The Unsung Tablet

Every week on The UX Blog Podcast, Nicholas Tenhue interviews user experience professionals about current trends, hot topics, and their careers. Subscribe on your favorite podcast player!

chris lahiri

Chris is the UX practice director at Silicus Technologies, a Houston-based turnkey cloud services firm. Chris and his team pursue a consumer-grade standard for usable and visually immersive enterprise software.

This is part 2 of a 2 part series with Chris Lahiri, we hear Chris talk about The Unsung Tablet.

Transcript

Nicholas Tenhue: Hello everyone and welcome to yet another episode of the UX blog. This is the second part of the two part series with Chris Lahiri. In the first half we talked about his journey through UX and a little about UX certifications specifically the Nielsen Norman Group UX certification program which Chris has taken and applied a lot of the learning and materials to his work and his team as a UX Practice Director.

In this episode we’re going to talk about the Unsung Tablet. So Chris, take it away.

Chris Lahiri: back in 2012, I was in South by South-west, that’s when Elon Musk was there. I was one of the lucky ones who had a chance to see him. There were several different seminars going on at the time and one of the ones I went to kind of was talking about how we think about new technology and they had an example of a car, an early car that looked very much like a horse and carriage.

The point that they were trying to make and I wish I could remember who it was that was doing this with but the point is that we were trying to make was that we really derive new technology from our experiences in the past.

Nicholas Tenhue: Right, like conceptual horizon as in we can’t think about a car if we can’t think about a horse and carriage before that.

Chris Lahiri: So those things start to develop their own look and feel based on newer needs and evolutions in the culture and technology. So a car looks very different now than it did back in the hay day of automobile technology when it was first arriving and so the tablet kind of started out as a really big phone and that was interesting. I think it was really heralded as a creatively bankrupt exercise in trying to create something for the sake of creating something, right?

For a while I think, a lot of it had to do with the app ecosystem that wasn’t very supportive of tablet. It was just like, “oh this is a really big phone app that can now experience in a wider, in a much larger 1024x68 aspect ratio right?”

So, in these dimensions, there’s a lot more that can be done and I’ve been very interested in that space. I don’t know if it’s my age demographic or I enjoy gaming in the tablet of what but I’ve had some experiences just like kind of playing in the space.

It was a few years back that Atlanta happens to be a really big city for the media. There are turner networks out there and several others. I happen to be at a group that was working for The Conan Show and they had just come out with the new Conan app and if you watched TV and you had your app open while watching Conan, it would sync up in some sort of in audible sound track going on in the live broadcast and sync up with the show and provide little fun things to complement the show on the tablet.

Nicholas Tenhue: That’s fantastic!

Chris Lahiri: Yeah, so there are some fun things going on in that space. We are entering this multi-screen world just a few years ago. At this point, I think it’s given if you can have it at least one screen open at the same time that you’re watching TV but that’s how things are being defined in the tablet space.

I think still to this day, the tablet remains as really ancillary feeling tool, it seems like its powerful in that sense, but it seems like that’s how it’s being defined.

I argue that the tablet is a unique user experience context, there could be more, it’s still an undiscovered territory in my opinion.  It’s definitely not being treated as that big phone anymore but different companies take it different ways.

I know it was with Windows for instance, there’s that hybrid tablet/desktop model that they’re trying to bring to the table that I’ve been somewhat critical of in the past.

Nicholas Tenhue: So we’re talking about the surface.

Chris Lahiri: Right. In my experience with that, I got that on my blog, if you go to the blog at Lahiristudios.com, I just talk about some of the bullet point out my experiences with the service rapport.

Nicholas Tenhue: Yeah. I mean for me it’s quite interesting though because we make all of these comparison to smart phones and to laptops and it seems like a lot of companies are trying to position them somewhere along that spectrum and it seems like we’re moving again more towards the laptop side of the spectrum now with the ipad pro and things like this.

Then we also have the mini which is also more like phablets in a sense.

Chris Lahiri: It’s a really confused space. I have been waiting for instance for certain apps to be universal apps so I can use them on the tablet. There’s a question from efficiency in a financial standpoint, “what should we do? Should we explore the tablet space?”

