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

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31
votes
8answers
5k views

“Do Not Disturb” tags in hotels, how can they be improved?

We've seen keys being replaced by key cards, new LCD TVs, WiFi and LAN in each room but the one thing that doesn't seem to have changed is the "Do Not Disturb" tag that can be hung on the doorknob ...
9
votes
3answers
355 views

Why are double-handle taps still installed in households and public washrooms?

I'm wondering why double-handle faucets are still installed in sinks, bathtubs, etc in newer places of dwelling as well as public washrooms. From reading, they appear to be easier to install, but ...
2
votes
0answers
177 views

Why most of the microphones are placed on the left of headsets / headphones?

I've noticed that the mayority of the well-known brands (Sennheiser, Logitech, Plantronics, Razer, SteelSeries, Audio-Technica, Phillips, etc) tend to make headsets with the microphone on the left, is ...
-6
votes
1answer
417 views

Why AMBULANCE is written as ECNALUBMA on emergency vehicles?

Why is AMBULANCE sometimes mirror written on emergency vehicles ?
8
votes
3answers
753 views

Traffic light, no more shapes?

I remember when I was a kid. Each traffic lights had different shapes. Red = Square, Yellow = Triangle, Green = Circle. Now all the traffic lights that I see are round. Is there a reason why they ...
7
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
73 views

Why are push and twist switches more common in lamps than pull switches?

More than once, I've reached under a lampshade to turn on/off a light and had to a) search around hoping I didn't burn myself to find the switch and b) figure out which type of switch the lamp used ...
27
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
12answers
2k 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: ...
0
votes
1answer
89 views

Why is the groundfloor G on some lifts, and 1 on others?

The lift at my work for example, groundfloor is '1' and the next floor up is '2' and so on. Whereas other lifts, ground floor is 'G' and the next floor up is '1'. Is there a reason for this ...
42
votes
13answers
3k views

Why do Microwave oven UIs fail?

I’m not a professional chef, but I do know my way around the kitchen and its machines. The dishwasher, the fridge, the freezer, the stove and the oven all works as expected in many homes. Could you ...
22
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
59
votes
8answers
13k views

Why do traffic lights have three separate light bulbs instead of having one?

Recently, I checked out a concept design for a traffic light with only one light. Do you know the exact reason for having three lamps in a row, instead of one like in this concept?
27
votes
11answers
4k views

Touchscreen devices: why did the stylus fall out of favor?

It seems to me that devices (such as navigation systems) that use a stylus for touchscreen interaction have become out of of favor. Instead most new devices are intended (i. e. larger buttons etc.) to ...
21
votes
6answers
844 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 ...
47
votes
12answers
13k 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 ...
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 ...
19
votes
3answers
485 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
2k 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
300 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
2answers
188 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
160 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, ...
16
votes
5answers
3k 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
5answers
640 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
934 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
304 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
145 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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
3answers
139 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 - ...
203
votes
15answers
37k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
95 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 ...
27
votes
12answers
720 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
210 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
113 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
214 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 ...
62
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?
83
votes
7answers
7k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
130 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 ...
182
votes
15answers
33k 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 ...
23
votes
6answers
928 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 ...
20
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 ...
34
votes
6answers
1k views

Can stairs have a user experience?

Is there any UX consideration that goes into the design/construction of stairs? I know there are various local building codes and the ADA which regulate these things to some degree but stairs at ...
1
vote
1answer
115 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
881 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
4answers
461 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 ...
36
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, ...
16
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
25
votes
8answers
4k views

Why do people mount TVs so high on the wall in their homes?

When I was a kid, movie theatres tended to have the screens fairly high and the seats were all at or near ground level (very gentle slope), meaning we all looked up at the screen. Over time people ...