Everything You Need to Know About Connected Devices


The future of connected devices is going to follow the same path as other innovations before it: expect it to get worse before it gets better. After that, wearables will be as ubiquitous as smart phones.

We dove into the subject at the Society of Digital Agency’s “Meaningful Connections” session in April and learned why you should jump on the connected devices bandwagon.

Creating the next big thing.

Right now, the market of connected devices is defined by experimentation. There are connected toothbrushes that tell you if you’re brushing your teeth correctly, a slew of watches and wristbands that monitor your heart rate and steps, and endless other digital objects that are connected either to your phone or to each other. Some of these are genuinely creative, but don’t fit in well enough to be widely used. It’s reminiscent of the early days of smartphones. Companies eventually found what worked, but not before unleashing abominations like the Nokia N-Gage, a cell phone that played video games and took calls (but wasn’t any good at either), to the public.

We’re in that awkward stage again. A lot of these devices are either telling us things we already know or things we don’t really need to know. We have smart watches that give us notifications on our wrist instead of our phone. The last thing anyone needs is more notifications.

The challenge is compounded by the fact that most software companies aren’t also hardware companies, and connected devices require hardware.

What can you expect right now?

For a time in which a cell phone has already replaced the tradition of carrying a watch, wearables (especially smart watches) should not be considered a new shiny gadget to discover. Smart watches are at their best extensions of a phone instead of a replacement, and that’s ok. We don’t want expensive but less powerful devices trying to compete with the smartphones of today.

In the same way that we used to look at our watches to tell time, wearables work as a handy notification windows. They’re primarily for all of those who don’t want their hands and eyes locked on their cell phone screens all the time. Weather, incoming emails, texts messages, music controls and even Facebook posts (believe me, you don’t want to do that) are easily accessed on the smartwatch screen.

Is it worth it? It is, if you are still eager to carry a watch in your wrist. If you don’t, then the rest is not going to sell the experience for you. It is nice to look at your Runtastic data while jogging or dialing a number without taking your phone out of your pocket in a busy commute; but it’s not of much use while you’re at the office or at home and that extra reach isn’t a problem. Smart watches need to keep paving their way to serve not as complex gimmicks but as fashion statements, that capture data and are connected in an useful way to the rest of our digital selves.

Finding Untapped Potential.

The future of connected devices is in providing value while seamlessly integrating into everyday life. We’re seeing bits of promise in certain devices right now, and as tech companies, we’ve got to pick out the pieces that work and modifying them until we get it right.

Here’s what we do know: we’ll no longer be developing just for phones. We’re going to have to make everything adapt to lots of different screens on lots of different devices. The design will need to be simple and intuitive enough to support watches, glasses, and more. Most importantly, any obstacles that get between the user and the information they want must be kept to a minimum.

Do you own any wearable tech? If not, why not? Let us know!



2014 Auto Show: Fueled Up on Future Digital Dreams


In 5 years just about every car model will be equipped with a screen that will seamlessly integrate with your smartphone. It will be the extension of your preferred mobile device, but this time in a new environment.

What does that new environment have to offer? It might bring up thoughts of things like “Siri, drive me home”… or telling your Google device “Ok Google, I’m hearing something weird when I press the accelerator… is something wrong?” We’re beyond excited about the possibilities. The technologies Apple, Google and Microsoft are unleashing this year are setting the stage for the next great tech battleground.

Flashback to the capabilities of cell phone devices 6 years ago, and think about how those capabilities have evolved since. That’s due to a war between tech companies and their hunger for a place in the smartphone market revolution. The car technology market is a similar opportunity. But the fight won’t be an easy one as the car manufacturers are quickly finding out.

Here’s the problem:

How do you make the experience better than just taking phone technology and strapping it to your car? How do you make it both easier and more valuable to use this technology in your car instead just using the smartphone you already have? That’s what companies are working on right now. You’re going to find a lot of stuff that isn’t all that useful, and it’s going to take some experimenting before car manufacturers get it right.

Microsoft has started to generate some buzz with the “Windows in The Car” project, a renamed version of their old “Windows Embedded Automotive” that dates back to 1998. “Apple CarPlay” will be available this year in some select car models beside a plug and play unit from Alpine, and Google created an open initiative called “Open Automotive Alliance.”

Right now is the perfect moment to integrate cars into the cloud, because we’re in an era of porting our entire lives to it. We are now interacting with people through digital spaces more than ever before, getting only the information we want to receive, and getting instant private data from centralized sources: calendars, pictures, contacts, and more. That’s what Microsoft, Apple, and Google see right now… “the moment.”

