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403

(Older) pocket calculators sometimes have several “cancel” buttons (C, CE, etc.) Typically, the CE button would only clear the last entry but not interrupt the current computation. For example, if you press 10 + 1 CE, you would see a 0, but the calculator still expects a second operand for the addition (i.e. it still has "10 +" in memory). Often, there would ...


307

You need the bean container or filling mechanism to communicate in its physical presence alone, that it will not hold water. Additionally, emphazising what is expected, coffee beans, in form of an icon might help. This is just a crude sketch to visually show what I mean by "physically" communicating that the water does not go in here. Devise the coffee bean ...


277

Other answerers have provided great logical reasons for how these habits could come about, but I think it is simpler than that (plus, how often are any of us logical?). Calculators obviously have a state, since they do multi-step operations, but they don't clearly show their state. In many calculators, if you see a zero on the screen, you have no idea if ...


176

Besides the arguments others have listed (Aircraft requirements, power saving) we should not forget about security. Before the tablet and smartphone era you had a great control over your computer in an emergency: if you pulled the UTP cable, you could guarantee that the computer is isolated from the network. If you pulled the power cord, you could guarantee ...


156

In a washing machine the objects that are being washed move around. It's a dynamic process, that is unpredictable and always unique. Watching the movement is fun, it indeed gives a sense of control to the user, even if it is not actually required. Quite a few people even find it relaxing to watch the washing machine. The window also prevents users from ...


147

Security A hardware radio switch has security benefits to it in that when it is off, you know for a fact that nothing is connected to your laptop wirelessly. The radio switch usually turns off all wireless communication, including Bluetooth and 3G. I have heard that this is a requirement in certain military environments, but I have not seen any evidence ...


141

I believe the answer is actually because of building codes. If a room has only one entrance, it MUST open inwards. This is because if anything on the outside is blocking the door, it can still be opened, and then the person can clear the obstruction manually Trying to push the door forward might not be enough to clear the obstruction depending on a number ...


111

I'm guessing they viewed the button on the right hand side as the primary action button as it's closer to the users thumb, with the button on the left for secondary/less-used action, as it's slightly further away from the thumb (more of a physical exertion on the user). They then may have wanted to label them accordingly - so A for primary button, B for ...


99

I think icons are the best possible way to convey the information about different flushing amounts. I see too much uncertainty by relying only on button relative sizes and ease of use. It can be a simple pictogram showing the tank in the relative size of water what will be flushed upon pressing that button. Or any other icons that conver relative size ...


97

As you observe, connecting the machine to a water pipe removes the need to add water, but the need to add coffee leaves the user with one place to put water. So what we're looking for is a way to remove the need to add coffee; the user will then have nowhere to put the water. The solution: Mains piped coffee beans.


90

In the event of a stopped dishwasher (due to electrical fault or buggy software or something) the water in the device streams out of ordinary drains inside, and the water sprayers stop adding more water. If you were to open it after it had shorted out, you aren't going to get soaked. That's not true of a front-load washing machine. If one of these is ...


84

Historically It is a simple fact that traffic signals were introduced in 1868. From The Origin of the Green, Yellow and Red Color Scheme for Traffic Lights: In London, England in 1865 there was a growing concern over the amount of horse-drawn traffic causing danger to pedestrians trying to cross the roads. A railway manager and engineer named John Peake ...


77

The important thing is not so much which direction is right, but that you make it visually clear which direction is 'on'. This can be done by lighting up an LED, by an icon on the display, changing colors, etc. It just needs to be very clear what state the machine is and that this button will toggle the state. This is how single direction switches (buttons) ...


75

Excellent answers so far. I would attempt to connect the dots between recording and red button like this: Apart from the traditional warning usage, a red light has been used in many scenarios to represent on-going work - radio show room when on air, operation theater when operation is going on, etc. The reason behind that would be the same - it is highly ...


73

The reason for the design was because of the technology at the time. Rotary Dial (Pulse dialing) To dial a number, the user puts a finger in the corresponding finger hole and rotates the dial clockwise until it reaches the finger stop. The user then pulls out the finger, and a spring in the dial returns it to the resting position. For example, if ...


