Questions tagged [physical]

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

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Spring force for physical push buttons

Are there any design guides or existing studies that provide recommendations for the spring force (e.g. initial force [lb, kg] and force increase [lb/in, kg/mm]) of a physical momentary push button ...
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1 vote
1 answer
52 views

Designing interface to accommodate physical devices with different number & layout of ports

The following device is a network switch. This particular model contains 24 ports, arranged into 2 rows with 12 ports on each. There exists hundreds of models of switches, each with different number &...
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  • 251
28 votes
9 answers
6k views

QR vs Barcode vs Custom Code

Scenario We must identify persons and also associate objects with them. This is for a very large cerebral palsy center for children that provides various services, some in different buildings (there ...
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  • 32.1k
15 votes
7 answers
4k views

Does an on/off switch still means on/off when positioned horizontally?

I'm working on a custom piece of hardware where a fan is turned on and off automatically. The user can override the decision of the automatic system through a switch. Activating the switch when the ...
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0 votes
1 answer
69 views

Why are stove controls like this?

Most UIs that show incremental controls provide consistent levels. For example, a volume control will incrementally change sound from inaudible to maximum levels of loudness with a consistent change ...
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  • 8,027
93 votes
26 answers
19k views

How to avoid the "local elevator" problem?

I live in a high-rise apartment building in New York. Our building has four resident elevators which each serve every residential floor. (An additional fifth elevator (physically separated from the ...
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  • 1,061
3 votes
1 answer
61 views

Most visible wavelength/ color for mesopic vision

Is there an established study that demonstrates which is the most visible wavelength range under Mesopic Vision conditions? Ideally, they shouldn't refer to Scotopic Vision (since I have enough data ...
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  • 32.1k
1 vote
4 answers
129 views

Modifying a rotary ceiling fan dial so it can be operated by touch

My ceiling fans are controlled by wall dials. The dial has 5 positions - off,1,2,3,4 - and spins between them without stopping (meaning you can turn from off to both 1 and 4 directly, the rotation is ...
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  • 737
6 votes
1 answer
132 views

Why get rid of transponder-read status lights at tolls?

When driving through a toll both with a transponder, it is common to have some form of display feedback to the driver. For example, the US state of Maryland has an explanation here showing the three ...
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  • 437
1 vote
3 answers
135 views

Why use a discrete representation for continuous quantities?

Is there any reason to use a discrete representation (like number of stars) for continuous quantities (like a progress bar)? This is assuming we don't want to show an exact number. (Yes I understand ...
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  • 111
7 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why do American windows open upwards?

I've seen a lot of windows in the US that open by sliding upwards. I'm from Europe where all windows open sideways by pivoting on hinges. I was wondering why the reasons are and why they are so ...
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  • 173
2 votes
1 answer
116 views

Physical device and app user testing

I'm looking for any resources that you might know of that deals with user testing a physical device, in this case, a toy, that works with an app. I've searched a few times and haven't found any ...
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2 votes
1 answer
329 views

Why is there a small gap between the usb port and laptop skin? [closed]

I've noticed a small gap between the point the USB port starts (metal part) and the external surface of the laptop or PC. You can clearly see it in the picture. . Thanks
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  • 21
12 votes
4 answers
700 views

Metro station stop design to prevent people from commiting suicide

How to design a metro train stop that would prevent people from endangering themselves by accessing the rails when a metro arrives (perhaps by implementing the design of special doors or elevators ...
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263 votes
14 answers
55k views

What's wrong with USB sticks that you need 3 tries to plug them in correctly?

You've all probably experienced this at least once: trying multiple times to plug in a USB stick correctly, because somehow it isn't intuitive what side goes up. This is especially the case when the ...
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6 votes
3 answers
58k views

does a pushed button with I and O on it mean it is on or off

I am trying to charge a childs electric car. It says to make sure it is in the off position while charging. However, it is a button that goes in or out. How do I know whether pushing the button in ...
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6 votes
1 answer
235 views

Are shoelaces replaceable by more usable alternatives? If so why are they still so common?

Compared to alternatives like velcro (which have been around for quite some time) or mechanisms that allow you to tighten shoes with a twisting mechanism (as seen on some of the football boots), ...
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5 votes
2 answers
572 views

Why are tactile ground surface indicators potential slip hazards?

