Posts Tagged ‘subway’

Observing interactions

// October 21st, 2009 // No Comments » // Physical Computing

This week in pcomp we were asked to observe people interacting with technology in a public space. I decided to observe people using subway turnstiles. As I did, I recorded a timelapse video in effort to document some of the patterns I noticed. The affordances that lead to the intended interaction are fairly straight forward in their design. The action associated with the turnstile itself is common enough to create accurate expectations. The signage helps to direct traffic and the device for swiping the card presents a familiar interface. The design of this interface didn’t seem to cause a problem for using the card, but instead the functionality of it. Most people didn’t have problems, but there was definitely some who did. You could often tell that in differentiating these two groups, those who would have troubles often seemed to be people not from the city (and in turn were not familiar with the system). Others you could tell had troubles with dexterity in general.

The most interesting observation through all of this I found was that when people had troubles swiping their card, they didn’t often try to do anything differently in their subsequent attempts. It seemed like they’re thinking might have been, “must be the machine, I didn’t do anything wrong”. The only feedback the machines give you is a message reading to swipe your card again. Improving upon this feedback would significantly help. If people don’t know they are making a mistake, or how to correct it, it can be difficult to correct. I only managed to catch one of these interactions in the video below (the last person through).