For questions involving physical interfaces and interactions with "real world" objects.

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44
votes
12answers
12k views

Why did early telephones use a rotary dial instead of 10 individual buttons?

I was watching a video of little kids trying to figure out how to use a rotary phone, and it was not immediately clear to any of them how the rotary mechanism was supposed to work. That got me ...
18
votes
3answers
387 views

How do blind people know where to find Braille signs?

On many occasions I have seen signs, with the equivalent in Braille underneath the text. Which is great. But what baffles me is this: how do blind people know where to find the Braille text? I don't ...
25
votes
2answers
1k views

The reasoning behind book dust jacket while there is a hardcover

I am wondering, what is the reason behind adding a dust jacket when a book has a hardcover as well. Initially, the purpose seems to be obvious: to protect the hardcover below it, so that it does not ...
7
votes
1answer
253 views

Why do stove dials rotate from “max to min” instead of “min to max”?

Unlike microwaves, on every stove-top/oven I've used, a dial that controls the stove elements can be turned backward to click to the maximum setting, while the dial that controls the oven temperature, ...
2
votes
3answers
129 views

Is there a standard for the positioning of the elevator control buttons?

I've always wondered why elevator control buttons are found where they are. For example, the following image shows the elevator control buttons positioned on the right side. The way I see it, ...
2
votes
2answers
164 views

public transit bus stop and door buttons

Not directly software related, I wonder about UX design in public transit busses. In Germany, some time ago there was a simple system in public transit busses: If the bus was quite empty, and no one ...
15
votes
4answers
847 views

What's the optimal seat arrangement for a self-driving car?

Take your average mid-sized sedan layout (though this is the view of an SUV, it should illustrate the idea for anyone who has never been in a car before.): You have a driver's seat and a ...
8
votes
5answers
553 views

Volume controls: Why is left down and right up?

I see a lot of people discuss the order of buttons (e.g., should OK be on the left and cancel on the right? or submit button on the left or right?) but something that I wonder: Why do volume ...
4
votes
5answers
555 views

Why do some cars have the fuel door on the passenger's side?

Many cars, such as the BMW M3 pictured below, have their fuel door on the passenger's side of the car. I do not understand the reasoning behind placing the fuel door opposite the driver; placing it ...
2
votes
4answers
280 views

Thermostat UIs make me guess and think too hard

Every digital thermostat panel I've come across - just HORRENDOUS! There's a temperature display. Fine. There's an up and down arrow. First thought, it's to change the temperature. Good. There's the ...
2
votes
2answers
128 views

Why are TV bezels there?

Isn't it true that LCD display units only have ribbon wirings on their bottom (or any one side)? So, this should leave the other sides from covering up their edges, shouldn't it? I have read somewhere ...
-6
votes
1answer
293 views

Why AMBULANCE is written as ECNALUBMA on emergency vehicles?

Why is AMBULANCE sometimes mirror written on emergency vehicles ?
2
votes
1answer
67 views

Do you know any good source for human-robot interactions?

"In most cases, user experience design (UX or UXD or UED) fully encompasses traditional human-computer interaction (HCI) design, and extends it by addressing all aspects of a product or service as ...
3
votes
3answers
132 views

Is it a good idea to set a different signal for performing a u-turn?

For a long time, I wondered why is there not a separate indication to signify a u-turn, e.g. the rear lights would have would have two segments for flickering lights - one spaced on top of the other - ...
4
votes
1answer
191 views

Is there any attempt to standardize a “cancel” action in elevator buttons?

I live in a country where only a few (I've heard of 2 or 3) elevators has the option to toggle back a pressed button in order to cancel the request. Of course, I'm waiting for all elevator buttons ...
2
votes
1answer
109 views

How to make microwaves meals easier to empty [closed]

There seems to be a problem with the common way to deliver a microwave meal. From a flat, compartmentalised tray contents must be tipped or spooned onto a plate in order to be eaten. If there are two ...
0
votes
1answer
100 views

Why do most public buses and trains have a uniform chair height? [closed]

Given that different people have different heights, there seems to be for myself no reason why every chair in a bus has the same height. There could be different rows with different height and in an ...
23
votes
5answers
1k views

Why don't chinese teacups have handles

I am mystified over the difference between an English tea cup and a Chinese tea cup. The difference is that a chinese teacup does not have a handle/"ear" while an English teacup does have a ...
196
votes
15answers
35k views

Why do washing machines have windows?

