Mag+


A super-interesting conceptual video for collaborative research project Mag+, initiated by Bonnier R&D, into the experience of reading magazines on handheld digital devices. Rather than introducing any sort of radical new UI paradigm, the concept relies on a minimalist yet typographically rich approach that mixes the best of print and screen interaction on a tablet-sized device.

How Canon Prototypes Cameras

How canon prototypes camera

Canon illustrates how they prototype camera bodies using balsa wood. Interesting article and a good reference for product designers.

Doug Bownman, Visual Design Lead at Google, gives a rundown on the recently updated buttons in Gmail and other Google apps.
The all-new 2009 BMW 7 series.

Wells Fargo’s New ATM

Over two three years ago, I had written a post sharing my experiences on using Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and the inherent need for a fresh user interaction model for ATMs. Roughly around the same time, Well’s Fargo, a diversified financial services company headquartered at San Fransisco with worldwide operations, commissioned Pentagram to work on new User Interfaces for their 7000 ATMs.

Wells Fargo new ATM UI

Holger Struppek, an ex-Pentagrammer, shares some of their experiences on working on the interfaces. One of the features that I had envisioned back then was a single click cash dispensing option that suggests an amount based on the user’s transaction history. Its good to learn that this feature has been adopted in Pentagram’s work -

A great feature of the Wells Fargo ATM UI has always been the Quick Cash button. It allows you to quickly withdraw $40 from your checking account with the press of one button. There is no need to go through the steps of selecting an account, selecting an amount, and confirming the transaction. However, few people knew that this feature could be customized with a different amount and account.

The article talks about the research, decision on using grid-based visual design, color palette, user testing and other stuff that went in to redefining the ATM interface design paradigm.

Jonathan Ive: Putting the Bite into Apple’s Design.
Its an intoxicating rush of adrenalin that I experience every time I hear a Ferrari revving. The new Ferrai California is one hell of a machine and has the looks to get my pulse racing.

PRADA Phone

The PRADA-LG mobile phone

Following iPhone’s recent launch, LG has announced its new completely touch-screen phone designed by PRADA. The phone features a Flash based interface and a 2 megapixel camera featuring Schneider-Kreuznachand. The phone is expected to be available in European stores by end of February.

iPhone

iPhone

Some notes and quick thoughts on the launch

  • The iPhone interface is pretty slick
  • The rich HTML Safari browser is definitely a feature to watch out for. I can already imagine a slew of mobile internet applications being developed to take advantage of this experience
  • Jason’s prediction on Apple cutting the crap (feature wise) and executing the basics beautifully is partly true. There’s loads of neat features to play with, especially watching TV shows, and interface enhancements that make you want to play with it.
  • Kottke does a visual comparison of the iPhone with some devices by making a scale model of the phone with specs from the Apple website
  • Louis compares the iPhone with other smartphones in the market
  • iphone.com does not redirect to the Apple website.
  • The iPhone with its OSX operating system will see more people switch to Mac
  • I’m concerned about how the phone can be maintained without smudging the screen now that it comes with a multi-touch screen. As Jon Hicks mentions, “touchscreens look lovely, until you touch them!
  • There’s a lot of scope for the accessory market to build an ecosystem around the iPhone. One neat add-on would be an organic fold-able keyboard complete with a dock that connects to the device using Bluetooth to aid in writing longer emails
  • Matt goes nostalgic and calls Apple, the new NASA
  • Chetan feels the iPhone is stupid as it doesn’t care for the blind
  • Khoi Vinh is head over heels in love with the typeface on the iPhone
  • Gruber suspects the iPhone being powered by ARM processor, in which Apple once had significant stake.
  • iWipe lets you keep the touch screen surface clean

Britannia Milk Bikis

Britannia Milk Bikis

Britannia has recently launched the new packaging for one of its most successful brands, the Milk Bikis. I’ve been addicted to this brand ever since I can remember and is a constituent of my daily staple diet. The blue and white and rather milkier packaging is a refreshing change.

The styling has undergone bold changes with the typeface being more bigger and heavier than the earlier one. The Britannia logo on the top left has decreased by almost 50% giving more emphasis on the brand than the company behind the brand as it should be. The new packaging focuses on the multi-vitamin goodness with a red and blue table on the lower half. The nutritional information has been neatly tabulated and pushed to the back of the package.

Milk Bikis
The old package on top vis-a-vis the brand new look

The biscuit itself has undergone a noticeable change. It now comes in a ‘grid format‘ that gives its more texture and better strength when dipped in tea or coffee. The earlier one would easily break off when dipped in piping hot tea, which was quite depressing if you’re the type who enjoys biscuits dipped in tea. The whole new packaging makes me feel happy and has also helped to sprinkle some good looks to my kitchen cabinet. As for the taste, its the pretty much the same thing we’ve all loved for years!

Previous biscuit packaging review : Parle-G

Sony VAIO UX

Sony VAIO UX series

If there’s one company that can give Apple a run for its money, its got to be Sony. The Sony VAIO UX is an ultraportable PC thats fits comfortably in your palm. It features a a 4.5″ TFT LCD with a resolution of 1024 x 768, 2 cameras (one for video conferencing), Intel Core Solo processor running at 1.2GHz, 512 megs of DDR2 RAM, a fast 533MHz front side bus, an EDGE radio and all the works you’d expect on a desktop. Small wonder then Apple hired Sony VAIO engineers to work on the Intel based notebooks.

