with the vendor and store manager
Many of these UI concepts could be used in a single user mode. However, the real values of collaborative design are in giving the customer direct control and having an expert there with a customer supercharging the design process. What do you think?
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