I'm curious why every front-loaded washing machine I've seen so far comes with a window, while other household machines, like dishwashers, don't. From a design or UI/UX perspective, why would one ...
22
votes
6answers
841 views

Why do department stores create bad experiences with escalators?

In my local department store (House of Fraser, High Wycombe, UK) there are 3 floors with escalators in the middle of the store. It drives me a little bit crazy, because the direction the escalators ...
1
vote
1answer
96 views

Best practices for hardware keyboard input on tablet

I'm creating a form Android tablet app that will be used connected to a physical keyboard. The goal is to help users quickly fill out forms while visiting our conference booth. The tablets will be ...
2
votes
2answers
75 views

Do large format books make a substantial improvement?

In the last several years I've seen larger format books alongside the familiar pocket paperbacks. Sometimes these are taller, sometimes they are wider, and sometimes both. I've wound up with these in ...
2
votes
4answers
446 views

Why is there a contradiction between red in software and in workshop hardware?

If we often use red in software to warn someone to think before interacting with something, like a delete button for example, why do serious power tools like circular bench saws have big red buttons ...
25
votes
4answers
1k views

Why are normal water coolers so low?

A lot of water coolers look like this: You usually have to bend down in order to place your glass under the spigot and fill it, which is annoying it if you're doing it more than a few times a day, ...
3
votes
5answers
173 views

Would a 'Processing' indicator on pedestrian crossing controls be helpful - and if so how would it be designed?

Pedestrian Crossings used to be simple things where you pressed a button and light went on saying 'wait' and then you waited until the red man turned to a green man. However, modern crossings in the ...
1
vote
1answer
211 views

Why are switches with light indicator common but outlets are not?

Wall mount light switches that have a neat light indicator that turns on when the switch is in "off" position are quite common. The purpose is to make finding the switch in the dark easier. Looks ...
27
votes
12answers
1k views

Real-life UX: What's wrong with our coffee maker?

At Stack Exchange, we have a very expensive espresso machine - professional quality. However, we are having a persistent, companywide problem with its use. It seems that after using the wand to ...
20
votes
5answers
805 views

Why do public restrooms place the paper holders so low?

Most public restrooms that I've used (in the US) place the paper holder very low, with the bottom of the roll (where you can grab the paper) below knee level when seated. This is not true in the ...
3
votes
5answers
271 views

Shower Controls

Having recently stayed in a hotel where the shower controls required the user to first pour cold water over themselves before it was possible to turn the control to the warm position: I wondered ...
2
votes
3answers
197 views

UI for dimming light

What is the best / natural UI (User Interface) for dimming multiple lighting zones (LEDs) using a microcontroller? Here is what I have thought so far Use rotary encoder to up/dn the brightness Use ...
15
votes
7answers
763 views

Is a book more user friendly than an e-book?

Lately I've had this thought that books were more user friendly than applications. Why do I say that? Because of these reasons: You can visibly see, at a given time where you are and how much you ...
2
votes
2answers
275 views

What is the psychology behind road markings on lanes unaffected by speed cameras?

In the UK, speed cameras are usually accompanied by white striped lines on the road. I have always assumed that was a visual reminder to the motorist to "watch your speed- it's about to be checked". ...
2
votes
3answers
299 views

Why do electric fan knobs often place the highest setting right after the off position?