So, what can you expect from these new technologies in the next year?

Zemoga jumped at the chance to see all this new tech in person at the New York International Auto Show. We learned that almost every manufacturer has a plan for connected technology in their vehicles, and that there will be competitors other than Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

Apple’s CarPlay device understands most of the relevant data you have in your iPhone: It will get your contacts’ info, will suggest possible destinations, will get your music ready to listen to through your car controls, and will even allow you to get your iMessages right on the screen. However, you won’t ever have to look at the screen to use any of these features.

In a nutshell, CarPlay will extract relevant data from your iPhone without the need to even look at it. Instead, you will interact with Siri voice commands, your car panel touch screen, or even with the standard car knobs.

Lexus has an app suite called “Enform” available on all its 2014 models. It equips your car with Yelp, Facebook, Pandora, OpenTable, and the possibility for more third party apps in the future. You can control it either with your voice or with a modified mouse in the console. Controlling Enform is limited to voice commands while driving.

Where will the future of digital media take us?

So what does this new battlefield represent for us at Zemoga, and for the future of digital media? We foresee an era where the digital information is dictated by screens, not by devices. We continue thinking about providing solutions that can be seamlessly ported to a desktop experience, a tablet, a smartphone, a car, or even a fridge or home sensor bundle.

The technologies and the tools are the same: HTML5, Java SDK, Objective C, and we need to be prepared to handle an ecosystem where the people bring the information to the cloud, and that information is disseminated across each screen, enhanced by the environment where the screen live, and that’s what we call… a “Multi-Screen world”.

What connectivity features would your dream car have?


What No One Is Telling You About Responsive Web Design


“You put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle… Be water, my friend.” —Bruce Lee

Back in the 1970s, Master Lee already laid down the basics of what the industry has dubbed responsive design. True interactive design experiences are like water: they take the form of the device you’re viewing them on, and in turn fully deliver the content and experience, regardless of that device.

Here’s the 101 of responsive web design: it is based around CSS, HTML, and fluid grids and images. Instead of looking at a website as a page, look at it as a system of modules that change in size and shape to fit the screen you’re viewing them on. Pretty simple. Right? Not so fast.

Like all things that last and remain effective…it must remain adaptive. That takes strategic thinking, not just fancy code.

We at Zemoga call that overarching awareness Adaptive Design. It’s why we take the approach as Experience Architects. Thinking through all the contextual nuance and options the user has, or desires… and then making them fluid, yeah…like water…and Bruce Lee. But it’s more than just responsive, because the thinking goes deeper than just knowing technologies like CSS, HTML5 and these fluid grids. It digs deeper. And sometimes to get the best water, you need to go deeper.

Responsive web design is the root of that adaptive experience and is the most effective way to ensure your users are receiving the most engaging experience, regardless of device. These experiences need to exists at the center, inside of a larger adaptive web design strategy. Much of what looks like responsive web design on the surface is really done through other, more strategic Adaptive Design strategies that come first.

When you’re designing a digital experience that is adaptive to the users’ consumption behaviors, you have to think about more than desktop and mobile. Your site and the content you deliver have to be frictionless on both, but it also has to function in every possible resolution in between.

And when SEO is critical, as it always is, having a responsive website is clutch. If your site has both a mobile version and a desktop version, they exist on two separate URLs. Your traffic is split between the two depending on the path. If your site is responsive, it uses the same URL for both mobile and desktop. In short, Google likes responsive web design, and so should you.

Responsive web design alone isn’t always the best option, though. If the user experience is substantially different between platforms, a mobile-dedicated site might be the best option. For example, subdomains that are expected to have short lifespans, such as contests or limited campaigns, would be suited for mobile-dedicated sites. Maybe you want to build a microsite targeted to mobile devices only: imagine touring a museum that has QR codes on various exhibits. The destination site would only ever be visited on a mobile device.

The shape of web development is always changing and you should always be aware of the shape your experiences are in. Our job is to distill our clients’ digital experiences down to their purest responsive form.

We’re always looking for new and interesting ways that responsive web design has been used. Here are a few examples of our responsive websites. Let us know your favorite uses of responsive web design in the comments below.


Z-Predictions for 2013

Zemoga drives digital design and development by creating engaging, transactional experiences for some of the world’s top brands. Stay on top of your digital game with our hot list for the new year:


Download the Z-Predictions 2013 in PDF format.