Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Activity Centered remote -Harmony gets another chance

Some problems with the current technology for activity centered remote controls...

"My first Harmony experience was not all that great. Mainly because there is no technology that exists yet that will communicate the state of the devices back to the remote. So while the number one praise of the remote (from techies/home theater gurus) is that the significant other/babysitter can just pick it up and press a button- no more explanation is needed, I found out pretty quickly that that just wasn't true.

You needed other explanations that I think were a little more confusing than before, because they have to do with our habits. Now you have to stay within the confines of the state that the remote expects your system to be in. We still have to be aware of the state of the system, because the system doesn't understand our quirks and habits. For example- when watching a DVD, I configured my remote to turn on the DVD player, switch the TV to video, and the receiver to DVD. Pretty simple, except that most of the time I've already turned the DVD player on to put the movie in. So, I tailor that activity to leave the DVD player alone only to find a case where I'd like it to power on. Of course, you can tweak the remote and control individual components, but when you take yourself out of the one button mindset, it's very noticible and more cumbersome.

The point here is that *I* understand what's going on fine and can manage, but when the novice comes along and you bill this as "just press the button" and it doesn't work? Well, there's a tremendous amount of distrust in the system from then on. Especially since you're not likely to have a "fall back" set of instructions. More importantly, you trade a "just press this button than this button...." for "DON'T turn the DVD player on before you press anything, the system will take care of that for you..." or something like that which will probably go against some habit the user already has for "settling down" to watch/listen to something."   continued ...   (Via User Centered)

Some problems with activity centered remotes - User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ergonomics

Some problems with activity centered remotes


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really simple solution to your on/off issue. It's caused by Harmony defaulting to using the toggle version of the on/off command for most devices instead of the deticated on and deticated off commands. If you look in the customization system on their site for your remote, almost every recent device also has the ON and OFF separate functions listed. If you tell it to use those and your receiver/TV has deticated buttons for the various inputs, you don't need to have the remote know the state of the devices. If something doesn't come on right, just hit the button again and it will work out right.

All Sony stuff works out of the box correctly this way. By DISH receiver had to be set to use the ON/OFF Separate buttons and then it's great. Even have two harmony remotes in one room and they get along with eachother just fine as a result.

As for your other issue, it isn't that big of a deal to hit the devices button and choose the device you want to muck with and then hit activities again to get back to the main screen. No more so than say Sony's latest remotes for their DVD players that put most of the buttons under a sliding cover for some stupid reason!

10:06 AM  

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