Well, if you’re somebody like me who’s working on wireframes from multiple responsive executions or apps that are universal apps, it’s like you’re basically adding a hundred of hours of work if you’re going to incorporate the tablet properly into this user experience. So do you want to do that or not, right?

What I found is that, at least in my experience with MD Anderson in the stem cell stuff, I was working with the young adult stem cell patient group and if you know anything stem cell treatment, these kids have been through hell in a hand basket, they’re very weak and they’re recovering, it just knocks the crap out of you when you go through stem cell treatment.

Even sitting at a desktop computer, is a lot of calories, it’s a lot of effort to get yourself up and sit down and what I found is that, it opened my eyes to the idea of low energy computing.  The beauty of what we were working on was that it was responsive that you could go to the social media side or whatever.

We were working on what was called a micro-social network for stem cell recovery patients. So they were able to communicate with other patients who were kind of going through the same thing on this website we were designing. Those are starting to get really hot and basically these sorts of patient groups who have a very unique problem like limb syndrome or going through stem cell recovery are finding that Facebook is too generalized and not private enough and not secure enough for those sorts of experiences.

So when I was working on it, it was also paramount that accessibility from our standpoint was there for this. The tablet and the mobile space got really important because it’s a lot easier to touch per se than to guide the mouse around and sit upright at a table with a laptop open in front of you, you can even have it opened on your lap.

There’s really interesting things with this space that made me realize the future isn’t necessarily a minority report style with these smart class things and holograph, you know holographic kind of interfaces that imply hysteriatic arm movements and lots of motion and lots of calories being spent.

The future may be instead like this low energy interaction mediums like tablets, like smart phones. It was interesting really, devices that basically have some form factor you can take to bed with you or devices that require less or maybe eventually no physical exertion or interactives.

I think there’s a book out there that talks about the world without screens, I forgot what the name of the book was, it’s kind of a tirade. I think it’s a small book talking about “Hey, we believe that the future ahead of us is slapping screen on something and he gives some ridiculous examples, screens being slapped on this and screens being slapped on that.

He talks about a future without screens and I think that’s particularly the obvious thing to think about when you’re dealing with these low energy end users like stem cell recovery patients.

Nicholas Tenhue: Yeah, let them know that you’re low on interactions.

Chris Lahiri: Yeah. There’s other things, I worked in the enterprise space and enterprise augmented reality is coming at a big way and I think it’s going to be instrumental and I’m talking about beyond Pokemon Go.

This is, that’s cute and yes I can see the outside world through my phone which is wonderful. I just see it as a plausible next evolution to the tablet, to bring in AR in a big way into the enterprise world and possibly having additional environmental sensors on tablets, increasing the depth of range of those sensors for enterprise consumption, I don’t know.

Nicholas Tenhue: Right. Especially because you have such a big piece of hardware when you compare it to your phone, you’re going to be able to fit in more sensors in there. Like for example, I worked on a project in Japan called Safecast where people wear a cook with these radiation monitors, just put them in their bags and walked around and then they would be uploaded to wifi networks, to these open source maps basically. So the hardware was open source and the software was open source, and the maps were open source and then you can kind of see this empowering people around the world if you have a number of different sensors and these kinds of products gathering data and kind of throwing it up into the world.

Chris Lahiri: Yeah. That form factor really gives you the ability to add more and I don’t think the battery life is necessarily a wonder one, I think huge straws have been made with battery life, we talked about how the user experience ends when the battery life ends, it’s critical.

So you have a pretty large battery in a tablet that I think gives you that opportunity to have something that lasts for a much longer time, that experience can last longer because you’ve got that length of time, they’re pushing further and further in that space as well. 

I think the form factor, that 1024x768 tablet which I know there’s a lot, Samsung is coming to the table with 1609 and 1610 aspect ratios, but I find it quite interesting in another way as well. I think it’s kind of cool when it comes to sketching and it’s a matter of preference but I’m curious to see what aspect ratio is preferred by artists. Is it really the widescreen or do they really like that 1024x768?

Nicholas Tenhue: Right. We just had a great guest on the show who talked about sketching. That’s fascinating as well because I remember well back in the day when I used to do a lot more illustration than kind of software and UI work, it was all about these Wacom tablets that you would kind of not even have a screen on then you would just project that on to your actual screen by USB, now they’re moving towards this pretty much what every graphic artist has which is a tablet with a screen on itand I’m pretty sure that a lot of artist now work on purely like iPads just because the tools and like there’s Photoshop on an iPad now you don’t even need a specialist piece of equipment to make sort of these professional grade illustrations.

