I am a user experience researcher working primary on websites. I am considering shifting to the hardware domain and I am wondering what kind of general reference resources are out there about hardware usability. By hardware I mean any physical products like computer, handheld devices, webcam, mouse, keyboard, etc.
Hardware usability is covered well by the domain of human factors engineering (a.k.a., engineering psychology, ergonomics). A textbook in that area is a great way to get background (e.g., Christopher Wicken’s Engineering Psychology and Human Performance). There’s probably a book on human factors specifically emphasizing consumer electronics. Lord knows they need it.
There also various US government standards and guidelines that emphasize usable hardware, such as:
MIL-STD 1472 DOD Design Criteria Standard: Human Engineering
MIL-HDBK 759 DOD Handbook for Human Engineering Design Guidelines
DOT/FAA/CT-96/1 FAA Human Factors Design Guide
These were written for high-risk applications, but they apply just as well to consumer electronics.