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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

32
votes
9answers
3k views

Why don't most elevator panels let you unselect?

We've all seen it in the movies where a kid will push all the buttons in an elevator. We've all likely done it - accidentally hit the wrong floor. There's no unselect after you select a floor in an ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Why do light switch buttons have up/down direction when it's really a toggle function?

If you do a quick image search on your favorite search engine on "light switch" you get a large number of images. Most of them have up and down direction, to represent state. Up for on in the US, and ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is the accelerator pedal different

The question is in reference to cars. The accelerator pedal is more elongated than the other two and usually softer as well. Why?
9
votes
4answers
503 views

Why did packaging for reams of paper change from paper to plastic?

After realizing UX includes the wonderfully apropos tag "physical" I am hoping to get some insight into something that has long been a conundrum for me: when the packaging around a ream of paper ...
9
votes
4answers
822 views

Why do Pedestrian Traffic Signals only play the audible crossing notification for only a short duration and not for the entire duration of crossing?

As per with the American Disability Act (ADA), audible pedestrian signals are supposed to be implemented in most traffic signal projects. These audible signals are designed to assist visually impaired ...
13
votes
5answers
604 views

Why do Juice cartons fail on opening?

When I open a simple juice carton I fail on opening. I always seem to waste some of the concentrated juice on the kitchen sink and I wonder – do I do it wrong or is it the package that does not have a ...
5
votes
2answers
245 views

Steps on stairs in groups of 8

I have noticed than most buildings with stairs, seem to group into 8 steps or 16 before each break, unless the total of steps are for example 6 or 10 and more/less steps would mean too high or too low ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Why do light switches find themselves OUTSIDE the room they light up in some European countries?

Okay, to be fair my experience is mostly with Poland, though I have observed this electrical interior design decision in a few neighboring countries while travelling, but can't generalize there. ...
9
votes
2answers
596 views

Why are most public restroom faucets so short?

My question was inspired by this one. The majority of public restrooms have huge sinks and short faucets. When I wash my hands, most of the time I touch the back wall of the sink and that makes me ...
182
votes
15answers
32k views

Why do most public toilet doors open inwards?

The design of public restrooms usually pays great attention to hand washing, providing facilities like wash basin - sometimes with touch free taps - soap dispenser, hand drier or paper towels... All ...
6
votes
8answers
377 views

Order of physical controls: volume down, volume up, mute

My speaker has 3 physical buttons in this order: volume down volume up mute I find the order quite illogical, I would expect: volume up volume down mute Is there any convention on the ...
60
votes
4answers
4k views

Why do numpads on keyboards and phones have reversed layouts?

I came across this on the web. It's supposed to be funny, but we all know better :) So, why are the numpad layouts different, and what are the reasons behind each?
6
votes
2answers
683 views

Is there any research available about the speed of working with a mouse vs. working with a trackpad?

I ask this because of a friend who never hooks up a mouse to his laptop because he claims he can work just as fast with a trackpad as with a mouse. My personal experience is the other way around. I ...
3
votes
2answers
242 views

Self Service Checkouts [closed]

I have, in the last few months, had to endure these hideous devices. I dislike them because I find them intensely patronising "Invalid item in bagging area" - no it isn't, it is the item you have just ...
27
votes
14answers
4k views

Traffic lights: why yellow before green?

Traffic lights around the world use the yellow light to warn people that it will soon turn to red, so that people can stop before. This is perfectly understandable. However, I found out that in some ...
5
votes
4answers
501 views

One charger for all cell phones

I'm sure you all have experienced the same problem. The scenario is simple. You have forgotten to take your cell phone's charger with you, and your phone is going to be turned off, because it lacks ...
4
votes
3answers
450 views

Air keyboard - does it exist?

Is there some kinect-like device with an application that lets users type in the air and reads what keys they would have typed, were there a keyboard? Even a prototype or a research effort? It ...
8
votes
4answers
263 views

What are the User Experience disciplines in the analog world?

It is clear to me that User Experience (UX) is about how a person feels about using a product, system or service. This website is focused on the digital world, but what happens on the analog world? ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do manufacturers of most small/medium refrigerators default the door to swing counter-clockwise?

Most people are right-handed, right hand is handy. However, most small/medium refrigerator doors swing counter-clockwise by default. This forces you to move/arrange heavy things with your left hand. ...
21
votes
4answers
656 views

Bathrooms near elevators

Some office buildings have communal bathrooms (British English: lavatories). By this I mean bathrooms for use by the tenants and guests of all the offices on that floor, as opposed to bathrooms under ...
1
vote
1answer
45 views

Applying research on the ‘signposting’ of categories in a system with a large number of different items - to a physical world environment

Does any body know of either: 1 / Any research which looks at the best ways to categorise and signpost items in a system with a large number of items ? (This could be in a standard software ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Reason for blinking laptop power light on suspend

My HP Pavilion laptop has a power light on the switch (a slide-and-release switch). This light is off when the computer is off or hibernated, constantly on when the power is on, and it blinks when the ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

What are the benefits of non-QWERTY keyboards?

I'm stuck with QWERTY, but have been tempted to try Dvorak. Dvorak advocates claim it's faster. Are there any studies that compare these two (main) keyboard layouts? Are there other layouts out there ...
19
votes
9answers
2k views

Why do alarm clocks not all come with 5/7 day alarms for the working week?

In all the advances in usability why do alarm clocks still wake us up on Saturday? Why not only Monday to Friday instead of being set every night? Do we have to rely on our mobile phone if we want ...
23
votes
7answers
1k views

How can a TV Remote's UX be improved?

TV remotes have the astounding distinction of having about half as many keys as my keyboard and one thousandth the functionality. The problem stems from the (perceived) need to present every possible ...
331
votes
20answers
18k views

Why do people clear the screen multiple times when using a calculator?

I've noticed that most people when using a real or a virtual calculator, they hit the Clear button multiple times when clearing the screen (even though hitting it once is enough), so I started ...
26
votes
10answers
2k views

Traffic lights: “yellow” is progress, not state

When thinking about how (real-world) traffic lights work, I wonder if there is a more intuitive way to display the yellow light. The meaning of Green and Red are states: Green: Ok, you can go! Red: ...
12
votes
3answers
686 views

What is the reason for Concave round buttons in Elevators

What is the reason many elevators have concave shaped buttons. Like this: Any special reason behind this?
2
votes
3answers
560 views

What is the best user interface you have ever used/seen in real-world or real-world objects? [closed]

Exclude all web/mobile/application/computer software interfaces.
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Should a light switch be small or big, or does this depend on other factors?

Small and big light switch compared: It's strange that this usually differs by country. The big ones are easier to hit, but the small ones provide better feedback (if you don't immediately see the ...
7
votes
2answers
244 views

Do manufacturers of markers produce different shapes for each type (whiteboard/permanent) so you can tell the difference by touch?

In the sense that this is an interface with the user of pens, I thought this might be an acceptable place to ask this question, but if it's just application interfaces, then please remove or close ...
19
votes
6answers
4k views

Why does the Redbox machine have barriers around the credit card swipe reader?

Perhaps you've seen one of these before. A couple of inches above and below the magnetic stripe reader are protrusions that allow just enough room to swipe a credit card. The barriers are a ...