Chris Lahiri: It’s so important to be able to discuss it like that because again, it’s the most accessible way to quickly get a concept to cross. I don’t have to sit on a computer and create wireframes per se. We just had, in my company, we had a little conversation about the value of doing things in a low tech way, before even getting into something like Axure and just doing a little bit of that in the course.

I’d like to see how the tablet plays into that. I know the Apple Pencil is just heralded as the greatest thing on earth. Other people would say it’s got it’s fallbacks with the way it is with artists and all that but I played with it and boy it is very responsive. It’s very nice.

Nicholas Tenhue: Do you think it kind of competes with these Wacom tablets and pens that have kind of been doing the same thing for a really long time? Are they up to that level?

Chris Lahiri: I think so, yeah. I would say so at this point, it’s come a very long way. I was always curious about sketching on tablet ever since the IPad had come to the market and I have tried other products like the Jot Note or the Jot Sketch, the Jot TouchPro or I think that’s what it’s called because the Jot TouchPro was the last one that I had where it had a little, it had a very fine point but it was on this kind of plastic disk that you had to drag across the screen.

It wasn’t quite there yet but I think with the apple pencil, I think they finally got it there some of the example that you see are these remarkable, I think for quick concepting, I think it can provide tremendous value.

I do still use a Wacom tablet at work and I have a dual monitor system at work. So I’ve got my laptop and then I’ve got a large apple monitor, a 27-inch monitor and then I’ve got my Wacom and my keyboard. It’s a set-up that works for me, but I think, I’d encourage some of the other designers that work with me to try the tablet space for quick sketches and concepting. I think it would be a good place.

Now, you’re saving it as JPEG and you can send it anywhere you want.

Nicholas Tenhue: Then work on it further, right.

Chris Lahiri: Then work on it from there, I think it’s a pretty competitive space now and I think Wacom’s Cintiq was the closest we’ve got in the past where it had a screen but now I don’t know what they’re going to do because of Apple or the IPad. Even the surface.

Nicholas Tenhue: Kind of moving into the same space. 

Chris Lahiri: Yeah, they’re kind of into that space now. So they’ve got some…

Nicholas Tenhue: Some hot competition!    

Chris Lahiri: And the versatility, you can do more than just draw on the tablet. There’s plenty of other things, I check my finances on there, there’s all sorts of, there’s gaming that people do on it. There’s so many other applications that the value is tremendous with the tablet for somebody who has a Cintiq just for the sake of having a screen that they can draw on. That’s kind of, the value is there. So we’ll see how that kind of heats up.

I think it still seems to be an undiscovered country with the tablet and there are still a lot of other people who are approaching it as ancillary. I’m not sure, I think it could be explore further and I think they could be of more value brought to that space.

Nicholas Tenhue: Definitely.  So like you said, the context of use is super important like your example of sick people in a hospital and they’re sort of low energy output or like on the move sketching and then moving to sort of a static desktop environment where you need to add your own or find details, let’s say you’re an illustrator or something.

You did touch really quickly there, the app ecosystems and how you can do multiple things on the tablet whereas a dedicated device like the graphics tablet, you aren’t able to do that.

So where are with that right now? Because not all apps are supported in tablets and it doesn’t seems to be a hugely sort of hustling and bustling place like it is with the smart phone kind of App Store.

Chris Lahiri: It’s interesting, it’s funny because right now, it was just last year that I had been to this Nielsen Norman Group seminar where they’re talking about if you, there’s this question about “Should I, a tablet based version of my website” and I think the answer came down to “It could suffice to have a desktop website that works in that 1024x768 aspect ratio without having it to do something completely dedicated to the tablet.  And there’s also a question of the speed of the app ecosystem and how it’s the mobile web is catching up with that.

You’ve heard of AMP, Accelerated Mobile Pages, which is this new Google initiative to get mobile pages moving as quickly and loading just as fast as anything than before. If you go to ampproject.org, this is something that I’m looking into as one of my clients right now incorporating this but they’re trying to get the mobile web to work just as quickly and efficiently as the apps.

