Knife Man

Interface Design Challenge (how to get rich)

Think about a teapot for a moment. Anyone can just glance at a teapot and know how to pour tea out of it. That's because you have a handle on one side and the spout on the other. If they were both on the same side, the teapot would be a constant source of frustration.

Door handles are the same way. If there's a handle, it implies "pull". If there's a plate, it implies "push". This is called an affordance. The design of the thing affords you the opportunity to do the right thing naturally. That's what tonight's Portland Perl Mongers meeting was about.

I started thinking about this and wondering what is poorly designed and how we can improve upon it. The thought that came to mind was the condom. How many times have you been in a dark room and realized you were trying to put the condom on the wrong way? You feel stupid and you have to throw away the condom (if you think you don't have to throw it away, you don't know enough about STDs).

Here's the design challenge that would make someone rich: how would you design a condom so that you can always put in on correctly even if the lights are off? One person suggested flavoring one side.

My idea involved a tack.
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hmm
Ok, so we need a cue that its been done correctly (or done incorrectly).

As we're likely not interested in solving logic puzzles, we're probably dependent on something that would make an immediate impression on one of our five senses (an interrupt, if you will).

It certainly could be based on the sense of taste, but that is unlikely to be an acceptable solution for many partners. "Hey baby, does this taste like shit or strawberries? I want to make sure its on correctly."

Visual cues might work. Maybe spell out STD in glow-in-the-dark ink on the inside. If you can see the STD you can get it.

I think tactile cues are out. If its something you'll notice if its put on incorrectly then likely its something she'll notice if its on correctly.

I wouldn't begin to know how to make an audio cue.

The sense of smell seems like a natural. Put something that lets off a strong smell of licorice about a third of the way down. If you smell licorice -- you've got it on wrong. If its on correctly the latex protects you from the smell.