Danger at the Dining Hall!

I eat at a dining hall about twice per week, and getting tea is nerve-wracking. The hot water nozzle is above my head and when using an opaque coffee cup or mug, you cannot see the level of the water.  I’m constantly checking to see how full it is so boiling water doesn’t overflow onto my hand.


I’ve examined the machine and it looks as though it is designed to have this water dispenser on top, just as shown. I can’t understand why this would be…  I’m willing to bet the only reason no one has been injured is:

1. Hardly anyone drinks tea in the dining hall.

2. It’s so obviously unsafe and difficult to use that everyone checks every couple of seconds to see how full their cup is.

Thanks to Dana Kotter-Gruhn for posing for this illustration.

Human Factors Potpourri (again)

Here are some more human factors-related items that have crossed my blog reader:

  • Twitter is hot!  Oprah recently twittered on her show and apparently fell victim to a usability problem:  the update button was non-obvious so she never posted her tweet (Touch usability)
  • Fellow HFE blog Real World Usability will be posting updates of the Ergonomics Society Conference via Twitter
  • A night at the hospital from the patient’s point of view.  Grad student Kathleen Von Eron-Sherman documents her experiences in the hospital through human factors-colored glasses (unfortunately this article is behind a pay wall or you can visit your local library).
  • The newly introduced Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 mandates that hybrid vehicles (which are whisper quiet) include noise to make them more apparent to pedestrians (AutoBlog)

HF/Design/Usability Potpourri from around the Web

Here are some links to interesting things from the past few weeks.

Human Factors & Medical Device Workshop

2054205021_87160f2c90_mJohn Gosbee sends along this announcement of an upcoming workshop on medical human factors:

Those readers who want to know more about the practical and regulatory aspects of  human factors and device design might be interested in our workshop (or the approach we use). Our writings and this workshop continue a decades long effort to bring the HF and healthcare worlds together (in industry and academia).

More information about his workshop can be found at Red Forest Consulting.

Update: The link above has been corrected—Thanks Eric.

Dashboards meet the 21st century

Reader Darin Ellis sends along this news item from MSNBC about the future of car dashboards (hint: analog is out, glass screens are in).  There is a great quote in the article from the visualization designer of Chrysler:

A lot of usability studies need to be done. Designing these is not a no-brainer.

In addition to this article, here are some other related items that have cross my blog reader.  The embedded video is from a CrunchGear review of the new Ford Fusion (referenced in the MSNBC article).  Check out the dual LCD displays surrounding the center analog speedometer.

The final item is the interior of the new electric sports car Tesla Model S.  The center stack is replaced with a 17 inch touch screen.

911! I’m Locked In My Car…Oh, Pull Lock? Thanks

19064136_200x150There must be a human factors angle here somewhere in this story.  Perhaps the consequences of automation leading to out of the loop syndrome?  Click through to the story to hear the 911 call.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – A woman locked in her car in Kissimmee called 911 on Tuesday.

“It’s getting very hot in here, and I’m not feeling well,” the caller told the dispatcher.

The woman said nothing electrical was working, so her locks wouldn’t open.
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The dispatcher calmly told her to pull the lock up with her hand.

“Um, I’m sorry,” said the woman, who was not identified, after the lock opened.

And, no, officials say, this was not an early April Fool’s Day joke.