Usability and Information Appliances

In the last few days I’ve finished writing an article for a magazine on the topic of usability. Typically I end up researching quite widely but because of space (and time) constraints some of the peripheral ideas end up being put aside. In this case I was side tracked momentarily by the concept of information appliances. They sit at the opposite end of the spectrum from all singing and dancing, multifunctional technologies. Information appliances can help to reduce some of the complexities around achieving usability by focusing on discreet tasks and by positioning technology within a specific and often physical context. A good example is Steelcase’s RoomWizardTM. For more on information appliances see the Appliance Studio site. It is also worthwhile looking at the success of self-service kiosks in airports and a well known fast food chain – not only are they a good examples of information appliances in practice, the airport kiosks also show how you can empower customers with information technology.