For those who are not familiar with the technical sounding term for something that you see in normal everyday life in the city, tactile pavings, also known as tactile ground surface indicators (TGSI) ...
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3 votes
1 answer
65 views

Design systems that cover both physical and digital use cases

When companies created design systems, it is typically applied to their products and services rather than something that can be used throughout the entire organisations. Atlassian's update of their ...
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  • 25.3k
8 votes
2 answers
427 views

Direct users to use a physical button

I'm designing a touch screen user interface to control a physical robot. The interface also includes physical buttons, similar to how a cell phone has touch screen elements and physical home buttons, ...
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  • 81
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why is the button to open a microwave door always hard to push? [closed]

Every microwave I've encountered always has the same feature - an unusually resistant "open microwave door" button. Why is the button to open a microwave door always more resistant than buttons on ...
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2 votes
1 answer
171 views

Alternative to "click cycle" without cumbersome UI?

The A/V receiver in my living room has a "click cycle" functionality. There's a button labeled "Mode." It changes the mode every time you press it. If you accidentally miss the desired option, you ...
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  • 781
3 votes
0 answers
78 views

Why are European recycling codes so complicated? [closed]

Each time I recycle my garbage, I must wonder why are these European recycling symbols so complicated. For example this one: This symbol is really cryptic for me as a user. PP could stand for both "...
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  • 131
11 votes
3 answers
730 views

Why do 4-wheel suitcases usually have their wheels on the short side, rather than the long side?

In a 4-wheeled suitcase, there are three possible ends to put the wheels. Most commonly, the wheels are at the short end: Public domain image I find it hard to keep them on 4 wheels; one has to ...
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  • 2,546
2 votes
2 answers
462 views

Car safety assist dropping speed automatically

Would this be considered good UX if the car in safety assist mode would drop the speed automatically to adjust with the car in front instead of informing the driver of getting too close? This is ...
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36 votes
11 answers
12k views

Door handle on automatic doors - why?

I was traveling by train, and I came across the board toilet in the picture below: Unlike other board toilets I encountered so far, this one had an automatic door. At least this is what I suspected ...
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  • 1,587
1 vote
2 answers
88 views

Visibility of touch buttons?

At my workplace, I have a monitor of reputed company with touch buttons with back-light which aren't visible unless the monitor is switched on. This includes the power button. Occasionally, I spend ...
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1 vote
3 answers
509 views

The return of skeuomorphism and the importance of physical design in UX [closed]

I read all articles that talk about trends with interest, as my personal philosophy with UX design is not to go with the latest trends but pick the solution that best solves the problem. So it was ...
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  • 25.3k
2 votes
2 answers
310 views

Why many car manufacturers still use gearstick / gearshift for automatic transmissions? [closed]

Why gear selectors for automatic transmission are still made in form of the gear stick for manual transmissions? Isn't this useless waste of space? There are at least two other possibilities (both ...
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  • 159
10 votes
1 answer
288 views

Why do mobile phones require to "send" a dialed number?

In phone devices with rotary or touch tone dials you can just dial the number and the call will be made. It may happen that the call won't be made, or the user will dial a wrong number. However, the ...
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  • 32.1k
12 votes
5 answers
2k views

Why are car keys and house keys different?

When inserting a car key into the ignition, I am able to do so quickly and easily, without having to carefully line up the key with the keyhole. I can do this despite the fact that the keyhole is ...
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1 vote
1 answer
3k views

On water fountains, why the blue tap is supposed to be colder than the white one?

Water fountains often propose two taps, one with cold water and one with water at ambient temperature. In my experience the cold one is labeled with a blue color while the ambient one with white color....
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3 votes
1 answer
353 views

Why aren't all headphone connectors on the left?

Most every pair of wired headphones has the cable attached to the left earcup, probably for reasons similar to why most of the microphones are placed on the left. One would expect then that devices ...
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10 votes
4 answers
2k views

'turn over' on a leaflet

Not too sure if this question should be here or not, but regardless. Should a leaflet have 'turn over' written at the bottom centre to let the viewer know there is another side, or will they ...
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1 vote
1 answer
142 views

How do people with vision impairment access buildings requiring a swipe card?

