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

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7
votes
6answers
1k 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
137 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
80 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
490 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
237 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
351 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
449 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
242 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
994 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
401 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
683 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
631 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
200 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
459 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
880 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 ...
58
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
166 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
545 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
5answers
413 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
905 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
822 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
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 ...
74
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
192 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
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
430 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
400 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: ...
100
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
319 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
524 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
199 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
733 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
605 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 ...
116
votes
14answers
10k 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
188 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 ...
18
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
336 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 ...