pcomp03 - interactive technology in public


“Tap your card please”

When I just arrived at New York, I was so confused about how I should use my card. And I have to let people teach me in different occasions.

“Tap your card please.”

“Insert your card please.”

“Swipe your card please.”

“Show your card to me please.”
“No the other side with your face, thank you.”

Yes the last one is in Tisch building.

More importantly, even within the tapping option, there are still several choices ahead. For example, in the CS buiding I tap my card on left side of the electronic door, while in library I tap on top of the electronic door. And in student health center I tap on the table of front desk.





And I have some touble swiping the metroCard. I cannot find where to swipe because the grooves don’t have some special color, and it can’t be to fast or too slow but they don’t really tell you that.

Also, I don’t know if I should throw away my per-ride card or swipe it again or insert it somewhere to get off the subway station.


As Norman suggests, we are made to know how to interact with an object even with a glance on it, based on its affordance.

norman doors

So I start to think about the affordance of a card. What are we supposed to do with a small slice of paper/plastic?

First thing come into my mind is:






use as a sign



Interestingly, those happen to be all the interactive patterns I found when I googled “card” images. I never saw one swipe, insert or tap picture.

Let me boldly deduce that card are designed to be stored well, hold well, but not used well.

Because our fingers do not know how to swipe or insert a card natually. Maybe our ancestors do not do that in nature. And that’s a learned skill.

Maybe the reason why is magnetism is not something visible and obivious.

But since we cannot easily change affordance of cards, we may do something with the other part – the card reader.


For me, the key elements maybe:

make different card readers coherent

If one tap, all tap. If one tap in the front, all tap in the front.

make tap zone obivious

Maybe words, signs, pics…Let people know at one glance.

Another way to solve this problem may be: just get ride of the cards. Use phone or some inserted chips instead.


Inspirations from Norman(some notes)

These neurochemicals change the parameters of thought, adjusting such things as whether reason is primarily depth first (focused, not easily distracted) or breadth first (creative, out of the box thinking, but easily distractible).

Anxiety focuses the mind, reducing distractions.

If people are given small, unexpected gifts, afterwards they are able to solve problems that require creative thought better than people who were not given gifts.

Sometimes, of course, the tunnel vision can lead to harm, just as sometimes the broadening of the thought process can distract can prevent solution.

Start by considering tools meant for stressful situations, where the negative affect of the task leads to depth-first processing and, in the extreme case, tunnel vision.

Take a simple example – trying to escape a hazardous situation. Suppose that fleeing people encounter a door that won’t open. The anxiety-produced response is to try again harder. When the first push doesn’t open the door, press harder, kick, and even throw the body against it. In less stressful situations people might recognize that the correct solution is to pull instead of push, but not in high-anxiety producing ones. Designs intended for stressful situations have to pay special attention to matching the needs of the users, to making appropriate actions salient and easy to apply. In other words, the principles of good human-centered design are especially important in stressful situations.

So too should we not go back to ugly, ill-designed things. (Me: like windows XD)

Although the cognitive analyses of usability and function are important, so too is the affective analysis. Let the future of everyday things be ones that do their job, that are easy to use, and that provide enjoyment and pleasure.

True beauty in a product has to be more than skin deep, more than a façade. To be truly beautiful, wondrous, and pleasurable, the product has to fulfill a useful function, work well, and be usable and understandable.

Good design means that beauty and usability are in balance.

From attractive things work better by Norman