editor's blog
Subscribe Now

Detecting Intuitive

A little over a year ago I went on a bit of a rant about intuitive design. Now… for those of you running for the door, I’m not going to reprise that rant. At least, not directly. But a comment at the recent Touch Gesture Motion conference got me thinking (always a dangerous thing), and from it came a new corollary conclusion.

The speaker noted that today’s phones were so intuitive that his 18-month-old could use them, and, in fact, that was a problem in case the child dialed Europe in the middle of the night. We all chuckled; cute.

But then I thought, “That’s not intuitive.” If that were really intuitive, then that means the 18-month old is waking up in the middle of the night going, “OK, cool: Dad’s asleep now. I can make that call to Europe I’ve been wanting to do. Let’s see, how would I do that? Let me try… this. Ah! Success!”

In other words, intuition suggests having intent and then knowing without learning how to achieve the goal. That’s not what the 18-month old is doing.

As I suggested in the prior piece, a baby is in super-learning mode. They try everything – touch, swipe, taste, smell, bang, drop – and watch what happens, duly filing away the results. Yes, they need lots of repetitions to convince themselves that, for example, gravity does indeed work every time (as any parent who has tried to keep the toys or dinner off the floor can attest). They have no idea what they’re doing in many cases: they just try something and see what happens.

They also do try to swipe and touch screens and such. Why? Because they see us do that. So they’re not undertaking intuitive actions; they’re learning how things work – the opposite of intuition. And I kind of drew this conclusion in the earlier piece.

But then it occurred to me: if you really want to test out intuitive, babies are NOT the right model. If you can give your grandparents a new device and he or she can immediately figure out how to use it, then you’ve got something intuitive. Unlike the baby, they don’t want to have to learn some new way of doing things; they just want it to work.

My guess would be that, by that standard, there are precious few intuitive interfaces. Because how many grandparents have been able to get going without asking for help from the grandkids?

(Yes, I know, this notion – however rational – will be, if even noticed, duly ignored by the rush to keep convincing ourselves that we have intuitive stuff. Ah groupthink…)

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Sep 18, 2021
Projects with a steampunk look-and-feel incorporate retro-futuristic technology and aesthetics inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery....
Sep 17, 2021
Dear BoardSurfers, I want to unapologetically hijack the normal news and exciting feature information that you are accustomed to reading about in the world of PCB Design blogs to eagerly let you know... [[ Click on the title to access the full blog on the Cadence Community s...
Sep 15, 2021
Learn how chiplets form the basis of multi-die HPC processor architectures, fueling modern HPC applications and scaling performance & power beyond Moore's Law. The post What's Driving the Demand for Chiplets? appeared first on From Silicon To Software....
Aug 5, 2021
Megh Computing's Video Analytics Solution (VAS) portfolio implements a flexible and scalable video analytics pipeline consisting of the following elements: Video Ingestion Video Transformation Object Detection and Inference Video Analytics Visualization   Because Megh's ...

featured video

Product Update: Complete DesignWare 400G/800G Ethernet IP

Sponsored by Synopsys

In this video product experts describe how designers can maximize the performance of their high-performance computing, AI and networking SoCs with Synopsys' complete DesignWare Ethernet 400G/800G IP solution, including MAC, PCS and PHY.

Click here for more information

featured paper

What is a smart DAC?

Sponsored by Texas Instruments

See how to add simple logic and programmability to analog circuits, without writing, maintaining and qualifying software. These devices have built-in non-volatile memory and are factory programmable. They also include programmable state machines, PWM generators and custom waveform generators – all in a single device. This means that adding simple intelligence to your analog circuits no longer requires a microcontroller.

Click to read more

featured chalk talk

Nordic Cellular IoT

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Nordic Semiconductor

Adding cellular connectivity to your IoT design is a complex undertaking, requiring a broad set of engineering skills and expertise. For most teams, this can pose a serious schedule challenge in getting products out the door. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with Kristian Sæther of Nordic Semiconductor about the easiest path to IoT cellular connectivity with the Nordic nRF9160 low-power system-in-package solution.

Click here for more information about Nordic Semiconductor nRF91 Cellular IoT Modules