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

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3
votes
3answers
170 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 two segments for flickering lights - one spaced on top of the other - as to ...
5
votes
1answer
330 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
122 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
177 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 ...
29
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
212
votes
15answers
39k 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
2k views

Why electric car windows can be automatic for driver's window and manual for others?

I'm European and I don't understand the logic behind electric car windows commands. In a lot of cars, a driver can fully open the electric window on his side with a single push. But if he wants to ...
25
votes
6answers
1k 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
140 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
81 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
496 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 ...
26
votes
4answers
2k 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
238 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
355 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 ...
28
votes
12answers
2k 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 ...
22
votes
5answers
2k 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
475 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
246 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 ...
17
votes
7answers
1k 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
410 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". ...
3
votes
3answers
714 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
667 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
176 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
201 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
481 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
938 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 ...
59
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
169 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
3k 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
588 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
420 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 ...
24
votes
11answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
950 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
5k 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
829 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 ...
30
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
75
votes
9answers
8k 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
194 views

Is it better to mirror a real-world system for specialized users?

I'm designing a web interface for a control-center kind of thing that's extremely information-dense because it controls a fairly complex system. To an outsider, it's kind of been like trying to make ...
39
votes
7answers
5k views

Why do ATMs need to take your card in?

In every ATM I've seen, the card is "swallowed" by the machine, and returned at one point or another (or not, if you type the wrong PIN 3 times or whatever). This leads to people forgetting the card, ...
14
votes
4answers
439 views

Keyboard number row ordering

On a typical keyboard, why is the 0 in the number row next to the 9 instead of the 1? This seems like a question which should have a straight-forward answer, but the only one I could find is this ...
4
votes
5answers
415 views

How can the mode of a car's transmission be made more clear?

In a car, if you press the accelerator it can do one of three things: make the car go forward. make the car go backward. not move the car at all. The result depends on what gear the car is in, but ...
30
votes
7answers
2k views

A better condom user experience

The lack of use of condoms is one of the most critical issues in global health today. However the problems with condoms have little to do with how effective they are when used. Instead the problems ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Elevator dispatch algorithm choice

We have a single elevator servicing an 8 level residential building. What might be the optimal elevator positioning algorithm to optimize user experience (primarily, wait time)? I was thinking ...
11
votes
13answers
4k views

Why do physical keyboards still have built-in numpads?

Normally I use a wireless keyboard without a number pad and a mouse right next to it. Having started a new job, I was finding my right arm somewhat more sore. This was confusing until I realized: ...
101
votes
19answers
16k views

Which way should be “on” for a switch?

Most of us use switches every day in various forms. And although there are sometimes general norms in countries as to which direction is "on", there is variation between countries. So when ...
2
votes
3answers
325 views

Is this a Mapping or Visibility issue?

I am thinking about whether my faucet has an issue with mapping, or visibility. I searched for the shower button for 5 minutes! Can you find the mechanism to turn on the shower (rather than have ...
19
votes
12answers
1k views

Why are child-resistant packages sometimes easier to open by kids than adults?

Based on discussions with friends and colleagues there seem to be difficulties opening child-resistant packages in general. There are even stories of parents letting their kids (supervised) open child ...
1
vote
2answers
548 views

Designing UX for an In Vehicle Infotainment system

I am working on an In Vehicle Infotainment System. This is one particular use case I am finding difficult to think in terms of UX : There is an IVI system attached in car which can take commands ...
1
vote
2answers
203 views

Newspaper design

Why hasn't the traditional newspaper design changed much in years? Wouldn't they be easier to hold and read if newspapers were smaller and more book-like? I am guessing that the newspapers are ...