Human-Computer Interaction: Ergonomics and User Interfaces - Vol. 1

By Hans-Jörg Bullinger; Jürgen Ziegler | Go to book overview

Interface Issues in Everyday Products

Hartmut Ginnow-Merkert
School of Art and Design Berlin-Weissensee


1 Introduction

Contemporary household and consumer appliances, medical equipment or transportation products all have one feature in common: Their behavior is no longer cast in hardware but programmed into software. In this respect, nearly every electrically powered product may be considered an autonomous specialpurpose computer with its own particular integrated cast of input and output devices.

With today's technological potential to program nearly any behavior into a product's circuitry, design has been liberated from the mechanical and material demands by which it had been ruled since the industrial revolution.

Along with this new freedom emerged a need for designers to equip their products with meaningful behaviors comprehensible to their human masters who find themselves still firmly held in their own sets of evolutionary conduct.

In today's complex universe of products, conventional industrial design -- as it focuses merely on a product's visual appearance no longer suffices to provide the information and guidance necessary for a product's joyous and harmonious interaction with its human counterpart. Anger, frustration and consumer abstinence are among the undesirable consequences of the designer's negligence.

Industrial design will need to operate from an interface design perspective, addressing a wealth of previously unexplored issues related to a product's interaction with humans.

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