So of course you got that 30% cost of having something in the Apple App Store. The apps takes its cut out of whereas the mobile web doesn’t have, you don’t have to worry about that. So there’s a lot more focus being put. That doesn’t negate the use of the tablet by any means.

It’s just the app ecosystems seems to be under a lot of pressure right now from the mobile web and I don’t know if apple will change. I’ve heard rumors that they’re going to reduce the cost to be in the App Store for certain vendors. There were rumors that the upcoming Amazon video app might be eventually something on the Apple TV because they’re going to reduce that cost for them.

There’s a prohibit cost for being in the App Store for some people and there’s this thread on the mobile web, it’s an interesting space as far as the ecosystems can build, there’s a huge advantage I think to the mobile web and there are certain things obviously that you can’t do on the mobile web; location based stuff and that’s even changing, but being able to update a piece of software that’s a web app when we do a lot of web apps at Silicus.

To be able to change something on the back and have it instantly accessible to our end users without having to download anything is huge. So in terms of the accessibility and the app ecosystems, if that’s server-side and not client-side, there’s more control in the developer side to thinking about things in terms of the mobile web.

Where will things go in terms of the app ecosystem? I think right now we’re facing a huge change. People have looked at the mobile web in a negative light for the last few years I think. It’s clunkier, you don’t have things like camera accessibility and GPS, that’s changing now.

So I’m kind of curious to myself but I feel like mobile web is going to take tremendous precedence in the future well above the app world. Creating and maintaining ecosystems especially.

Nicholas Tenhue: Yeah. I think there’s two really interesting points there is I guess first is the fact that mobile web is as you say going to be far more of a native experience and have all of the fully fledged features that are accessible natively but then I suppose the other part of it is kind of “What are you trying to do on your phone?”

Let’s say you’re trying to play a hardcore 3D game on your tablet, it might not work as well if you don’t have the app. I mean you could have the game engine installed on your phone and then the mobile web could take advantage of that by rendering that in the browser but I mean, we’re not quite in that kind of interaction yet.

Chris Lahiri: Yeah, the examples that you’ve seen in the last, I would say five, ten years of trying to do 3D in the browser have been interesting but never really compelling enough to explode into something.

Nicholas Tenhue: Yeah, I think Unity has been doing some really interesting stuff and I guess they’re the ones that will probably closest and the ones most readily kind of poised to make that breakthrough but I guess we need to see some more technology progression in terms of what the Apple kind of eco system allows in the first place to open it up to developers.

Chris Lahiri: I think gaming is a huge one where the app world will continue to dominate to be able to use a native processor efficiently without having to worry about the clunkiness of the browser shell is huge.

I don’t know the last time I played a game in a browser. For a short time, Facebook was just exploding with games like Mafia Wars and that sort of stuff and that kind of disappeared.

Nicholas Tenhue: I got really tired of all of my Farmville invites that for sure. Candy Crush, oh no, not again.

Chris Lahiri: Yes, that’s right. So I think that space kind of dissipated. I tell you what, for enterprise, mobile web is very exciting and very attractive for those kinds of reasons, not having to download the entire app onto your device, saving those precious gigabytes of space.

 Apps surprisingly filled up my phone, I’ve got a 64gb iPhone and I don’t know how I filled that up but I managed to do so with apps, some of which are games and so just having all that on server side rather than client-side is very appealing to mobile developers and people in this space.

In the gaming world, again it’s an undiscovered country. The tablet, the idea of RPS on tablet is very cool, you know, to be able to move around my little soldiers with my finger. I think it’s a lot of fun, it’s one of the larger, 2K I think, that was Excom, 20$ I think for something in the App Store but it was actually quote a success.

I think a lot of developers are seeing the tablet space in an exciting way and they’re like, “how can we explore this space more?” So it’s definitely a great space for the gaming world. I think a lot of gaming next to surfing for e-commerce and doing purchasing on things like the Amazon app and the eBay app, it’s gaming that takes precedence on tablets.

Nicholas Tenhue: Yes, certainly.

Chris Lahiri: I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. That’s a huge space. I do a little bit of the tablet gaming as well.

