Microcontrollers and design – what’s the connection?

How are microcontrollers being used, and do they impact what visual designers do? Microcontrollers are used in all sorts of electronic devices, home appliances, medical equipment, vehicles, phones and countless other physical products. These are not what you may first think of in terms of graphic design and visual communication. However, the user interface, accessibility and overall user experience of these products is usually designed by someone with a visual communication background.

Interface design

The design of product interfaces has changed over the years, due to changes in user needs and expectations as well as new technologies such as microcontrollers. The microcontroller’s capacity for connectivity can result in dynamic displays that change in response to new data, or products that upgrade themselves. Visual designers consider aspects such as what information to display when, legibility of fonts, emotional impact of colours and words, use of icons and diagrams, affordances presented by the design, accessibility by users with different abilities, and tactile or aural feedback during the user’s interaction with the product.

This tiny Arduino-compatible microcontroller can be used for wearable tech applications

Graphic design

A microcontroller business card

Data visualisation

Many devices with embedded microcontrollers are connected to the Internet of Things, which refers to the ever-growing network of devices that can exchange data with each other via the Internet. This means there is a need to make sense of this big data and display it in a way human beings can understand and use. That’s where visual designers come in, with skills in information design, infographics, visual analytics and data visualisation. The design of dashboards to display and analyse complex information is a growing area for visual designers.

City water Management Dashboard
City water Management Dashboard by Johny vino™

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