The Wall Oven’s
surfaces to mate
This can reduce
and provide a
surface at counter
line for sliding out
graphically illustrates the past, current, and
future states of each appliance. For instance, in
the washing machine interface example shown
here, the various steps of a heavy load sequence
are revealed with demarkation of current status.
Compared with current radial dial interfaces with
lots of small text and confusing terminology,
a pictographic display supported by simple,
readable text can easily communicate a range of
information—What can I do with this appliance?
What is the appliance doing now? What is it going
to do next? What did it just do? What must I do
now? What did I just do? What must I do next?
Currently, the research generated in the scope
of the GE Autonomy project is being used as guidelines and criteria for new product development
and product updating across their brands.
Inclusive Utility and Safety
One of the major qualities of universal design is
Product forms inherently must express state and usage through
their behavior and form to provide adequate feedback. In the
medicine-bottle concept here, the squared form demonstrates that
when the bottle is not securely closed, the corners will not align.
In addition, the squared form fits the natural angles of the hand to
provide better leverage for grasping and opening. (Designed by
Mark Baskinger, May 2000.)
the visual language of product forms and how
product forms are structured to embody and communicate information. Through visual form, language products can inform interaction, encourage
behaviors, and shape user experience. In risky or
potentially dangerous situations, product impact
is amplified; designed artifacts must clarify and
present information in easily accessible and intuitive ways. In certain devices, tools, and product
systems, the need for simplicity and clarity is
explicit. So why do we have so many products
that fail us in this respect? As part of a study on
packaging and poisoning for elders, I found that
the current prescription medicine bottle is problematic for a lot of people beyond the elder population. Declining eyesight, low-light scenarios, and
the frequency of taking multiple medications—
common for many elders—greatly complicate an
already risky scenario. There is a complete disconnect between the bottle form and the labeling
system to encourage safe practice and compliance.
Therefore, establishing hierarchies of information
in many forms may empower elders (and us all) to
index medications easily, store them appropriately,
and so on.
Relying on pictures alone can be problematic as
well. In the case of a medicine bottle, fire extinguisher, or other potentially life-implicating products, synergy must exist between physical form,
graphic imaging, and textual communication. In
scenarios where ailments like arthritis and glaucoma prevent people from using products appropriately, hazardous scenarios can arise. Whose
fault is it when an elder takes the wrong dosage
of medication, or when the bottle rolls out of the
medicine cabinet, spilling pills down the drain?
Where does responsibility lie when the grandkids
get access to the pills that grandma stores on the
These are not issues associated only with aging;
they relate to us all.
Inclusive Design for Kids