Mitchelle Thatcher of CNET does a (video) review on the device.

I’ve fallen in love. This is just the sort of device, I’d like to go to bed with ( considering I do that now with this)

The 2007 Audi TT

Audi TT

The 2007 Audi TT. Awesome lines! Somehow I find the new TT bears a striking resemblance to the Porsche Cayman. The design process reveals it all.

Fevicol

Fevicol from Pidilite Industries

I just love using Fevicol. The smell, the way it sticks to your fingers and the time spent removing the adhesive from the hand brings back a lot of good memories. I recently purchased a new tube and was impressed with the way they’ve designed it. Now here’s a tube that allows you to spread the adhesive onto your work without messing your hand. The angled tip allows for easy application and cleaning it is also a breeze. Great work from the guys at Pidilite.

The ATM Experience

Tea time is when we at work relax, kick off our shoes and talk about stuff which are usually non-work related. The general conversation revolves around things currently in news or about some experience that one of us had over the weekend. Interestingly enough, our topic today was ATM – no, not the one thats got to do with mathematics, but the Automated Teller Machine.

An ATM machine

Visiting the ATM these days has become quite an ordeal. More often than not, you would end up waiting in a long queue. I’ve been using the ATM for the past couple of years and have had my share of experiences. This particular bank that I’m talking about (and I’m sure others would follow suit), has two teller machines close to my office and is usually crowded during business hours. A typical scene at the ATM is as follows -

  1. You go to the ATM with an urgent need for cash only to find a queue that snakes a mile long.
  2. You decide to wait in the queue after learning that the nearest ATM of the same bank is about 4 blocks away.
  3. While waiting at the queue you notice people cutting in – joining their friend/colleague/spouse who is standing ahead of you. You control your anger by biting your jaw.
  4. Almost half way through, you realize that one of the teller machines is not working. The two line queue reorganizes into one at the blink of an eye. You look at your watch and calculate how much longer you’d have to wait. You force yourself to be calm and chew another polo.
  5. After waiting for what seems like ages, you have finally one person in front of you when you see the other teller machine up and running. Your brain starts computing enormous differential algorithms and you finally decide to stick to the same queue.
  6. The person in front completes his transaction and you proceed to the teller. You gently push the ATM card into the slot and and enter your transaction details. The teller processes it and displays the following message -

    Sorry! Your transaction cannot be completed. Please try again later.

  7. You gather your wits, cancel the transaction, eject your card and try again. People behind start giving you all sorts of looks. You also notice the speed at which the other line starts moving. You are reminded of Murphy’s Laws. You enter the PIN code slowly this time, making sure you’ve entered them right and wait. You get the same message.
  8. You turn around and ask the person behind you to try his card. You step aside so that he can enter his PIN code. He gets the same message. We conclude that the teller has no money in it and make an announcement for the others.
  9. You turn to the second line and request the person whose turn is next to let you in after having explained your situation. He agrees and you thank him profusely.
  10. You proceed to the teller machine, complete your transaction, thank the person once again and leave.
The “experience” is not the same as what it used to be. The present ATM’s could do with a fair amount of re-engineering in design and usability so as to reduce time spent using it. The design of an ATM should not only include its inherent usability but also its perceived usability. For example, Tracktinsky found that subjects based their overall experience of the usability of the ATM on the look of the machine.

The current process can be listed as follows -

  • Insert card.
  • Select language.
  • Enter pin.
  • Choose transaction option.
  • Enter details (amount).
  • Receipt? (yes / no).
  • Withdraw cash
  • Another transaction? (yes / no)
  • Collect receipt.
  • Collect card (beeps)
Essentially, you would have to go through that many steps to withdraw money from the teller machine. This can be reduced to a certain extent by introducing AI into the system, thereby speeding things up. Here’s how -

  • If the user selects English as language, it should set that as default and quit asking the next time. (one key stroke less).
  • I’ve got the habit of withdrawing the same amount over 90% of the time, so it should allow for dispensing that amount (checking from transaction history) at the click of a single button rather than having me (the user) to enter the amount again. (3 or more key strokes less)
  • I’ve noticed slightly taller (6 feet and above) people having to bend down to look at the screen. This can be avoided by having configurable screen settings for individual users. So, certain users can have the screen tilt or the display height adjusted automatically when they insert their card into the machine. This returns to default state when the transaction is completed. Needless to say, the same goes for people of shorter height.

proposed ATM prototype

  • The display is also difficult to look at under certain lighting conditions especially outdoors. They could have sensors installed that automatically adjust display settings according to the ambience.
  • The ATM display could also do with better graphics. Motion graphics (flash) that fade-in and fade-out quickly can be quite pleasing to the eyes.
  • The teller could also display the available (or unavailable) currency denominations in the machine on user authentication. This will also alert the user before hand as to the available denominations in which he can withdraw.
  • A contact-less smart {proximity} card that stores vital information and configuration settings in encrypted format. This would result in longer card life and also allow the user to activate the teller without having to take the card out of the wallet.
These are some of things I came across over time. Have you felt the same? What are other features that you can think of that can help reduce time spent at the ATM?

The End is where it all begins
If you've reached this far, I suggest you check the archives - there's a lot more to dig in there! Alternatively, if you'd like to get in touch, go here.