Nicholas Tenhue: That kind of brings me to my next point with the whole touch versus keyboard and the mouse, the whole ergonomics of the tablet. What are your thoughts on that? Because I have this really nice example of what I guess you could consider as a hardcore gaming company who does gaming hardware Razor? I don’t know if you know them but they just released a mechanical keyboard for the IPad Pro which I think is the first mechanical keyboard for a tablet.

So there’s a lot of complex interactions for the keyboard for gaming and for kind of any input but then we also have the multi-touch gesture that you wouldn’t really be able to do on a smart phone because that’s just not the screen space and you have ten digits that you can kind of play around with there.

So what is the interplay that you think between this hardware input and this kind of more natural touchy-feely kind of approach?

Chris Lahiri: Yeah, it’s interesting. I have some frustrations with trying to turn tablets into laptops for lack of a better analogy. I think a pure tablet experience without additional instruments is still to be fully explored.

I think it’s a little bit of a cop out when we still try to tap on things that remind us of past user experience paradigm. We got that tops and I tell you what, there’s no better feeling than me than the laptop MacBook Pro and that experience has been refined tremendously.

There’s a lot of reasons why, you know people criticize Apple “why aren’t you bringing touch screens to the MacBook pro?” or for instance, “why can’t isn’t this yet a hybrid experience? Why can’t I pull the screen off and treat it like a tablet?” “why are you separating the tablet and the laptop experiences?”

Well I’ll tell you what, I had the chance to see exactly why recently and I got a Surface Pro 4 and I did not realize how much of a chaotic world is opened up when you open up a traditional desktop space into a fat finger tablet environment.

What happens is, if your app ecosystem isn’t there which for the Surface and the Microsoft space is not really there, I found myself defaulting for instance into using the Amazon website instead of the Amazon app in the surface pro. I found myself to using the eBay website instead of the eBay app because I wasn’t happy with those user experiences and inevitably I had to finally go into the desktop apps because I wasn’t getting everything I wanted from the App Store, the Microsoft App Store.

So I was getting into the desktop apps to be able to accomplish some of the things I wanted to accomplish and of course user experience hasn’t been refined for those desktop appsso what can I really do with my finger in that space? Okay, so now we have a justification to use a keyboard bring the mouse back in but it’s kind of s regression.

Nicholas Tenhue: Yeah, it’s kind of going backwards.

Chris Lahiri: It’s because I can’t do what I want because the user experience is gore and so now I have to go back to using a keyboard and a mouse because innovation hasn’t happened because that to me is regressive.

So I think that it’s a better direction to go in is to really treat the tablet experience as a unique experience, explore the value of that and none of this is a hardware problem, it’s just that the software, the user experience that’s preventing me from really enjoy the pure tablet on the surface pro whereas on an android tablet or the iPad, it’s just built that way b y convention by the fact that it came from the mobile environment from the first place.

There are detractors to that too, like I said, a lot of the early apps were just big phone apps. But we can consider without defaulting back to keyboard and mouse what a pure tablet experience could be, I think it really would be great.

Again, it’s higher energy to have to bring it all these other items. I don’t think the future is all this histrionics involved and computing. I think the future is bringing that down to a bare minimum, an elegant way of touch interaction. I’m prone to be against, I’m not a big fan of tacking on a keyboard, tacking on a mouse on to a tablet like myself. A pen perhaps but beyond that I would really rather see that the tablet user experience is explored instead, a little bit more.

Nicholas Tenhue: Right, right. I think that a lot of interesting stuff could happen in a kind of multi-model areas that kind of using voice along with touch because I mean a lot of keyboard input is very sort of learned I guess over the years of usage. I can type personally a lot faster in the keyboard than I can on a tablet screen so I think complementing it with other forms of input is going to be something that we’ll see more for specific use cases and specific context of use.

Chris Lahiri: I would that say that voice might be a more preferred way of going about that. Again, voice does take a lot of calories but I find myself defaulting to voice input when touch becomes somewhat of a drag to have to deal with. The sophistication of voice transcription is going to play a big part into the sink or swim kind of nature in to the success of just a pure tablet experience or not as well.

Nicholas Tenhue: Right, and the social aspects of whether you want to be talking to your tablet in public.

Chris Lahiri: Right. Sure. Those are some things as well that could be somewhat awkward. We’ve gotten used to typing on our phones, but for some reason I think people are really wanting to tap that keyboard on another tablet it’s interesting.

