This week’s assignment, was to choose a piece of public interactive technology and observe it. I chose the key/ID fob. I found it interesting as I used to have to use it for work all the time, and it seemed like an underrated piece of technology.
I went to Midtown to the lobby of the old agency I used to work in (this was back in Chicago, but they have an office here in NYC) to see how people interacted with it. When everything goes according to plan, they don’t even think about it. They don’t celebrate it or make a big deal. When it doesn’t work, you can tell the fuse with the technology is very short. They run it again, shake the handle of the door and visibly get frustrated very easily.
It’s like breathing… when it goes right you don’t even notice, but when it goes wrong things go south quickly.
I found this very interesting as it seems to be an extension of their own body. They keep it in places very personal to them (wallet, keychain, etc) so that it’s easily accessible and with the “essentials” everyone needs. The smaller, more portable, the better.
I guess, based on Norman’s “Emotional Design” reading, this is explicitly designed for efficiency and practicality. Leaving out design for it’s aesthetic (not for its subtlety). I can see how this could be redesigned to be more aesthetically pleasing, and to be more attractive, but it’s some of those things that I feel are irrelevant.
While the key fob is kept in very essential, private places it’s not actually private. It belongs to you while you are at the company, but the moment you leave you also leave behind the key fab. Why then, would you customize or over design something that is not really yours to leave it behind for someone else to appropriate?
Practicality and efficiency seem to be the right route for this specific piece of technology.