Natural User Interface: How to Get an Investor
"The number one thing people complain about is cost, but the number one thing people pay for is convenience."
And what's the next evolution in delivering convenience? Natural User Interface (NUI). Because the quickest way to speed up a learning curve is well, not to have one. Rather than train someone on what to do, instead you let them know the new options available with what they intuitively do already.
Makes sense. What does that look like?
Take a look at these examples:
- Iphone - the original smart phone that changed how consumers interacted with their mobile with touch screen controls
- Google Glass - glasses providing a heads-up display, voice commands and audio to control your phone remotely through Bluetooth connectivity
- Plastc - a digital card that stores up to twenty cards (including debit / credit cards) accessible with a graphic user interface (GUI) on the card controlled by swiping (horizontal hand gesture)
- the Grid - a website that designs itself through automated and intuitive aesthetics adaptive from uploaded user content
These all take a step towards intuitively interacting with technology.
My personal favorite, comes from a Ted Talk demonstration from Jeff Han back in 2006 which literally illustrates NUI applied:
As a company in the middle of creating technology with this level of potential, people can get justifiably excited. That excitement sometimes blinds us from the prerequisites for investment due to the shift of requirements successful NUI dictates.
Unlike using GUI as an interface where the creation of technology symbolizes the prototype or minimum viable product (MVP), NUI technology acts as the first step towards a prototype. This step begins with translating natural movements to digital format including:
- Blinking an eye
- Applying pressure
- Movement from limbs.
But people don't buy translation, they buy the book that's translated or in NUI's case, the resulted experience from applied translation of natural movements.
Here lies the key as the technology alone is not enough to create that MVP - physical proof that what you say you've built, works.
With NUI though, it may take investment to bridge the gap from technology to MVP. On the surface, this would appear to be a catch 22. It's not.
Then what does that possibility look like?
Once a company has the intellectual property to translate natural movement there remains an expectation of what the first pursued application will be. Market research can justify the viability in pursing the application - standard practice in business planning. The difference lies in defining the hardware specifications according to the user experience.
Story: Working with a potential client, they had patent pending IP for technology capable of translating eye gestures. Specifically, eye tracking and eye blinking.
Sounds cool. Why should I care though?
Well, If you can translate eye movement, that could be used to communicate real-time point of view (POV). In other words, I wear something with a camera on it where the camera moves and focuses just like my eyes do. If I were at a concert, you could see what I saw when I saw it. Blinking could act as a trigger command to define how to capture that image data such as still pictures or stream video.
Here comes the excitement, and for some, the blindness.
While impressive, the IP itself is not a slam dunk. In this case, defining the hardware requirements necessary to communicate real-time POV become the next step.
Frame rate, camera size, potential form factors, and communicating the image data remain key ingredients to this soup of success. While a working prototype is not necessary, understanding if the technology requirements exist today to deliver it enables us to estimate a completion date for a minimum viable product and more importantly, return on investment.
And that's the takeaway to getting an investor when it comes to natural user interface. Answer the question: "When do I expect a return on my investment?"
This costs x dollars to invest with minimum viable product available by y date and estimate return on investment within z years.
And that's how you supersede complaints of cost of investment by delivering convenience of realistic timelines to realize investment gains for NUI.