Nicholas Tenhue: Fascinating. So I guess just before we finish up, I’d like to touch a few more points. One of those is kind of extending the capabilities of a tablet beyond personal use. So things like, using tablets for augmented reality in public spaces or using tablets in airports or in zoos or these other public places that is not necessarily your tablet but it could be used to sort of augment an experience or improve a user experience at a hotel or at any kind of space. What are your thoughts on that? 

Chris Lahiri: Right. Absolutely, well I think it’s a fascinating place. I have been an old hand in creating applications for things like kiosks and stuff like that back when I worked with PCG Campbell and working with Volvo, we were working on a flash based on at the time and it basically locked your screen for just touching through an experience but the idea of say, an OS that you’re familiar with and everybody on for instance, say iOS or Android or whatever and it’s the conventions of that OS being universal and so when I go to a museum or a public area and it has the same conventions I’m used to, that’s really enticing, that’s really interesting.

I think there’s a lot of standard UX patterns that people are used to and if we start thinking about the way we design those patterns in mind, I think being able to pick up a tablet, any tablet and the OS may not be as important as how we design the software and the patterns we used to design it. If we could get some conventionality there, I think it’s going to be a very welcome kind of thing, to know what you can get out of something.

I think the problem has been generally, the learning curve of having to walk up to a screen and go up there and use it. So if it can be more useable, and you see this at auto-shows all the time, they have a really nice, well-designed thing. Frog design might come along and done something for Audi or whoever, I don’t know but, and it looks great but the experience of it may be somewhat unconventional. “When I click this, where do I get the details of the car? Where can I get pictures, where can I get more information?”

If we can apply a standardize UX pattern to these experiences, I think it’s that much more accessible universally and that’s where I think that it will be more universally adopted. When I go to a bank, when I go to the auto-show, when I rent out a car, when I go to do this and there’s this standard patterns in place that help me get from point A to pint B.

I know it’s not a very creative solution but boy, people love being able to do things that they know will work and not having to re-learn a new interface every time.

Nicholas Tenhue: I’ve had the same experience personally at so many malls and they have these flashy new, kind of map applications installed in these big touch screens but it is all proprietary and its all kind of outsourced to some development company and I have no idea how to use it. I don’t know how to get to the first floor because it doesn’t make sense in terms of like how I would navigate a website or how I would navigate through an app.

Chris Lahiri: Yeah, that in general will be a huge pre-cursor to the public tablet which I think is a really cool idea. Just, “oh there it is”, “I know what I can expect from it” and “I know how to navigate it pretty easily”, “this is common knowledge for me.”

At that point, we’re going to see a huge boost in the user experience paradigm. That’s not to say that we should extract all creativity from that thing and have everything be just the standard use case layout. It’s a balance, it’s a balance there. I think that creative agencies like Frog here in Austin have really pushed the envelope with doing cool stuff in the touch space and several others as well are doing a lot of interesting things in the touch space.

I think there could be people who are critics for this conventionality but I’ve always been one to introduce things if they are new and if they are groundbreaking in small increments. Anytime Facebook for instance changes convention then you get a ton of people complaining about it and then finally they adopt it and then “oh god, I couldn’t have lived without it.”

Yeah, it’s that curve. Other times it really is a bad choice, but we are incrementally doing these sorts of things and bringing these sorts of user experience patterns to the table. Sometimes we tweak those pattern libraries to make them more sophisticated. Something new comes down, the wearable revolution is upon us, the watch experience is here to have us interact.

The other day I walked by a Verizon store and my Apple watch went off unnecessarily. We’re introducing these in small ways sometimes it gets a little intrusive. Sometimes they turn us off in a bad way to the point that we may have lost an opportunity.

So I think the responsible way to do it is to employ good UX patterns that are well-researched that makes sense to end users that it don’t present a ridiculous learning curve or a disharmonious user experience. And to advocate this for the end users to make sure that were not contorting ourselves to technology and that technology continues to work for us. That’s important as well.

Nicholas Tenhue: Yeah, definitely using these conventional patterns and also if we’re talking about the public space for example. User research is so much easier because if you’re in that public space, you’re constantly bombarded with people that would be interacting with your system. It’s a great opportunity and the data comes at a very low cost if it’s in a public space.

