Discussion Activity 08

Ok, I know, I know … I am REALLY late with the DA for this week. I’ll make it up to you though. How, you ask? Well, how about this … NO DA NEXT WEEK! You turn this one in by end of next week and you get 20 points for it. Now, there are some rules associated with this one … I am interested in you all going above and beyond, so I am adding a few wrinkles to the mix. Read on …

What I want you to do is complete the DA in typical fashion by posting your comments here in the Class Blog, but as you’ll notice this DA is asking for a report … what does that mean? Well, look at it this way, I am counting this twice, so it should be well thought out, creative, and follow all the guidelines below. Take your time and do this well … one point to consider, you may want to think outside of the examples provided. First of all, everyone in the class will do a MAC machine … and second, the examples are well-understood systems. Try to think of some other types of interfaces people are faced with on a regular basis — look in the HUB, at the gas station, the grocery store, and all sorts of places.

I’m not going to do an overview of the topic — I expect you are reading!

Discussion Activity

Conduct a real-world observation of people using a system such as an ATM machine, Lion Cash machine, or Swipe card machine for doors. Write a report describing the system. Make sure to include a description of the interface, the functions of the system, the social environment of system, and your observations of people using the system. Observe for 30 minutes, but do not talk to the users. You should only make observations. Be sure not to jeopardize users’ security by observing too closely.

46 thoughts on “Discussion Activity 08

  1. If you work as a bartender, your job is going to be pretty fast paced. Numerous drink orders come in at the same time and require the bartender to make the best use of his time. With a touch screen computer to his aid, the bartender can enter drinks into bar tabs and get printouts quickly so that he can remember what drinks need to be made. With the social climate he is working in, this machine seems to enable him to keep all the customers happy and earn those much desired tips. The computer is centered in the bar area, allowing the user to access it in a short amount of time no matter which end of the bar he is at. The interface of this particular machine has large buttons with a hierarchy function. Each button that the bartender has to select from was designed with a pale background and dark text, allowing greater visibility in the poorly lit area. In the beginning, the bartender must tell the machine the correct tab to place the drink order on. This is done with one touch to the screen. Each person has a description or name which he can easily recognize and select. As soon as he chooses the customer, another group of buttons emerges for the different catgegories, i.e. Beer, Liquor, Wine. He quickly selects the proper catgegory and instantly views the available brands of beer or wine, or the mixed drink/shot of liquor. The brands or mixed drinks are in alphabetical order, making it easier for him to find the particular one he is looking for. I saw the bartender enter four drink orders in less than 45 seconds. The prices were added to the bill, a drink order was printed out so he knew which drinks to make, and this was all done with approximately three touches to a screen per drink. When a patron decided it was time to leave, the bartender could print out their tab with two touches, and didn’t have to do any math, ensuring that the total was correct. This interaction between bartender and computer enabled the worker to make more people happy and more money at the same time. He was much more efficient, allowing for a larger crowd to be served with less effort. With the social environment so demanding, I cannot imagine the bartender collecting money for every drink purchased or trying to add up a total bill at the end of a long night. The touch screen system has also more than likely taken a lot of stress out of the workers night. On an ergonomic note, the machine is chest high so it is easily interacted with while the bartender is standing. The simplistic nature of the interface is probably the greatest attribute for this machine. If the user had to go through menus or search manually for items, it would be much more difficult. This machine without a doubt increases the profitability of the establishment as well as the bartender. The patrons were undoubtedly more satisfied because of this human computer interaction, and showed their pleasure with more tips and more stumbling on the way home.

  2. Perhaps my favorite interface in public would have to be the Sheetz MTO touch screens. These are not only great because you handle your order with the simple touch of a screen, but you see exactly what you are ordering right down to the condiments on every sandwich.

    The Sheetz touch screens are really a thing of genius. Located in a crowded convience store, where people are rushing in and out filling up coffee, paying for gas, getting beverages, and whatever else people might be doing, these machines are located usually against one wall of the store so the people using them are somewhat out of traffic from the other customers. The screens display all possible menus choices by narrowing down what the user wants. It begins with choices like hot sub, cold subs, hamburgers, fajitas, nachos, hot dogs, breakfast sandwiches, and salads then narrows it down as to what specific menu item you want. The neat thing is, it gives you a visual of each menu item so you can decide what you want based on how it looks. It even does this for each condiment! Once you’ve gotten your order just the way you like it, it sends the order to the staff behind the sandwich bar.

    The interface of the touch screen looks something like :
    The screen isn’t too bright. Soft colors are used. The buttons have rounded edges, and the entire screen is just simply nice to look at.

    The great thing about the system is it speeds up the process of ordering so much faster. If a person has a general idea of what they want, for instance a hot sub, the Sheetz touch screen will take it from there and narrow down to exactly what they are looking for like a Buffalo Chicken Sub or a Philly Cheesesteak. Also, it lists all available toppings right there so there is no question as to whether they have a specific topping on not. I feel as though this makes it easier on the customer and the staff, because the staff can focus on making the sandwiches and not have to deal with potentially annoying customers while the customers don’t have to try to explain exactly what they want on their sandwiches to the staff.

    Perhaps the only bad thing about the system would be the noise it makes when a button is pressed on the touch screen, well that and the fact that the user has to touch a screen that thousands of people touch a day. Gross. Anyways, the noise the computer makes is a loud “BOOP,” and while I understand it is important to have the noise so the user knows for sure they pressed a button, the noise could be different. I don’t know how the Sheetz employees don’t go crazy with constant booping.

