PROFILE

Ken Lonyai

Consultant, Strategist, Tech Innovator, UX Evangelist

Ken is a 15 year veteran of interactive project development including some of the industry’s most unique experiential systems. His skills span the on-line world and nearly every realm of human/computer interface used by brands and retailers – mobile, interactive kiosks, experiential displays, and more. Known as the man with the miniature R&D lab in his head, when he’s not working on a client project, Ken can be found designing, tinkering, and developing some cool new experiential device in SPIA Labs.

He is a consumer engagement expert using cutting-edge, unique, and enticing brand experiences that encourage “like”, “share”, and “buy now” behaviors, as well as a creator of true consumer excitement by baking-in fun, social, and gamification actions that generate results. Focused on producing “amazing user experiences” for brands and retailers, he helps companies transform into destinations that consumers seek out and want to interact with.

Ken is a subject matter expert in user experience, most things interactive, experiential marketing, mobile app strategy/development, and digital UX/UI.

Additionally, he is a co-founder of NUI Central™, an organization to promote using natural human traits (voice, gesture, eye movement, etc.) to bi-directionally interact with smart devices.

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Perspectives (blog)

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  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Is the environment Amazon’s Achilles heel or opportunity?

    Correct. How many shoppers are aware, how much effort does Amazon put into their "eco-friendlier" awareness and explaining the environmental benefit, and most importantly, how many choose it? I'll venture it's all minimal.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Is the environment Amazon’s Achilles heel or opportunity?

    Amazon will benefit very little from changing their practices to improve the environment. I certainly don't know all that they've done to date environmentally, but they are clearly greenwashers. That said, I don't care about Amazon benefiting, I care about the environment. Most people will say the same and still order one item at a time because they can have it the next day or sometimes the same day. It's a habit that will not change substantially because for most humans, the delight of getting a shiny new thing for immediate gratification outweighs far off benefits of controlling their urges for the greater good. Just the other day I thought of how Bezos wants to move humans into space and manufacture items there in a very distant future stating "...Earth can be zoned residential.” Yet HIS COMPANY is enhancing environmental problems on multiple fronts in the present. He already has too much money, so without question he has the opportunity to "be the change" and make a difference now, instead he has chosen profits and hypocrisy.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2019

    Are mixed reality apps set to skyrocket?

    It’s hard for me to accept that this is still a discussion question in 2019. Mobile AR is here to stay and will grow so long as (in the retail world) it’s baked into an existing app and eventually, a mobile site. It’s another layer of useful data and/or entertaining experience to engage users. Design with that mindset and it will be accepted and utilized, even by current doubters. AR headgear is niche market and only has a possibility of real growth if it’s seamlessly integrated into prescription glasses or sunglasses. All the hyped goggles have plateaued with niche markets and will not see much future growth.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2019

    Ralph Lauren offers consumers a DIY counterfeit-checking tool

    I'd like to know the details of how the Digital Product Identities system works. Obviously a QR code tag can be faked too, so there has to be more behind it. TruTag nano-porous silica considered GRAS--says who? This might be substituting one problem for another.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2019

    Survey says consumers want online orders shipped fast and free

    If it's readily available, who wouldn't want any perk they can get including fast and free shipping? The reality is (as many have said here over the years) free shipping is an illusion that's rolled into the price of goods. Elevating shipping to faster and faster intervals increases the cost of logistics/inventory management/shipping that consumers will be paying for as well. All that really happens is smaller businesses without scale get made more uncompetitive and eventually fade away. In time, that allows the remaining "at scale" players to creep selling prices upwards and hide the cost of fast/free shipping right under consumers' noses. Shoppers: be careful what you wish for.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2019

    McDonald’s drive-thru AI knows what you want before you order

    Drive-up ordering has always been a convenience fraught with challenges on both sides of the crackly speaker and an area of customer experience ripe for improvement. The first thing McDonald's has done right is to ask the customer for permission to apply AI to their ordering experience. That's a huge privacy factor lost on even the biggest of digital purveyors. As I said just a few days ago "... spooky equals secrecy, delight equals transparency." In this case (all really), being upfront about it turns the experience from a surreptitious one to something that potentially invites customer experimentation and social sharing. Next, they are adapting suggestions to account for factors beyond just previous order history "...like weather, wait time and item popularity." I'm confident that time-of-day is a variable too. This is an area where AI can differentiate itself from a history lookup engine. Lastly, there's the labor question. I have no doubt that advanced digital/automation technologies including AI and robotics will replace human workers despite all the insipid claims that displaced workers will be retrained as robot repair staff. Not going to happen. This part is definitely a societal question that needs genuine consideration.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2019

    Will free deliveries for Prime members make Amazon the driving force in online grocery?

