As a part of a class I did an exercise where I had to create design an elegant but ultimately unusable universal remote control. We let our imaginations fly sky high. In the end we came up with the following design.

Remote

Introduction:
Imagine you are sitting on your couch, relaxing watching TV and you have to get the microwave on to make popcorn. You are too lazy to get up. Well you have the Crystal to your rescue. And then when you want to fill the tub with water for a warm bath you can just sit there and still use the Crystal to do it. And may be then you need the dryer to dry your shirt, well its just a button away when you have the Crystal. Hmmm what else? You want to go outside? Use the crystal to control your garage door, your car door, just about anything.
We’ve eliminated clumsy confusing buttons such as Volume + / – Channel Up / Down with simple one touch controls. Want to change control to your Blu-Ray player? No confusing mode buttons to look for, simply touch the Crystal with the appropriate number of fingers that correspond to your Blu-Ray player and you instantly have access to all of its controls. Makes you feel like Adam Sandler from Click!!!
Hence we say, if you don’t have a Crystal, you just don’t have a Crystal!!!

Features

  • Touch screen- Capacitive touch, support gestures (Press hard to increase volume, Press lightly to decrease, swipe sideways with one finger to increase channel number, two fingers to go up by 10, three for 100, and so on.)
  • Transparent- efficient LED to give you a sci-fi experience, no ugly hard plastic or labels that rub off.
  • Accelerometer- used to lower and raise and increase and decrease things. Simple terms; it supports motion sensing.
  • Multi Touch – Number of fingers pressed on screen changes device mode (TV (1) to DVR (2), etc.)
  • Single Buttons for common commands – Volume, Power (Light press to increase or activate, hard press to decrease or deactivate)
  • Auto Screen Rotate – Landscape or Portrait! – Hold the device any way you want and the icons rotate automatically
  • Beauty – Clean, uncluttered appearance. Distracting and archaic digits are replaced with clean, elegant, roman numerals.

 

Violations:

VISIBILITY:
– No indications as to what the proper orientation is for the device to be held.
– Roman numerals are not well understood and are not natural representations.
– Touchscreen buttons are flashed underneath your finger, and cannot be seen.
– Transparent display makes it difficult to see each icon.

MAPPINGS:
-Accelerometer is confusing to use the user does not know whether to point and go up to raise curtains or go down.
-Mapping also comes into play when you choose your fingers to map controls onto devices.
– Press and Press Hard are not natural mapping for the functions of increase/decrease and activate/deactivate. When user is frustrated or startled for example, they are likely to press hard, which will increase volume when they may want to decrease it.

CONCEPTUAL MODEL:
– No hint as to how to hold the device in the proper orientation for the emitter to face the device.
– Until the user has memorized each number for each device, they will be challenged to remember that the Blu-Ray player is device VII.- In order to activate devices numbered higher than II, the device must be set down in order to place more fingers on the screen.

FEEDBACK:
-Well you don’t know which device has been selected since your fingers indicate the device number. Hence you have to remember which number refers to which device. A novice user would struggle here.-When you wanna increase the volume you first start by pressing gently and then press it hard, So the volume goes down first and you might be confused as to whether you are increasing or decreasing the volume.
– With the visual indication of volume increasing, you may think it is actually increasing, but if the device isn’t held in the proper orientation, it won’t accurately control your device because it isn’t receiving the signal.
SUMMARY:
After this exercise I realized that not everything we use makes sense. Most of us today are more brand driven rather than being usability driven. We need not go into the big gadgets but look at the small everyday usable items. Take clothes for instance, how many times have you Heard yourself say ‘I’ll buy this, it looks cool’. Is looking cool or fancy the new being usable? It is not a pleasant question to ask but might be true in the years to come if not already. Others might disagree, especially people who are creating innovative usable products daily. But once the brand reaches a certain pedestal, the product is always about being a status symbol and a cool looking one rather than a usable one.