“Would you like a pocket-size device that reminded you of each appointment and daily event? I would. I am waiting for the day when portable computers become small enough that I can keep one with me at all times. I will definitely put all my reminding burdens upon it. It has to be small. It has to be convenient to use. And it has to be relatively powerful, at least by today’s standards. It has to have a full, standard typewriter keyboard and a reasonably large display. It needs good graphics, because that makes a tremendous difference in usability, and a lot of memory – a huge amount, actually. And it should be easy to hook up to the telephone; I need to connect it to my home and laboratory computers. Of course, it should be relatively inexpensive.”
When Norman wrote this, the “first PDA” had been on the market 4 years. Though armed with a full (though alphabetic) keyboard, it hardly fulfilled Norman’s ideals.
Today, of course, even the technologicaly challenged own one of these, only differing in that it IS a phone rather than having to hook it to one:
One thing I find interesting: the device above fits Norman’s functional desires to a T. However, if there is anything that still needs usability improved… it is the cell phone.
And if there is anything that needs it more than a cell phone, it’s anything combined with a cell phone.
I was browsing the nutrition information for Moe’s the other day and was struck by the uniqueness of their interface. It let’s you specify exactly what you order, exactly how you order, at their restaurant. Give it a try (click on “Nutrition” in the menu at bottom.) This is obviously an interface for those who need to know just how many calories are in those jalapeno bits.
As an informal comparison, check out these interfaces from Taco Bell,McDonald’s, and Burger King. They all make assumptions, perhaps correct, about their users. For example, it was pointed out to me that taco bell makes sure it’s easy for you to have more than one of the same item (since that’s how people order… two soft tacos, please).
McDonald’s seems to think that importing the same table they provide in-restaurant is the way to go.
Burger King pretends to be novel, with the “big book of nutrition”, but exploration of any item eventually turns up a table.
It does seem to be the most parental of the sites, offering as many tips on how to eat as telling you what they serve.
These interfaces are so rich with both good and bad human factors, I can’t possibly cover it in one post. Let us know your favorites!
In short, I worry that the news presented to the public paints a too-rosy picture of these aircraft, implying that we will eventually have robots fighting robots from the comfort of our own homes.
I’d like to hear from people what they consider to be the most interesting human factors challenge of unmanned vehicles. I don’t know much about the design of their interfaces and whether they are more similar to a cockpit or a game console, but I’m interested to learn. Feel free to comment!