    This undoubtedly will drive more business, but not significantly. I look at it as another chink in the armor Amazon has wrapped around the myth that when they paired with Whole Foods, they would be unstoppable. Whole Foods is such a mess in so many ways, especially its SKU for SKU excessive pricing, that this is just a Band-Aid.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2019

    AI needs to be more than just a bright, shiny object

    AI absolutely works well for repetitive tasks, but portraying the usefulness of AI as little more than an automation tool is silly. Like anything new, first movers often make mistakes and sometimes get suckered by salespeople pushing the latest be all end all. Nevertheless, AI is making excellent strides where logical use cases and due diligence drive deployments. As an example, AI is part of the bedrock of the banking industry behind the scenes and increasingly consumer facing. To think that retail is some exception that won’t follow suit is ridiculous.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2019

    What makes voice assistants creepy?

    It sounds to me like you’re arguing against yourself, Doug. People have the devices and are trying them for voice commerce because they want voice commerce. Have you ever seen an e-commerce web site from 1996 and compared it to one from today? It’s early days for voice commerce and it too will improve drastically, especially when it finally evolves to be part of a multimodal commerce interface/experience. Lastly, you are incorrect that “Voice recognition remains so poor.” The best systems (including those from Apple, Google, and Amazon) have voice recognition capabilities that surpass human voice recognition. They can be hampered by environmental noise and speaker distance, but that is being iterated continually.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2019

    What makes voice assistants creepy?

    FYI - uncanny valley dates to 1970. It’s less relevant now, especially for those who have human-like technologies around them from early childhood.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2019

    What makes voice assistants creepy?

    Although I do not put anything past any of the companies offering intelligent assistants, based on known research and a deeper understanding of user profiling mechanisms, I’m extremely doubtful about surreptitious listening. Rather (and this would require an extensive response) users leave enough behavioral indicators directly and indirectly, especially through demographic matching and matching to associates, that it SEEMS like the assistants are spying. That said, it would behoove these brands to finally shed light on their practices around privacy and data gathering/usage, to finally quell user concerns across all channels. By not doing so, they are hampering the potential of intelligent assistants and ultimately their own profitability. Additionally, they are flaunting with bringing more legislation. So the short answer is spooky equals secrecy, delight equals transparency.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2019

    What does artificial intelligence mean for loyalty marketing?

    Most brands and retailers haven't even approached 1 percent of AI's potential. I agree with Bill's statement "Enhancing your analytics engine with AI can make it possible to optimize individual experiences at scale" but... that is only a first step and will fall short of meaningful personalization in the long run. The biggest blunder I see everywhere AI is employed in a consumer/user-facing scenario is keeping it under the covers away from users. AI is most often employed as a secret analysis mechanism which limits it to being only as good as underlying algorithms and the assumptions driving them. There is a complete fear of using those assumptions as a basis of asking consumers/users if the AI-generated conclusions are correct or if not, where they are wrong or what their preferences are. Doing as I describe alongside other queries strategically placed (like in a product discovery phase) greatly enhances the USABLE data that can drive AI and its subsequent personalization.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2019

    What should retailers do when brands post fake reviews?

    1,000 reviews doesn’t validate anything. There is a car dealership in New Jersey that has something like 50ish Yelp reviews resulting in about 2.5 stars. In Google reviews, there are around 1,000+ mostly five star, mostly naming two salespeople as wonderful, and all of those are posted by “reviewers” with no other reviews. Just last week, I looked for a special charging cable on Amazon and found at least half a dozen with 1,000+ five star reviews. Browsing the included reviews, they were for everything but the cable, including I believe, a washing machine. Simply put: Google, Amazon, and others are disinterested in solving this problem despite claims and abilities otherwise.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2019

    Should companies have to pay you to use your personal data?

    I love the idea -- in theory. In reality, exactly what constitutes personal data? There is limited respect for "personal data" among companies operating in the U.S. and there absolutely are needed improvements along the lines of the E.U. This proposal, however, while sounding great, leaves a lot of space for debate/interpretation after the campaign. If it were a bill brought to a discussion for a vote, I'd have a lot more interest. As campaign rhetoric, it has little meaning. Look at how few campaign promises the current president made that have actually come to pass.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2019

    What is Amazon’s ultimate Alexa strategy?

    I've been arguing against the naivete around Alexa for a long time. There is far from significant money in selling Echo devices and/or a supporting ecosystem of home automation hardware in comparison to the ongoing MASSIVE investment it takes to make VUIs (Voice User Interfaces) and make their underlying AI work in a reasonably human fashion. Amazon is a smart company. They would never go down that road unless two things were driving it: deeper data collection and voice commerce. Yes -- voice-driven commerce. That is where the money is for Alexa. Comments about voice commerce not being well-received or not having taken off yet are ridiculous in light of the fact that in 1995 the same could be said about the internet and in 1999 the same for e-commerce. It -- takes -- time. The other crucial lost point among many is that voice alone is a limited interface for commerce, except for known goods, such as reordering one's favorite ________ . In fact, each single interface modality has shortcomings. Humans are multi-sensory for a reason and technology is/will be following suit. Echo devices and all brands will be evolving into multimodal interfaces to solve the shortcomings single interface modalities have. I know -- I've built them. When multimodal interfaces are fully in place, the concept of typing search terms for products and scrolling through page after page of results will largely be relegated to legends grandparents tell their grandchildren.

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