An Emotional Design on a Kettle

Perhaps you have been bothered by high-frequency wave length generated by a kettle. This function is so important to let user know when the water is boiled, and yet it’s very noisy and annoying. This is a very creative solution for that issue.

Activity Zones for Touchscreen Tablets and Phones

One of my friend is testing out arch-shaped software keyboard design on iPhone now. I also tried it and found it was actually comfortable. Considering my general context, I’m typing with my thumb often because it is almost only way to type something on mobile with one hand. And I guess this easy-accessible zone applies especially when user types with his/her thumb.


Looking at some apps for both iPhone and iPad, I discovered some of the best of them have placed controls in ways that best match the ergonomics of our hands while holding them, particularly the saddle joint of the human thumb, with its ability to roll in a particular almost-45 degree sweep. In order to access other parts of the screen requires a reach with the index finger or an extension of the thumb to access it. Thus, it makes sense, when designing mobile touchscreen apps, to pay attention to these activity zones. Put the high-use controls in the Easy zones, and controls that are less used (and certainly those you don’t want accidentally pressed) in the Reach zone (via Kicker Studio: Kick It! A blog by Kicker Studio » Activity Zones for Touchscreen Tablets and Phones)

The Genius of Design episode 1

Awesome video about industrial design from BBC.

Vintage fitness machines: Ergonomics

Machines invented for one specific purpose often tend to be blind for another perspective, especially in usability/ergonomics. Even this modern age, some equipments/designs are not yet well considered its safety or ease of use. As an easy example, let’s think about these old-vintage fitness machines, and compare with modern fitness machines from ergonomics perspective.

Again, usability has 4 major elements to consider

  • Learnability - How easy the users can understand
  • Functionality - The product capability to fulfill the users’ needs.
  • Memorability - How easy the users can remember a procedure for a task
  • Ease of error recovery - How the users can fix their mistakes

1. Learnability

If you look at these pictures, how many pictures you can figure out their exact use confidently? I guess one or two, or none. For user’s safety and convenience, machines should tell their proper use by themselves. On the other hand, you can see some obvious risk for lower back pain or other pain pretty easily.

Unfortunately, most of devices in modern gym learnability are not improved so much since then. Please imagine, how many people actually understand modern fitness machines’ proper use without any instruction?


In this case, functionality for fitness machine is almost same meaning as adjustability and efficiency. In other words, can you adjust machine dimension so that you can use the device comfort and efficiently?

Apparently, most of machines cannot adjust their counter weight, length, height, and so on. This causes extreme discomfort for certain people that are not fit the machines.
Modern fitness machines, however, are pretty improved in this way. You can adjust your backrest angle, length, counter weight, and other many stuff as you like.


As for fitness machines, memorability is not that issue in most of cases since their uses are usually just one, or two, and pretty simple design. Therefore, memorability of modern machines is not so improved since this time, just we put instruction sticker on it.

4.Ease of error recovery

What is “error” on fitness machines? Well, there are 2 possible cases.

  • Not proper use caused inefficiency to train yourself
  • Not proper use caused injury (or death)

Both 2 errors are very likely to happen either in 20th century or 21st century, and it still remains as a major issue on fitness machines. Some fitness machines have a display to show you how efficiently you are working on the machine and how far you worked out already. This is one solution to the first issue, but not for the risk of injury. To mitigate these risks, we might need to wait until fitness machines will be implemented AI to monitor what you are doing on the machine. However, only we can do right now is to learn proper use of these machines and stick to it.