Nir’s Note: In this guest post Ryan Hoover takes a look at how interface changes drive innovation. Ryan blogs at and you can follow him on Twitter at rrhoover.

Interface changes can result in great opportunities for new startups and existing businessesWhat do motorized vehicles, broadband internet, and smartphones have in common? These technologies all introduced new forms of user interface, transforming its user’s daily lives and behaviors.

I’ve been studying Nir Eyal’s work and recently read his article on the power of interface changes. As stated in his post, interface changes have the potential to radically change user behavior, disrupt incumbents, and enable new opportunities only imagined in film and sci-fi novels.

If you’re building a new startup or operating an existing business, look out for interface changes. Interface changes have the power to catapult your startup to success or kill it on arrival.

So if interface changes are such a big deal, what opportunities or threats can we anticipate? Here are a few examples:

Wearable Computing – smart watches (e.g. Pebble, Apple’s rumored “iWatch”), Google Glass, Myo, and other wearable technologies will enable new interactions and become strong drivers of habit-formation as our ability to interact with technology increases.

Quantified Self – Nike Fuelband, Fitbit, Jawbone Up, and other biometric monitoring devices have seen traction with early adopters. I anticipate greater adoption as new use cases arise as this technology increases in fidelity and connectedness.

Connected Vehicles – Ford, a company founded more than a century ago, is innovating with its Sync technology. Their internet connected platform brings apps to the driving experience. Skitcher and Pandora have already integrated to take advantage of this new interface.

Fast, Ubiquitous, Uncapped Internet – this has already started taking shape with LTE, enabling higher-fidelity media to be consumed and shared on the go (e.g. Vine, HBO Go). Faster speeds and unmetered bandwidth may also (finally) make cloud gaming a reality through PS4’s Cloud Gaming service, OnLive, or other competing technologies.

Microtransactions – microtransactions and free-to-play model have revolutionized the gaming industry, disrupting traditional game studios. Frictionless payments will continue to spread into other verticals and platforms such as console gaming (e.g. Xbox, PS4, WiiU), TV’s (e.g. Google TV, Apple TV, Samsung), labor services (e.g. Taskrabbit, Exec), and others.

Ambient Apps – Highlight, Circle, and Google Now monitor user behavior and context, surfacing relevant information at just the right time. To a large extent, the interface becomes invisible as these services push to the user rather than pull information from the user as with traditional interfaces.

And… – self-driving cars, affordable virtual reality (Oculus Rift), alternative currencies (BitCoins), lucid dreaming (Remee), burger making robots (Momentum Machines), and many more interfaces changes are in our future.

Not all these interfaces will succeed and even those that do will often be dismissed as a toy in the beginning.

What new interfaces do you see shaping the future?

NOTE: This guest post was written by Ryan Hoover


Get my latest blog posts by subscribing now!

Share this essay:

  • Ryan – thanks for the reminder that not only is software “eating the world”, but also that interface changes are changing the way we view the world. One of the most important things to consider in the junction of interface change and behavior change is: “how easy will it be for a person to make that change?” In some cases, quite easy (iPhone); in others, regulatory or social changes may present lots of friction (e.g. Bitcoin.) If you haven’t already, you should check out the work of @bjfogg on the subject of behavior modeling. (And thanks Nir for sharing the guest post)

  • nipulpatel

    Another category of interface change I think we’ll see is connected homes. When smart TVs, appliances, and thermometers are all interconnect and working together, we’re going to see a lot of really cool applications. I’m excited for this.

    • Great example! We’ve been talking about the “internet of things” for years now but it’s finally becoming a reality.

  • Nathan Schor

    One interface that is promising is a subset of the quantified self – buyer’s
    purchasing intent which I define as the quartet [what, which (brands),
    when, and where] they aspire to acquire. So imagine those four items on a
    screen and when filled out that valuable information is ‘intentcast’ out to
    sellers who will eagerly bid to respond to this most coveted of consumer groups
    — those with discretionary income, self-declared to be in-market.

  • kiran bhanushali

    Hi, very interesting post. Although my expectation from the post was more along the lines of how we interact with devices – punch cards to keyboard and mouse to stylus to capacitive touch screens to speaking to the device to coming soon eye gestures. And each of these interaction methods has led to a new powerful competitor emerging in technology.