If you make elevators like this

23.07.2011 16:50

Last week I attended Barcamp Ljubljana. It was hosted at the IBM innovation center in Ljubljana's newest and highest skyscraper. The event took place on the 3rd floor, which meant you have to use one of the six elevators to get there. This proved to be somewhat of a challenge for an ignorant visitor like me.

Upon entering the hall I saw a couple of elevators and no obvious means to call them. There were a few terminals like this on the wall:

Miconic 10 elevator terminal

Now, in my experience, elevators come in two varieties: the one for public use where you get one or two buttons to call them, and the one for private use that require some sort of authentication, either with a key, card or PIN code. The complicated keyboard in this particular example hinted strongly at the latter case.

I should mention that I'm not usually the type that doesn't read instructions. But somehow I completely missed the A4-sized manual on the top of the keyboard at that time (I only noticed it after the lunch break, when I also took this photograph).

After seeking help I was told there is no password required and that I only need to type in the floor I want to go to. I did so, and before the elevator came, a group of people joined me in the hall. They punched a few numbers on the keypad and looked relatively familiar with the system.

When the elevator came, it was obvious that it was too small for all of us. So some stayed behind in the hall to wait for another one. This confused the system somewhat, because people that punched floors 1 and 2 didn't actually go in. We stopped at both of them and the knowledgeable co-passengers knew that they had to wave hands between the doors in order to trick the elevator to close the doors and continue.

After the lunch break I read through the manual and noticed that every passenger ought to type the destination separately (which the group obviously didn't) with at least 2.5 seconds between different passengers and that the doors will not close until the elevator has seen people enter or leave the cabin (that there is no additional button to override this in the cabin is listed as a feature).

So for whoever designed this Miconic 10 system, here's a free user testing conclusion: whatever theoretical gain this system can produce in terms of travel time using the additional information it has available over the traditional up-down call button is completely offset by practical limitations of lowly humans that change their minds and don't want to stick to overly complicated procedures.

Posted by Tomaž | Categories: Life

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