The simplicity of the remote control means you can control something from a remote distance. The technology behind the little devices is genius, but how well do the controls convey an easy approach to operation?
The first remote intended to control a television was developed by Zenith Radio Corporation in the early 1950s. The remote â€” unofficially called â€œLazy Bonesâ€? â€” used a wire to connect to the television set. To improve the cumbersome setup, a wireless remote control was created in 1955. – Wikipedia
|The Zenith Remote|
Since their inception, remote controls don’t seem to have changed much. In fact the only real change has been in size, first getting smaller with battery technology and then getting bigger due to an amass of functions. Early remotes simply controlled the volume and the channel. With televisions adding functions, the remotes had to handle more of those functions, or did they? Now we’re into the digital era, television remotes simply access the digital menu within the television and by navigating this menu, most of the super-advanced functions have been removed.
At the time of writing, the latest remote to be listed on RemoteCentral.com is the MX-950 “Aurora” Remote Control. Sounds like a good name, right? And it looks pretty cool too, right? Well that’s all a matter of opinion. The low resolution of this image brings me to my first point. What if you can’t see the labels? If it’s dark, or you need glasses to view something that close? Handling a remote control should be intuitive, quick and easy. Fingers and thumbs should be able to locate the desired function without taking an eye off of the television.
A well designed remote control might utilise many forms of visual, physical or sound orientated communication. The buttons might conform to an unidentified universal remote design code, using physical icons to represent the key functions. Icons which can be represented through touch or vision. Elastic Space talks about how design for RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) needs to define a graphic language for touch.
Good software is one example of how a common GUI (Graphical User Interface) is deemed nessecary. Users feel that they can move from one software package to another without having to completely re-learn the user interface. File… Save… will probably always save the work / page / image you are viewing. Cut, Copy and Paste commands have universal logo’s. So where are these definable moments within the everyday simple technology which we choose to surround ourselves with.
The Kameleon from OFA (One For All) is an example of taking the technology to a further and more expensive level. Not everyone is ready to spend Â£50 on a 4 in 1 remote control. The design works, and i’m pretty sure people are buying it, but shouldn’t the design of the remote control be more about speed and intuition? I think so!
Are these products over-designed? Can we do without many of the functions the average remote control has? How often do we use all of these functions? Is there another way?