Big Phones & Thumb Zones

When the era of all-touchscreen smartphones began in ye olden days of 2007, screens were smaller: holding the phone in one hand, your thumb could reach (almost) any corner of the screen. But now the trend is toward larger screens - and since people still prefer one-handed use, mobile OS and app designers need to accommodate the limitations of real-life thumbs. Mobile developer Scott Hurff has a wonderful summary of this new reality, mapping the comfort zones of different touchscreen sizes and exploring the design features that fit them. It's worth a look - you'll realize that you can't simply make a phone bigger to make it bigger, or you'll end up with some very unhappy thumbs!
[via Core77]

Humangear puts humans first, gear second...

Instead of calling out a single product for good or bad usability design, this time I'll point to a whole company: humangear is doing a great job of putting user-centric design above everything else. All the products shown above are clever in their ways - one detail I love that's included in several of them is a recessed labeling area, so penned-on labels won't get rubbed off. Check them all out, and you just may find yourself buying a few! (And I'd like to point out that the title of this post is literally true.)
[via Core77]

Knee Defender: The dark side of product design...

I love the ability of good design to make life better for everyone. And then something like the Knee Defender comes along to remind me that it can be used for evil, too. It's a nefarious, wicked, irresponsible, and unfortunately effective device that prevents the airline passenger in front of you from reclining. It's been the cause of at least one flight-diverting in-air scuffle, has been banned by many airlines, and its accompanying etiquette guide is only good for a laugh. But hey, maybe it's good that this so-called "Me First" product has gotten some media attention - so that we all see how low we could go, and instead aim higher.

Buttons you don't use are "Unpressable!"

Ain't it the truth? (Although we should expect nothing less from a site called "Truth Facts.") In any case, the illustration on the left actually seems pretty tame compared to most remotes out there! Focus on the buttons we need and use; get the others out of the way.
[Truth Facts via Gizmodo]

The NoPhone: Fixing your fixation...

Happy 2015, everyone; if part of your new year's resolution is to spend more time with the real world and less time squinting at your smartphone, the NoPhone just might help. Like smokers develop oral fixations, smartphone users have fixated on a rectangular slab of a certain size and weight; this is that slab, and nothing more. As the site explains, it's "Battery Free, No Upgrades Necessary, Waterproof, Shatterproof" - all technology features are helpfully listed as "No." It's a clever piece of commentary - and who knows, maybe it's also a tool that could help some addicts out there.
[via Engadget]

"Green Man Plus" gives seniors more time to cross...

Pedestrian crossing signals have a tricky balance to strike in giving people enough time to cross, but not so much time that it unnecessarily slows traffic. The problem becomes more difficult when considering the difference in walking speed between able-bodied people and the elderly or otherwise impaired: what's good for the former is insufficient for the latter. Singapore has an excellent solution called "Green Man Plus," where anyone who needs to can tap an RFID card by the signal button to get a longer crossing time. This is a great approach - at least until crossing cameras are smart enough to detect pedestrian paces and adjust accordingly.
[via Gizmodo]

Pinclip, lovechild of pushpin & paperclip...

Good old-fashioned bulletin boards are great - I've got one in my office full of anything I need to keep in mind but want to keep off my desk. However, this convenience usually comes at the price of perforating whatever you put up there with tiny pushpin holes. Paperclips, meanwhile, have been retaining papers together for decades without piercing them. So it's remarkable that the Pinclip, a hybrid between pushpin and paperclip, has only recently been invented! It seems that some great ideas are occasionally still just there for the taking...
[via Gizmodo]