I’m surprised that there’s not more focus on that and we’re not seeing more technology out in the wild. But I am sure there are reasons and I am sure we’ll see more in the future.

Chris Lahiri: Yeah, we’ve got a great example of being led by the technology in probably a negative way with the whole Pokémon Go thing. Just recently, this rare Pokémon was spotted in Central Park and they were running after it or something like that.

I think stuff like that is interesting because again, we’re following technology and we can be tremendously intrusive with it and we could definitely get into some dark patterns with UX and how we can get people to kind of follow the lead in public places just like Pokémon Go. There’s the defectiveness there.

Nicholas Tenhue: Right, there have been a couple of people complaining of being on a Pokespot kind of kids hanging around in their lawn and making noise because they’re constantly  trying (to catch). It kind of brings the whole safety into the digital world.

Chris Lahiri: So it is with tablets, with ARs and with any device that is going to be a big factor. Augmented Reality is going to be a huge factor in the use of tablets, in the adoption of other types of technology moving forward and in the use of dark patterns and abdicating to the end user and doing what is responsible in how we design UX for public places and use in public places. So that’s an interesting one as well.

Nicholas Tenhue: I think we have covered a whole lot on tablets today and I’ve certainly have a lot to think about in terms of what is a good use of a tablet, where is technology going in the future. Some really good examples, some specific context of a good use for tablets as well, where they are good and when are they good and some of the things that we can do with tablets like tacking on extra pieces and whether that’s where we are going in the future.

Chris Lahiri: The sensors, yes.

Nicholas Tenhue: I’m not sure, it’s certainly a very interesting space but are there any last words you’d like to say about the tablet phenomenon?  

Chris Lahiri: It’s just an undiscovered country still but I would like to see a pure tablet exploration, a tablet experience without trying to regress back to keyboards and mice. I would really like to see the use of the touch space and as low energy as we can get with how we interact because I think that then is again working or abdicating it with the end user close to our contorting and changing for the sake of working and for the sake of using that given piece of technology.

So I would definitely like to see a lot more of that than that kind of regression into conventional user technologies and user input technologies that we’ve seen up to this point.

Nicholas Tenhue: Definitely, so if any of the listeners out there have any good examples of that, feel free to tweet @theuxblog and we’ll highlight those examples and maybe put together a blog post of good use of the tablet technology.

Chris Lahiri: Definitely, an unsung tablet space. Unsung perhaps hero for some of us in the low energy computing space.

Nicholas Tenhue: Alright, just before we sign off now, I’d just like to quickly ask you the question that I ask every guest on the show and that is, what is your definition of UX?

Chris Lahiri: Yeah, my definition of UX purposefully is pretty broad and a lot of this is a reaction to some of the, some of them are ridiculous UX analogies that I’ve seen, because I’ve been in this space for over a decade, I’ve seen Venn diagrams of all sorts. I’ve seen a lot of interesting stuff, in fact there’s a Tumblr page out there that’s called shittyuiuxanalogies.tumblr.com that is absolutely hilarious that I recommend you check out.

To answer your question, my very simple definition of UX is the art of balancing form and function. If I were to draw my Venn diagram, UX will be right in the middle of form and function as simple as you can make it. That to me kind of sums it up what we’re completely trying to do, in whatever application we’re trying to do it in, it’s trying to take practical things that we’re trying to accomplish on a database, some of which have been done using computers before, some of which have, but ultimately trying to make it such that those are accomplished better and in a more elegant way within the technology we bring to the table and to me that’s also kind of the definition of digital transformation.

It’s not overcomplicating, quite the opposite, it’s reducing. So it’s really contradictory to me when I see these Venn diagrams and all these other charts and stuff defining what UX is. To me, it’s just that simple, it’s balancing form and function.

Nicholas Tenhue: Yeah, I like that. Concise, the form and the function.  

Chris Lahiri: Yeah.

Nicholas Tenhue: Thank you so much for being a guest on the show. I’ve learned so much and I really look forward to seeing tablets in the future.

Chris Lahiri: Absolutely, thank you for having me it’s been a blast.

Nicholas Tenhue: Thanks a lot Chris, take care.

Please, remember to share so others can enjoy this podcast.