68

On some old calculators, the clear button had double duty: push once for clear-entry push twice for clear-all I think this meant that people tended to press clear a few times, to ensure that everything was cleared. It is possible that three clicks would clear the memory as well. This is one of those habits that people acquired early on in the use of ...


66

I found an article that explains this. Apparently, in Argentina, ATMs give cash before the card, resulting in a large amount of people leaving their cards behind. See http://uxmovement.com/thinking/preventing-user-errors-in-automated-teller-machines/ - unfortunately there are no references cited so I'm unsure how true this is. To me, however, it would make ...


61

It appears to be dependent on country or region, as Wikpedia states in the article Light Switch: Up or down The direction which represents "on" also varies by country. In the USA and Canada and Mexico and the rest of North America, it is usual for the "on" position of a toggle switch to be "up", whereas in many other countries such as the UK, ...


61

OK, how about this? Should be understandable by everyone, irrespective of culture.


57

Just looked up the answer, and quite a few places seem to have the same thought. In front load washing machines, the window is given to see what is going on inside. In the top loader machine, you can open it at any time even when the machine is on wash mode but you cannot do so in front load machine, for the water will spill if you open the window ...


53

Of things you might touch, you should possibly be least worried about the exit door handle (see, Enteric Bacterial Contamination of Public Restrooms, Dr. Germ: Charles P. Gerba, etc.). But, as you say, touch-free flush, sink, and soap are often available, and urine is sterile (potentially no need to wash up anyway), leaving floor, air, and door. Perhaps ...


53

Various hotels I have come across (though I remember that primarily from China) had simple lamps with the respective do not disturb and please clean room signs next to the door and accordingly labeled switches on the inside of the room to activate either of the exterior lights. It cannot be used by anyone other than the guest. It costs somewhat more than a ...


52

Airplanes These switches allow you to disable wireless transmitters without first turning them on in the middle of a flight, when their use may be prohibited. There seems to be some consternation regarding this answer. I have reworded it to address some of the concerns that have been voiced. In addition... I'm not saying that any rules regarding the ...


51

There's this humongous article called Keyboard Trivia that has collected many of the theories and stories. The summary of facts: Touch-tone key pad was designed to mimic the rotary dial with the "1" on top and the 7-8-9 on the bottom, and AT&T conducted user testing to confirm that this configuration helped eliminate dialing errors. By the time when ...


51

Because litres are a unit used everywhere across the world, a non-language dependent text solution is to label the amount of water used. Typically the symbol "L" is recognised as litres in almost any scenario. Here is an example: In addition, the two labels could be used as "wave to flush" sensors, if spaced far enough apart, preventing the spread of ...


50

I have seen indicators that are inserted into the key card slot so that keys can't be inserted until the indicator is removed. These solve the problem of being accidentally changed, since they are anchored to the door. Pros: The user is almost always required to be looking directly at the tag when inserting it into the door lock, so it is unlikely to be ...


49

Make the user open a drawer to place the beans inside. Once closed, the drawer simply opens into the bean container normally. Water almost never goes into a drawer.


48

By holding onto the card, the user is clearly informed that their transaction is not yet complete. If the card was given back before any transaction, the user may be uncertain as to whether they are still authenticated. Giving back a physical piece of identity makes it absolutely clear that you have 'logged out'. There is a perceived and an actual security ...


44

This is a similar question to the one about ATMs, and a similar approach could be adopted. Since modern machines can detect that there is an original on the glass (or in the ADF), it would suffice to prevent access to the copies until the original is removed. For that, the completed copies would have to remain inside the machine behind a door which is only ...


44

One reason for the three lights, in the UK at least, is that you have many states. Two of the lights can be on at one time, i.e. red and amber signalling that you should get ready to go, where as a single amber light would mean get ready to stop. The concept you link to doesn't cover this use case. There are also historic reasons for the 3 light traffic ...



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