Thursday, December 27, 2007

Baby Monitor Volume Control

For once this is me actually lauding a design. There is nothing obviously outstanding about this monitor. In fact, the best thing about it is a simple decision that requires no technological innovation whatsoever. It is the volume control. At first glance, it may just appear to be a regular scroll wheel… because it is! The only difference is that it is set up in reverse, so that when it scrolls down, the volume increases. The reasoning for this is that parents like me hear the baby crying and reach over to look at the monitor. This is an arduous movement considering that its 3:30AM and we're averaging 4 hours sleep over the past week. Often times we won't grab the monitor cleanly, and the hand will accidentally slide down over the volume scroll wheel. Now, if this were a standard volume scroll wheel (which it would be were it not for the designer who came up with this idea), I very well might mute my sons screams and go back to bed. This would be nice initially, but at best I would wake up feeling like crap, and at worst I could be ignoring the screams of a child who is in genuine distress.

Just goes to show that designing around the user's real-world activity can result in the little changes that will make a world of difference.

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