Saturday, October 28, 2006

A petition to bring back buttons on phones?

The need for haptic feedback in button pushing ...

"Sometime about 2-3 years ago, the saturated consumer electronics industry, hungry for new but matured technology, has been exploring what we designers call “static” buttons. These “static” buttons are essentially non-mechanical (ie non-moving) and use electronic circuitry as a means to detect triggering contact.

Function or yet another fad?

I must admit when I first learnt about it, I was a big fan and jump on the band wagon in a big way. A design that I submitted to the 2006 Red-Dot Concept award had also used “static” buttons. At that time, I sat back and laughed at my cleverness…

However these days I’m not so sure, especially going through hindsight 30/30. I am starting to feel such non-mechanical buttons actually reduce the user experience rather than enhance it. Often because these static buttons are not used in a correct context and it lacks the most important thing a tactile and haptic feedback.

Before we go on lets take a quick look at the way these technology work. Currently from what I know there are 3 technologies that drive non-mechanical buttons they are Electrostatic, Pressure sensitive and Touch Screen buttons.

Electrostatic buttons are similar to the ones found in lifts. The way it works is the human finger closes the circuit thus triggering the button. Thus if you wear gloves it wont work. On of the big problems is when you have housings place in front of the buttons. If the housing is “charge” in any way it will trigger it.

Pressure sensitive buttons and dials operate like the iPod jog dial or the B&O BeoCenter 2. The circuitry senses very slight pressure on a sensitive plate and thus triggers the button. This would also mean putting it in your pocket could trigger it. This is a much more reliable technology but slightly more expensive than electrostatic buttons."    (Continued via Design Sojourn)    [Usability Resources]

BenQ Black Box - Usability, User Interface Design

BenQ Black Box

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