With many of the commercial and corporate buildings now having more strict control around entries and exits, I was wondering in terms of accessibility how people with vision impairment are provided ...
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  • 25.3k
-1 votes
1 answer
60 views

In hotel lifts requiring swipe card access, is it normal to swipe or press the floor button first?

Having been overseas to a number of different countries recently, I noticed that there doesn't seem to be any convention when it comes to the way people are meant to use the hotel lifts. Some guests ...
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  • 25.3k
1 vote
2 answers
750 views

Why don't traffic lights include the time until the light goes red or goes green?

Whenever I am driving I try to speed through the light when it is yellow and it is always stressful trying to get through before it becomes red. Street crossing lights have a countdown number that ...
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  • 225
2 votes
2 answers
559 views

How am I expected to carry a key fob equivalent of a smart card attached to my key ring?

A number of wireless smart card issuers is promoting so-called payments tags or key fobs - that's a small wireless device which can be used in place of a wireless payment card or wireless transport ...
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  • 5,837
2 votes
2 answers
175 views

What research exists into user experience design factors for the design of ovens and cooktops?

TL;DR I am after UX research into the design of ovens and/or cooktops, or research that can be applied to their design. Any references would be most appreciated, especially if they cover the ...
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  • 3,796
1 vote
1 answer
404 views

Is there evidence that shows stairs with open risers are less safe than those with risers

I know code allows open risers but I am trying to find more definitive information on safe design. As usual, opinion and anecdote is easy to find but I haven't seen a more academic/scientific look at, ...
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  • 11
3 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why do we have both backspace and delete keys on most keyboards?

I wonder why both backspace and delete keys exist on so many keyboards. For example, the commonly used 104-key PC US English QWERTY keyboard: Personally I prefer backspace, and would only use delete ...
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  • 171
3 votes
1 answer
12k views

Why is the accelerator pedal in cars are at the right side ?

The accelerator pedal is located on the right side. Usually, this pedal in more elegant and softer as well. But this is not the question. The question is why it is located on the right side, not the ...
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  • 1,914
2 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why do train departure boards use orange text on black background?

At train stations in the UK (and I also noticed in Italy) - the departure/arrival boards use orange text on a black background. However, at airports there appear to be a much wider variety of colour ...
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  • 6,506
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why "heat & cool" buttons on air conditioner remote controls?

On most air conditioner remote controls, you can find buttons such as Heat / Cool. Users must switch to the cooling mode in summer, and to the heating mode in winter. Curiously, Heat 25°C(or 77°F) is ...
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  • 171
57 votes
19 answers
28k views

What is the benefit of 2 drive thru lanes at a fast food restaurant?

The following photo shows the drive thru lane at a fast food restaurant. The lane splits in two to allow 2 drivers to place their order at the same time. The following photo shows an overhead view ...
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1 vote
1 answer
72 views

Numbering teams in a physical competition: is there a point? [closed]

Context One of my "night jobs" is acting as an organizer of the Canadian Robotics Competition for high school students. In short, students build a robot to play a game against other robots, as many ...
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  • 5,965
85 votes
20 answers
25k views

I'm designing a no-data USB cable : How should the end be marked?

I'm specifying a dedicated USB cable for a product, but it won't be a full cable, it will be missing the center conductors. In other words, it is functionally equivalent to a "charge only" USB cable. ...
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  • 926
1 vote
3 answers
231 views

Why is the telescoping toilet paper roller preferred over a simpler solution?

I have almost always seen toilet paper rolls presented on a telescoping plastic piece when available for use. A few times I have seen them presented on a much simpler solution: a simple rod with an ...
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  • 113
1 vote
1 answer
117 views

Car Park Ticket Machine Letter and Number Organisation

Some car parks in the UK have ticket machines which ask for the car's registration plate so that the ticket is bought for a specific vehicle (this stops people giving half used tickets to other ...
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  • 11.1k
2 votes
4 answers
4k views

Why don't elevators automatically go to the ground floor after being idle for some time?

I work in a regular 10-story office building with 4 elevators. Every morning I notice a situation where all 4 elevators happily sit on one of the topmost floors until someone pushes the button from ...
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