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What Does the Future Hold for Product Designers?

What Does the Future Hold for Product Designers?

time-clock5 min read
calendar4 June 2024

Several factors will influence the product design industry’s future in the years to come, including the integration of AI and Machine Learning, adapting designs for multimodal interfaces such as Voice User Interfaces (VUI) and gesture-based interfaces, and integrating Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

LinkedIn reports that this industry will see an expected annual growth rate of 22.25% CAGR, in the next 7 years. With this optimistic projected growth, it is essential that designers are aware of what these developments entail.

Key insights:

Several experts attended our Product & Design: A HealthTech Perspective networking event, offering their insights into the future of the Product industry. The overall takeaway from this event was the emphasis on relying on the mass availability of data available to designers currently and the integration of AI. Follow our TikTok account to see these exclusive event interviews.

An interesting quote from our conversation with Kathryn Ganz, VP of Product at Holland & Barrett, was:

“With the level of data and sort of the level of maturity that health tech is now gaining, you see two different sorts of business models emerging. So the first is a type of business that goes really niche and deep on a specific health issue. The other model we now see emerging, I think, because of the opportunity size is these broader businesses that are trying to sort of become your wellness companion or manage the full ambit of someone's health.”

Integration of AI and Machine Learning:

While Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can't replace human designers, they are revolutionising how users interact with digital platforms and, in turn, assisting Product Designers in their roles. Improvements will be seen in the upcoming years as AI algorithms continue to analyse user preferences and behaviours to help create a more personalised experience.

Additionally, user interaction will become more intuitive and efficient through predictive design, offering proactive suggestions based on previous data on users' actions. Moreover, AI will impact Product design in the automation of repetitive tasks, giving designers more time to focus on their creative efforts. Finally, by leveraging Artificial Intelligence in usability testing, designers will have access to data and insights into user behaviour that traditional testing methods may not be able to offer.

How AI in Product Design will impact different industries:

  • Healthcare Industry:
    • Medical Device Design: AI aids in designing medical devices such as prosthetics, implants, and other equipment, ensuring optimal performance and patient safety.
    • Drug Discovery: AI accelerates the drug discovery process by analysing large amounts of biological data to identify potential drug candidates and predict their efficacy.
    • Early diagnosis: Computer vision technology and AI are integrated into the design of wearable devices for continuous monitoring of vital signs and can help detect irregularities and diseases for early diagnosis, further enhancing patients’ ability to treat conditions before they become life-threatening.
  • Architecture and Construction:
    • Generative Design: AI generates and analyses several design options based on specified parameters, helping architects and engineers explore all the possible solutions available to them.
    • Energy Efficiency: AI algorithms optimise building designs for energy efficiency, considering factors like orientation, insulation, and natural lighting. Society has placed an emphasis on energy conservation, and this can aid in its promotion.
    • Construction Automation: AI-enabled robots and drones help with many construction tasks, including site surveying, material transportation, and bricklaying, improving efficiency and safety.
  • E-commerce:
    • Recommendation Systems: AI analyses user behaviour, preferences, and past purchases to give customers personalised product recommendations, ensuring the best possible user experience and driving sales.
    • Inventory Management: AI enhances inventory management by predicting demand, identifying slow-moving items, and automating restocking processes, ensuring fewer instances of understocking or overstocking.

Designing for Multimodal Interfaces:

Users are increasingly interacting with devices through multiple modalities such as voice (Voice User Interfaces - VUI) and gesture. In 2023, there were a reported number of 125.2 million voice search users. Product designers will need to adapt their design principles to accommodate these diverse interaction modes, ensuring consistency and usability across different platforms. Examples of designing for multimodal interfaces include creating conversational interfaces with a strong understanding of context cues and delivering concise voice prompts for VUI and interfaces that respond naturally to the user's touch.

How multimodal interfaces in Product Design will impact different industries:

  • Healthcare:
    • VUI: Voice-controlled interfaces assist healthcare professionals in accessing patient records, scheduling appointments, or transcribing notes, improving efficiency and allowing for hands-free operations, promoting clean environments.
    • Gesture Interfaces: Gesture-based systems enable surgeons to navigate medical images or control surgical tools without physical contact, minimising the risk of contamination and streamlining procedures.
  • Education:
    • VUI: Voice-activated learning platforms provide students with interactive tutorials, quizzes, or language practice exercises, facilitating personalised learning experiences and accommodating diverse learning styles.
    • Gesture Interfaces: Gesture-controlled educational tools allow students to interact with digital content, simulate experiments, or participate in virtual classrooms through intuitive gestures, encouraging active engagement and teamwork.
  • E-commerce Industry:
    • VUI: Voice shopping assistants let users search, buy, and receive personalised recommendations through voice commands. They streamline tasks like tracking orders and managing returns, creating greater convenience and customer satisfaction.
    • Gesture Interfaces: Gesture recognition tech enables interactive browsing, zooming on product images, and virtual try-on experiences.

Integration of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR):

The AR & VR market is projected to generate revenue of US$38.6bn in 2024. Product designers will need to harness AR and VR's immersive capabilities to create compelling experiences across various domains, from gaming and entertainment to education and enterprise. Designing for AR and VR requires a deep understanding of spatial interactions, user perception, narrative storytelling, and the technical constraints and opportunities inherent in these emerging mediums.

How AR and VR in Product Design will impact different industries:

  • Entertainment:
    • Immersive Experiences: AR and VR create fully immersive environments for gaming, movies, and interactive storytelling. Designers must ensure they are creating as life-like as possible environments.
    • Live Events: AR enables users to attend live events virtually, such as concerts, sports events, or conferences. VR can provide a front-row seat experience, complete with 360-degree views and interactive elements.
    • Interactive Merchandising: In the entertainment industry, AR is used for interactive merchandise experiences. Fans can use AR to see 3D models of their favourite characters or scan movie posters to unlock exclusive content.
  • Healthcare:
    • Training Simulations: Medical professionals can use VR simulations to practice surgical procedures or patient diagnosis in a risk-free environment. This helps in enhancing skills and reducing errors in real-life scenarios.
    • Therapeutic Applications: VR is utilised for pain management, phobia treatment, and rehabilitation therapies. Patients can be immersed in calming environments or guided through exposure therapy sessions, enhancing the effectiveness of treatments.
    • Patient Education: AR is employed to provide patients with interactive educational materials about their conditions or treatments. For instance, patients can use AR apps to visualise how medications work in their bodies or to understand complex medical procedures.
  • E-commerce:
    • Virtual Try-On: AR enables virtual try-on experiences for clothing, accessories, and cosmetics. Users can see how products look on themselves in real-time, enhancing their confidence in making purchase decisions.
    • Interactive Product Visualisation: VR is used to create virtual showrooms or product galleries where users can explore items in a realistic environment. This helps to provide a more engaging shopping experience, especially for products like furniture or home decor.
    • Augmented Shopping Assistants: AR-powered shopping assistants guide users through the shopping journey by providing product recommendations, reviews, and personalized suggestions based on their preferences and browsing history.


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written by
Grace Craigie-Williams

Grace Craigie-Williams

specialisms: Product,Design,UX
​Grace joined Xcede in our Perm Product team in 2023 as a Consultant with 3 years of experience working as a 360 recruiter within the Product & Design space.