This website section is our outlet for miscellaneous thoughts on human factors-related topics.

Products We Admire, 3rd Editon

August 17, 2005

Sealy Posturepedic “Plus Top” Mattress

We love the Sealy Posturepedic “Plush Top” mattress. Many Sheraton Hotels have them as part of their Sheraton Sweet Sleeper(sm) Bed package, which should be marketed as a powerful sleep aid. Simply put, these mattresses are incredibly comfortable. Don’t worry about springs or cross bars nailing you in the back.

Dial Complete® Foaming Soap

Many hospital restrooms are equipped with foaming soap, as opposed to liquid soap, dispensers for a reason. Foaming soap is supposed to be more effective at killing germs. Now, the product has moved into people’s homes. We like the feeling of the foam and it rinses off easily. Dispensing the airy foam is fun. Lots of companies make the soap and dispensers. We’ve been satisfied with Dial’s version and use it liberally after handling raw chicken.

Benjamin Moore Color Samples

These 2 oz. bottles of paint give people the freedom to try one or more colors on their wall before committing to it. There’s enough in the cute bottles to put two coats on a 2 ft. x 2 ft. area. The product is going to save people a lot of aggravation due to colors not looking quite right when dry. We expect many paint manufacturers to copy the idea.

Filed under: Products We Admire — Michael

Misspent Lives

August 10, 2005

USB stick

Let’s do the math to calculate the number of person-years wasted by inadequate memory stick design (a.k.a., USB thumb drives).

The problem with memory sticks is that their rectangular prong lacks shape coding or “keying” to indicate their proper orientation. So, people simply try it one way and, if it doesn’t fit, flip it over and try again. Labeling and LED indicators don’t help much because the USB port’s orientation varies from device to device. It feels like there’s a 50/50 chance of error, like putting on a T-shirt in the dark.

To be conservative, let’s assume 100 million Americans waste 2 seconds a day fiddling with memory sticks. That’s 200 million seconds a day. In a single year, that’s about 19 lifetimes.

Filed under: Design — Michael

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