One thing that has me really excited about new products is the growing trend of Conversational Design.

I recently wrote about the breaking down of siloed experiences created by apps so that contextually related tasks can be combined into a single experience (e.g. ordering an Uber from Facebook Messenger). This is partly a result of the user interface transforming into a dialog between user and application. Text being the great equalizer, if a conversation can happen, all things are understood and possible.

This trend will likely be hastened by the advent of two other technologies that are quickly gaining traction: Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality.

AI as it relates to conversational design is obvious. AI involves a self-aware machine that can learn from interaction. Conversational Design doesn’t require AI – when I “chat” with Slackbot to complete my user profile, it’s not learning; rather the interface is cleverly constructed to appear to be a conversation. No doubt though, as AI is improved and integrated in everyday products, the net effect will be an increasing use of conversational design in all things.

Virtual Reality, I believe, will also help spur on conversational design. Traditional user interfaces will seem to be clunky virtual reality. They would also threaten to break the illusion VR is creating (I’m in this amazing, majestic landscape; let me pull out a keyboard to navigate elsewhere). Dialog seems to be a more fitting UI in VR. Hence, conversational design.

And this brings me back to the app experience today and why it needs to be replaced. I suspect that a user will not want to have conversations with numerous different applications, each with different responses and cues to natural language conversation. Users don’t want to “train” 20 different bots to understand them. They want a single voice. They want a personal concierge. 

Apple has Siri and Amazon recently launched Alexa. Each will get better with iteration (I mean, Siri can’t get worse, can it?). But I think there’s a risk in these platforms being built by existing businesses. What if I don’t want to own an Apple product? What if I want to shop somewhere other than Amazon? I believe there’s an opportunity for a new company to build a conversational product that is agnostic to brand and business. Something that handles one's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds, while allowing users to request services, such as an Urber or food ordering, and allows shopping across all online retail. This digital concierge will work everywhere.

That seems like something people would be interested in.

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