Month: October 2013

Challenge 16 0f 52: TV Input UI

Taking early paternal leave made me sort of a TV junkie. As I also cleared my schedule from meetings and projects, suddenly I find myself spending much more time in front of TV. Naturally, I spotted a few things to improve about the device UI.

With so many set-top boxes connected to the TV, figuring out the connection can be a daunting task. Physically, there’s so many ports and there’s no clear label. Many are only labelled with embossed plastic text which is hard to read since it’s the same color as the device. The solution should be bright color-coded label to mark all the various ports

Once connected to the TV, the UI is not helpful either. The on-screen label simply says HDMI 1, HDMI 2, and so on. It’s certainly not very helpful for most user. The UI should be more proactive by asking the user what is the connected to each port when a new connection is made. Certainly it’s not that hard to provide soft label for DVD, Blu-Ray, Cable, Laptop, Game and so on.

Even better, the TV can have a connection map screen in the menu. It will display all the devices that is currently connected to the TV according to the physical location of the ports.

Challege 15 of 52: Electrical Appliance Remote Control

For an interface that we use every day, electrical appliance remote control is an annoying lot. There’s too many button, uncomfortable shape and ambigous label. But then, the most annoying part is the connection between the remote and the appliance itself.

Infrared remote control is a technology is a technology that is older than myself – antic in term of gadget age. The biggest drawback of this connection is that it requires clear line of sight. These days, with cramped living room and odd corners it’s quite a hard reach.

There’s not much problem for TV, but set top boxes are routinely obscured by other furnitures or other trinkets that line the cupboard. It’s even worse for air-conditioner unit which usually end up in a corner that don’t have clear line of sight from the bed or couch.

So, what’s the solution? Bluetooth seems like a good candidate. Phones have generally replaced IR with Bluetooth for the past few years. It’s a shame that remote controls didn’t follow suit. However, pairing procedure can be rather frustrating and the phelotra of bluetooth services in the protocol make it harder still.

Combining Bluetooth with NFC can be a star combination. Just tap the remote with the device and it will seamlessly pair the two. It will be handy when you need to borrow the remote and use it with another device. After all, remote controls do have a bad habit of hiding themselves.

Mid-Life is Sooner Than You Think


Think that life begins at 40?

Yesterday night, an old acquaintance of mine appeared on TV. He said that 37 years old is already quite old. How that so?

The average life expectancy for women in Malaysia is 76 and 72 for men. So, the average is 74.

Thus, by 37 you already burned through half of your life. That’s a whooping 13 year difference from the ‘traditional’ 50 years old milestone.

Suddenly, the milestone is much sooner.What will you do if you adopt this alternative milestone? Will your priority still be the same? How will you use your time?

Mid-Life is Sooner Than You Think

Challenge 14 of 52: Laptop Sleeve

Let’s start with a basic laptop sleeve. I reckon many people are already familiar with this. Some have zippers, flaps or buttons to secure the content. However, that’s not my concern today. I’m fairly dissatisfied with the current design since it doesn’t factor in the usual usage.

Laptops rarely works alone, at least it must have power adaptor to achieve a meaningful working time. External hard disks, mobile hotspots are also the usual suspects. However, laptop sleeves usually didn’t have any decent place for them. Some user just jam those stuffs into the sleeve anyway and create an unisghtly bulge. Not to mention the risk of scratching the precious stuffs inside.

My proposed solution is simple, just have one strap on the sleeve. This will allow accessory pouches to be attached securely. Perhaps some user will crowd the strap and make it look like Batman’s utility belt but I just want one pouch to put my power adapter.

Challenge 13 of 52: Chatime Menu

Sometimes, UX problem crops up due to the pace of innovation. This grotesque menu is the victim of Chatime’s success in creating so many variation of beverages. The dense menu is frankly intimidating to new customers and made old customers stick to whatever drink they tasted before. That’s a waste since it will discourage new customers and make it difficult to increase revenue per customer.
Personally, I hesitated several time before buying anything from Chatime until I’m guided by a friend who patronized Chatime in Australia before. Even that he sticks from whatever he bought before and I only picked among the featured drinks. I consider myself fairly adventurous when it come to food and drinks so Chatime barrier seems disporpotionately high.
There’s some visual hierarchy in this menu. The top bar features flagship drinks and this is a saving feature. Customers usually just order from the featured line. But then, more adventurous customers and those who don’t like any of the feature drinks will have a hard time navigating the ala-carte menu.
A clear visual hierachy is missing here, choice of drinks and their personalization options sits on the same level and only separated by different color blocks. This is a stark contrast to Subway’s logical layout that guides customers step-by-step; from bread, filling, cheese, condiments, sauces and sides.
Thus, a better menu design should guide the customers step-by-step. From the base drink, to sugar and ice options. Finally, the upsell to toppings. This should make it easier for new and old customers alike.