Active/inactive state of physical buttons

17 Nov 2009 - 5:55pm
4 years ago
4 replies
1018 reads
Daniel Zollman
2009

Hi all,

I'm wondering if anyone knows of a precedent for a certain pattern
in a physical interface, such as a control panel or remote control.

The challenge is that a particular control panel design has multiple
states; in a given state, some functions are available while other
functions are unavailable. I'm considering a pattern in which each
button lights up when it's active/available and gets dark when it's
inactive/unavailable.

There are certainly many devices with buttons that light up in order
to reflect the on/off state of a particular feature (e.g. caps lock
key), or of the device itself. However, I can't think of any
examples where lighted buttons reflect availability rather than
state.

Of course, there are pitfalls in designing this to communicate the
right things, but I'm hoping to find some reference points.

Thanks!
Dan

Comments

17 Nov 2009 - 7:06pm
Adam Korman
2004

I worked on a car stereo project 7 or 8 years ago where we used
exactly this concept (we called it "contextual luminescent feedback").
At the time we couldn't find examples that really did this in any sort
of sophisticated way either, but we ran with it anyway because we
thought it was compelling & appropriate for what we needed. For all
sorts of reasons it never was built, but as it played out in the
detailed design, it seemed pretty successful.

There are some simplistic examples (some vending machines indicate the
availability of an item by lighting up the button that you press to
get it), but I think that's probably not quite the same as what you're
describing.

On Nov 17, 2009, at 2:55 PM, Dan Zollman wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> I'm considering a pattern in which each
> button lights up when it's active/available and gets dark when it's
> inactive/unavailable.
>
> There are certainly many devices with buttons that light up in order
> to reflect the on/off state of a particular feature (e.g. caps lock
> key), or of the device itself. However, I can't think of any
> examples where lighted buttons reflect availability rather than
> state.

17 Nov 2009 - 10:43pm
DanP
2006

Hi Dan,

The Samsung Alias 2 cell phone uses e-ink technology to change the
function of buttons based on device orientation and programmatic need.
The same type of interface is used on the treadmills at my gym. They
utilize an e-ink display to make keys available based on function; for
instance blanking/darkening out those that are unused. The state of
the buttons can change based on availability, function, orientation
etc...

http://www.samsung.com/us/consumer/mobile/mobile-phones/verizon-wireless-phones/SCH-U750HAAVZW/index.idx?pagetype=prd_detail

Best,
-Dan

-----------------------------------------------
Dan Peknik - Interaction Design, Human Factors
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA.
-----------------------------------------------

On Nov 17, 2009, at 4:06 PM, Adam Korman wrote:

> I worked on a car stereo project 7 or 8 years ago where we used
> exactly this concept (we called it "contextual luminescent
> feedback"). At the time we couldn't find examples that really did
> this in any sort of sophisticated way either, but we ran with it
> anyway because we thought it was compelling & appropriate for what
> we needed. For all sorts of reasons it never was built, but as it
> played out in the detailed design, it seemed pretty successful.
>
> There are some simplistic examples (some vending machines indicate
> the availability of an item by lighting up the button that you press
> to get it), but I think that's probably not quite the same as what
> you're describing.
>
> On Nov 17, 2009, at 2:55 PM, Dan Zollman wrote:
>
>> Hi all,
>>
>> I'm considering a pattern in which each
>> button lights up when it's active/available and gets dark when it's
>> inactive/unavailable.
>>
>> There are certainly many devices with buttons that light up in order
>> to reflect the on/off state of a particular feature (e.g. caps lock
>> key), or of the device itself. However, I can't think of any
>> examples where lighted buttons reflect availability rather than
>> state.
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17 Nov 2009 - 11:05pm
Alan James Salmoni
2008

One example that jumps to mind are fruit machines (as known in the UK;
perhaps one-armed bandits elsewhere. I'm referring to the modern ones
rather than the older and simpler ones). They often have little
'diversions' (nudge buttons, or paths to jackpots) outside of the
normal path that are not always available. They indicate availability
by light, often flashing when trying to attract attention to
themselves (and give reward to the user) and work as an example of
availability indicated by light.

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18 Nov 2009 - 12:42pm
Erik Johnson
2009

@Dan - I have this same Samsung device and think the e-ink works beautifully. It's actually the reason I bought it ;-)

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