Technology is almost always iterative, evolving from and improving on ideas that already exist. Most of the time, the evolution is gradual, like an upgrade from an iPhone 6 to an iPhone 6S. But sometimes, technology takes a quantum leap forward and delivers a customer experience so new it completely transcends the products that came before it, as the original iPhone overshadowed the Palm Treo.

A giant leap is certainly more exciting than a small step, but it also represents a greater customer experience challenge. It’s hard enough ensuring quality CX when launching a new product, but for a business essentially launching a new product category, the challenges grow exponentially. How do you market something to consumers that doesn’t have a clear reference point? Which aspects should be monetized, and which shouldn’t? How do you ensure a consistent user journey?

Below, we take a look at three pioneering technologies navigating new frontiers of customer experience.


For most users, the evolution from 3G wireless networks to 4G boiled down to a linear improvement in broadband speed, but the fast-approaching 5G revolution heralds a more fundamental transformation. 5G connectivity, coming as early as 2020, promises speeds up to 40 times faster than 4G with latency rates of 1ms. It’s hard to overstate the impact this would have for end users and the digital customer experience.

Video buffer times could become a thing of the past. Content that today takes minutes to download will only take seconds. 4K 3D video will stream seamlessly, enabling rich, new media from content creators, as well as powerful ad experiences from brands.

5G will also power entirely new technologies that simply don’t exist yet at scale. Perhaps the most disruptive of these will be the rise of remote telemedicine and robotic surgery. In the near future, internet speed and availability will improve to such an extent that doctors will be able to “beam” themselves into a patient’s home. This will enable not only greater mobility for medical professionals, but also bring healthcare to rural areas and other places with limited access to physical infrastructure.

Augmented Reality

Often regarded as virtual reality’s little cousin, AR tech arguably presents a far more daunting challenge for digital customer experience. After all, VR can be orchestrated from beginning to end, with every minute detail precisely calibrated to a designer’s intentions. In contrast, AR needs to get along with the real world, since it functions as a graphical overlay rather than a window into a fully siloed experience.

For devices like Microsoft’s HoloLens or Magic Leap, the first step to ensuring a quality user experience will be creating use cases that bridge the divide between the physical and digital worlds in meaningful ways. We’ve all seen product demos showcasing floating inboxes and browser windows, but whether that functionality is as useful as it is novel remains to be seen. Conversely, it’s easy to see how an AR GPS app overlaid on top of the real world could be helpful for users that have trouble orienting themselves in three-dimensional space by way of a two-dimensional map.

4DX Movie Theatres

The last major shakeup to the American movie going experience occurred in 2009 when James Cameron’s Avatar debuted and became the highest-grossing film of all time, helping inaugurate the modern era of 3D cinema. While audiences have continued to flock to 3D films in the years since, moviegoers have also been eagerly awaiting the next big thing, which appears to have arrived in the form of 4DX Cinema.

First introduced in South Korea in 2009, 4DX offers audiences an added layer of immersion through a variety of environmental effects, ranging from artificial fog and rain to specialized lighting and motion-powered seats. Stateside, the first 4DX theatres sprang up in LA around 2014 and have gradually expanded to locations in New York and elsewhere.

While 4DX represents a compelling iteration on the typical movie theatre experience, it also carries its fair share of CX concerns. Like 3D, it will undoubtedly cause motion sickness for some viewers, while others may find effects like leg and back “ticklers” a bit over the top. The technology also calls into question the main revenue stream for most theatres: concessions. Will theatregoers feel as inclined to shell out $15 for nachos if they know there’s a good chance they’ll get flung across the room?