If you come to the entrance hall on Dassault Systèmes Campus in Vélizy, you’ll find a 65” screen which displays objects on a time axis.
Most people who wait there to be picked up for their appointment or those who simply spare a minute approach the screen and touch the surface – which reminds me a bit of the opening scene in Odysee 2001 of Stanly Kubrick, where the apes approach the black monolith.
Click to watch the video trailer
But back to the subject! I wondered what incites the visitors. Curiosity at first, but then they seem to look for a kind of communication feedback from the machine: “When I touch this … what do I get?” … “Wow, it reacts to my fingers’ movements … to my whole hand”
By playing, navigating and discovering the objects on the screen it naturally becomes obvious that the installation represents a timeline with DS history from 1981 onwards, with important events and achievements all along the way until today.
This Timeline application hosts photos, videos, documents, sounds to be browsed and positioned along time marks, and to be played with in a very sensual way. It seems that by this immersive interaction the visitor gains interest and starts to develop a positive relationship with the content displayed.
Watch for yourself how this comes about:
There is a whole science behind the psychology of motivating and reassuring users to work with technical systems. I was personally involved in a consulting activity to help application developers to optimize their work by improving what is called Software Ergonomics or Human-Computer-Interaction in a broader sense, i.e. the user experience when interacting with a computer system.
Traditionally this communication is achieved via input/output devices and screens. With recent technology advancement we can add immersive interaction possibilities while using fingers, hands and the whole body, and while at the same time getting sensorial feedback. Taken to the extreme, the user becomes an actor – a part of the machine … just look at this previous post on 3D Perspectives for a high-end example of user/system/application-interaction.
The most important point from this is that user experience is the ultimate criteria to measure ergonomic quality.
The Timeline application has been built for us by the “touch agency” Tactineo using state-of-the-art touch screen technology from nextwindow with a special focus to optimize the user experience to comply with a “zero training” requirement, i.e. achieving something which is totally intuitive for visitors of all type. Therefore the application appears to be simple – which is the ultimate purpose.
However, achieving the highest level of ease-of-use is hard work for the application developers. Also, the perception of good user ergonomics requires top technical performance of hardware components and drivers, i.e. reaction times of the object to user manipulations needs to be immediate without any noticeable delay.
As soon as the user feels “in control” motivation kicks in to do more … to explore all of the content, play with objects … do something crazy (yet, no crash allowed in this scenario).
Ergonomics is so important for user acceptance and thus for the success of a technical application. And the user decision is immediate – concluded within the first manipulations.
Either “like it” or “hate it” … think about it.
Have a good week!