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Reach out and Don’t Touch Me- User Interface Expectations

Reach out and Don’t Touch Me- User Interface Expectations

It’s pretty common knowledge that kids are better with technology than adults.  They seem to intuitively adapt faster than adults do. Kids have no fear of technology failure, they’ve never been blamed for pulling the cable box remote cord to far from the TV or told “Don’t touch the VCR”, the electronic devices they are learning as youngsters are far more intuitive than what any generation has had before. Recent experiences have led me to believe that we all are beginning to expect that technology be more intuitive. For instance, we seem to expect that touch-enabled computer screens are the norm.

For instance, recently, I attended a church leadership meeting in a room with a new 50” monitor on the wall that was a display device for my laptop located on a table about 10 feet away.  Near the beginning of the meeting a young man from the youth group walked up to the monitor to give a presentation that was loaded on my laptop. Instinctively, he began to touch the screen to navigate a website.  Upon his initial touch he paused and scanned the room as if something was wrong, then touched the screen again. Sensing his issue I began to navigate the website on my laptop using his touches on the screen to guide my mouse clicks. I think he actually walked away believing the monitor was a touch screen. Afterward I leaned over to the person who had just installed this new monitor, (which replaced a 20 year old Sony TV), and said, “It looks like we should have purchased a touch screen monitor.”

I’ve also noticed in the checkout line at multiple stores that they often have messages hand written on register paper or printed on a label maker and taped to the credit card terminal stating “This is not a touch screen.”  Obviously, many people, young and old, are making the same mistake that the young man in our youth group made.

My 11 year old son prefers to play games on his iPod rather than on the Wii or computer. “Mine Craft” on the computer has more features than on the iPod. “Mario Kart” on the Wii is faster than on the iPod. Still, his preference for both games is on the small hand held touch screen of his iPod. But the touch screen feature seems to offer him a more personal experience, and so, is the deciding factor of which device to use.

I know that we are all changing…young and old. Over the last several years I have spent many hours watching how guests interact with media elements that IDEAS has created for Siemens VIP Center at EPCOT.  Recently we replaced a large standard monitor with a touch screen because it was obvious from how guests tried to interact with it that they simply expected this dual purpose screen to be touchable. When adding the touch component we were also able to add many additional content sections which allow guests to customize their own user experience.  But the next great thing in the Siemens space is actually touchless! The large interactive wall seen here has an infrared camera at the top. When you see a graphic or video element floating on screen you simply reach your hand out and into the view of the camera and it opens the graphic like magic. This is a touchless, intuitive interface that everyone seems to understand instantly.

The next intuitive interface will be driven by our eyes and facial expressions. That’s right. We’re already working toward that goal at IDEAS. In fact, if you’d like to schedule a demonstration of this newest technology, give us a call.

Charles Moore
Charles is a hands-on project manager that works collaboratively with his clients and project teams.