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

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2
votes
3answers
229 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 ...
16
votes
7answers
947 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
360 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
561 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
523 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
174 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
190 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
383 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
739 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
156 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
2k 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
425 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
326 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
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
759 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
4k 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
749 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
1k 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 ...
72
votes
9answers
7k 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
182 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 ...
38
votes
7answers
4k 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
405 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
364 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
929 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 ...
8
votes
12answers
3k 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: ...
97
votes
19answers
13k 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
291 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
480 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
198 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
579 views

Why are sinks always rounded?

I've noticed a trend recently that some sinks have a flat base, but they seem to be few and far between. Are there any reasons related to UX for why sinks have traditionally always been round?
1
vote
2answers
496 views

Where are the most optimal places to put laptop speakers?

I got one of these computers for Christmas. Overall, I thought it was a pretty average laptop.... ...except for one thing, the speakers. The speakers are placed at the lower left and right hand ...
115
votes
14answers
9k views

Who needs an external on/off Wi-Fi button?

It puzzles me that there are Laptops which are shipped with external physical Wi-Fi buttons. I see no real use of it, but it might have a historical explanation?! The only time one notice the external ...
1
vote
1answer
180 views

Headlight and Indicators on the handlebar OR on the front panel of the Scooter that you drive?

There are 3 designs existing now: Headlight and indicator lights both on the handle. Headlight on the handle but indicator lights on the front panel. Headlight and indicator lights both on the front ...
17
votes
7answers
2k views

Why are AC adapters (wall warts) designed to block adjacent AC outlets?

The AC adapters for a lot of equipment seem to be specifically designed to block the AC outlets around it (this is in the US). Is this a safety feature to minimize the power to that outlet or just ...
4
votes
4answers
321 views

Controls on moving controls?

It hit me today when driving home from work turning right in a highly busy crossing. I wanted to lower the music volume but couldn’t find the control without looking. On previous cars I’ve owned, the ...
84
votes
8answers
8k views

What reason could Nintendo have had for putting the A and B buttons the wrong way round?

When Nintendo brought out it's first game system, the NES, it had a controller with four buttons: Select Start A B However, somewhere, a designer, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the A and ...
31
votes
7answers
4k views

Why don't sandwich toasters have an on/off switch?

The absolute majority of electrical appliances have an On/Off switch. However, the absolute majority of sandwich toasters do not - you just plug them into the socket and unplug them when you're done. ...
4
votes
2answers
110 views

Does having WiFi spots and similar equipment visible improve user experience?

Suppose I'm planning an office or a restaurant or a city. I need to plan where I have wireless communication spots installed. Those may be WiFi spots or cell towers or DECT phone spots. I've planned ...
232
votes
24answers
35k views

How can users be prevented from pouring water into the bean compartment of a coffee machine?

Typical coffee machines have two user-accessible compartments: one for water and one for coffee beans. Pouring water into the bean compartment kills most machines, the repairs cost a fortune. Now ...
8
votes
4answers
267 views

Is the middle power option 50% or 60%?

A friend of mine has a blender with 6 control selections: One off position, and five power settings in order of less to more power. Example below: A discussion has erupted over whether or not the ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

Why did Google opt-out of hardware buttons for Nexus devices?

Are there any real UX reasons to remove hardware buttons from Android Nexus devices? In above Nexus 4 the bottom part is wasted space - won't adding buttons like menu/back/home make it more ...
15
votes
11answers
2k views

“Tool” or “target” on vacuum cleaner pedal?

I always get confused by the icons on my vacuum cleaner pedal. Take a look at the upper icon. Is that icon representing 1) The tool. I.e. "Your now using the pedal without the brush" (ergo, on a ...
7
votes
2answers
242 views

Interesting visualizations for a personnel in-out control

I have a database with the data of all the company personnel in and out through several facilities (All people must put their fingerprint in the scanner to open doors) I'm looking for interesting way ...
7
votes
5answers
769 views

How useful is this coffee cup “hot contents” warning?

I came across this on Dan Pink's blog. This caption on a coffee cup is supposed to serve as a warning sign to caution people that the coffee is hot and care must be taken to avoid burns. The ...
6
votes
2answers
539 views

Keyboard shortcuts on non-QWERTY keyboard layouts

I've been using the Dvorak keyboard layout for a few years, and something that's always bothered me is keyboard shortcuts. On a QWERTY keyboard copy and paste are conveniently positioned as Ctrl+C and ...
4
votes
2answers
137 views

Conditioning users

Playing around with my heat in my new vw gti ;), I noticed when you press the heated seats button once, it's starts you off with maximum greatness (3 / 3) press it again it goes down ( 2 / 3) (1 / 3) ...