Tiffany Chao

tjyc [at] umd [dot] edu; no other websites or accounts.

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1. Interface that I like: my car key/remote.


Used to lock and unlock the car, and set off the car alarm.
  • It's simple, not overly bulky: three buttons, one physical key, one hole for the key to fit on a keyring.
  • One button per function.
  • All buttons are labeled, and are distinguishable by touch.
  • Due to button shape and placement, it's harder to unlock the car than it is to lock it, and harder still to activate the sliver of a panic button.
  • I've never had to use the physical key, but it's there in case the remote fails. (And it works. I've tried.)
  • It has decent range; I often repeatedly click the lock button to locate my car in parking lots.
  • I can empirically determine whether it is in range, out of range, or out of batteries.
  • The car responds differently to each button, visibly and audibly.
  • It has yet to break.

2. Interface that I don't like: my garage door remote.


Used to remote open garage doors.
  • It's simple, but unclear: if I weren't introduced to it in the context of my car, I wouldn't have known that it opened garage doors.
  • There are three nondescript buttons: one large, two small. I find them difficult to distinguish by touch despite the raised lines.
  • All three buttons can be arbitrarily mapped to one of two doors. How do I change the mapping? I have no idea.
  • If my family had kept the factory-default entry code, anyone with the same factory-default remote could have opened our garage doors.
  • It has poor, unpredictable range -- poor to the point where I can never tell whether it's out of range or out of batteries.
  • There used to be a metal clip on the back. It didn't work well, so I removed it. Now it at least lies flat.
  • I've only ever used two of the three buttons.
  • I don't know what the third button is for.
  • It's not even remotely aesthetically pleasing.