Electric fans are often controlled by a knob which the user turns to power the fan on or off, and control the fan's speed. On a lot of fans, the knob goes immediately from the off position to the ...
2
votes
2answers
339 views

Method for usability testing of physical products

I am looking for a methodology for interaction testing of a physical product / interface. I am thinking something like expert testing (Heuristics) but just not for digital interfaces. Are there any ...
5
votes
2answers
165 views

Organising Spices for Cooking

In my kitchen I use a variety of spices, both powders and loose whole spices, numbering maybe 30 or 40 individual ingredients. Each one needs to be kept separate and reasonably well sealed while also ...
1
vote
2answers
141 views

How can airplane safety information cards be improved? [closed]

Consider the current safety information card aboard the American Airlines Boeing MD-80. It's a large, trifold brochure with four full-color pages of pictograms and one page of dense, small text ...
4
votes
4answers
267 views

Transparent resin casting vs. solid metal color

I am designing an electronics circuit (gps-tracker/recorder) that I would like to cast in a material for durability and aesthetics, as pictured. I may decide to sell it at some point. It would be ...
6
votes
5answers
388 views

How could petrol forecourts be designed to improve efficiency?

I am always shocked when I go to a petrol station. The layout- in the UK, at least- seems to be fairly standard. But it always seems to me to be incredibly inefficient. These are the issues: When ...
56
votes
14answers
4k views

How could you prevent users from leaving their original copy in the photocopier?

I've done this myself on many occasions, even though I know it's a common mistake I need to watch out for. The steps seem to go as follows (with typical thoughts in brackets): Walk up to ...
0
votes
1answer
137 views

How does the projection-angle of road arrows change drivers' expectations of the appropriate speed in a curve?

Have any studies been conducted to decide the 'print angle' (anamorphic projection) of road signage? Are there any other expectations involved?
5
votes
6answers
1k views

Why are soft drink bottles round, and milk cartons square?

EDIT: The coke bottle I am referring to in the question is 1.25L. Why are soft drink bottles round, but milk cartons square? The milk carton is more utilitarian, being more space efficient, and ...
2
votes
2answers
207 views

What does “form factor” mean when referring to software?

I'm asking about when the term is used in context of software UI. I see Wikipedia articles related to hardware when Googling the term, but not sure what people mean when they refer to it in context ...
13
votes
3answers
274 views

How to differentiate rechargeable from non-rechargeable batteries?

(For example) AA batteries are available as rechargeable and non-rechargeable variants. As they are of identical construction, you have to read the tiny text on the battery to find out if they are ...
23
votes
11answers
1k views

How to design a great unboxing experience?

I'm looking for examples or case studies for designing a manual for a physical as well as a digital product. We have an app which needs to be controlled by a physical checklist. Now I'm starting to ...
6
votes
3answers
421 views

Why is the caps lock key often so big on a keyboard?

It seems that the caps lock key is not a frequently used key on a computer keyboard yet on all the keyboards I have used, it is afforded a significant amount of interface real estate, often as much as ...
23
votes
9answers
2k views

How to stop car lights being left on

The lights in cars can be a very frustrating experience for users. Most of us who drive have left our lights on and quite a few of us will have come to our cars to find them completely unusable for ...
27
votes
12answers
658 views

How to stop people becoming marooned on a causeway

This question is based on a real world scenario… There is a causeway, roughly 1/4 of a mile long, over which the tide rapidly rises twice a day, rendering the tourist hot spot at the wrong end of it ...
27
votes
2answers
674 views

Why do coins in some countries not display their denomination? [closed]

Coins have two levels of interfaces: a physical interface (their size, shape and weight) -- usable by vending machines and to certain extent by people with long-established habits of using these ...
71
votes
9answers
6k views

Why is the “Record” icon always round and usually red?

I've been wondering why the symbol for 'record' is universally (AFAIK - has anyone seen exceptions?) a circle and usually red. Cameras, VCRs, voice recorders, smartphones, web apps... I've seen cases ...
8
votes
6answers
859 views

Childproof washing machine

My little boy (11 months old) has just discovered how the buttons and dials of the washing machine work. This is inconvenient, because the machine does not react well to random button mashing while ...