    Overall, the Sheetz touch screen is a brillant system. It allows users to stand away from the constant traffic in the store, it removes all potentially poor verbal communication between user and staff and converts it into one simple easy to understand order, is very easy to use, and is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The Sheetz touch screens are by far the prettiest and easy to use menus I’ve ever seen.

  3. I conducted my survey of a human computer interface machine at the PNC Bank on College Ave. Outside they have not just one automated teller machine, but actually three. This is an expansion from last year because they used to only have one and I can remember waiting in line for almost 10 minutes to get out money. This location is perhaps one of the busiest in the whole town. Allen Street is where all of the action is and it is close to most of the busiest classrooms at Penn State (Willard, Sparks, the engineering buildings, etc.) I was fortunate enough to get a parking spot in front of the bank so I just sat in my car and observed people as they came to and from the ATM machine.

    The convenience of the ATM machine is endless. It allows people to access their accounts quickly, never have to deal with a person behind the desk, or even walk into the bank! Simplicity of these machines makes them so popular and people who don’t even know how to access the internet can access their bank funds with a simple ID card and a password! While I watched clients of the PNC bank, and I suppose some people who don’t belong to PNC bank because most of the ATM machines will accept other bank cards along with a simple processing fee, the average time at the HCI was about 2 minutes once they got to the machine. Today, there wasn’t much of a wait for patrons, maybe 1 or two people at the most and I assume that they put the additional machines in because of their high levels of activity due to their location. Saving time and being in a rush is all the rage these days and ATM machines help us save valuable minutes while getting money and managing our accounts.

    When you hear the words “human computer interface” it sounds like a pretty scary concept but in all reality, the machines are designed with the HUMAN factor as their number one priority. If average citizens can’t use the machines, then there is no point in even having them. I didn’t see anyone have problems with the machines and everyone seemed to come away happy, and normally with money in their hand! People just came and went and got their business done. Now I am a PNC Bank member (mostly because they sponsor Penn State and that is the easiest way for me to be connected to my accounts) so after I was done watching, I got out of my car and checked out the HCI. Its features were pretty simplistic to use and if I had any problems, I could always press the help button. To begin, I needed to insert my ATM card, debit card, or even credit card to name a few. The display was large and easy to read, also when I needed to hit a certain option — arrows pointed me to the correct button to press. There was an audio insert for headphones that could actually explain to me what my next step could be. When it asked for my password, it was very easy to hit the large buttons that I couldn’t miss. I noticed on the buttons that the numbers were very large and there was even Brail letters too, which makes these machines even convenient for people who have a hard time seeing or are blind. Once I was logged in and verified, my options were endless to what I could do with the machine. I could take out money, check balances, and even deposit money with the click of the button. When I was done with my transaction, I could even print out a receipt telling me exactly what I did.

    Accessibility, simplicity, and convenience is what HCIs bring to us today. I have no idea where we be today without these machines. They save us time and hassle and are everywhere, at the mall, student union, and even in the IST building.

  4. There are many interfaces that one could potentially write on, but one that stands out is the card swipe on front of the dorms here at Penn State. I believe that this interface is a beneficial one. I came to this conclusion after examining the interface and those using it for a span of 20-30 minutes. According to the reading a good interface, must include the following: Speed, security, usability for all, reliability, along with a few others. The card swipe has these characteristics, or at least a lot of them.
    The interface is a black box looking interface that has a column that enables one to swipe their card. The interface then opens the door. The card has a magnetic strip on it and determines whether or not access is granted. The interface itself is close to the ground, so therefore handicapped have access. The general purpose is just to make sure those who aren’t supposed to be inside the building aren’t. The social environment of the interface includes the fact that it revolves around college students. It is outside every door and it is virtually the student’s only legal ways of entering the building.
    After observing, I learned that many students feel stressed and annoyed to have to swipe their cards every time they want to enter the building. Most individuals have bags or some sort of thing they are carrying in, so they will have to set it down, get out their card and then swipe it. So generally, I came up with the conclusion that it does take a lot of time to use the interface, but it does serve a very good purpose and I believe the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
    Overall, I believe that the Penn State swipe card system has both its ups and downs. The interface itself is easy to understand. I mean of course one could put their card in wrong, but it’s not that big of a deal if that happens. There could potentially be some problems for the blind or those with handicaps, but overall it is an okay interface. It does the job. It’s simple and could cause some problems, but the purpose (at least in my mind) will always outweigh the disadvantages. Maybe at some point, a better interface will come out. I am actually sure one probably will, but for now we are stuck with what we have. Interfaces have a lot of characteristics that they should follow to make them virtually flawless. Those constructing them and maintaining them should always have those characteristics in mind.

    If one goes to this page http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2003/02/02-04-03tdc/02-04-03dscihealth-01.asp, it shows an article about the card swipe and then has a graphic that goes along with it.

  5. People use computer systems everyday. Computer systems and interfaces have been intergraded into our daily lives. Some examples of these everyday computer interfaces are ATM machines, cell phones, swipe card machines in stores, touch screens to order deli meat and cheese, as well as touch screens to order subs, and self-checkout lanes in some super markets. Even the cars that you drive are becoming increasingly dependant on computer systems. For example, many newer cars have a computer chip in the ignition key. These cars will not start until the chip is detected and a signal is sent to the onboard computer in the car. Cars also have On-Star now, a GPS (global positioning satellite) like system that people depend on to find their way from point A to point B.
    Over the past week, I have observed people and how they interact with several systems. I’ve watched how people swipe their credit cards at the checkout line, and how people use ATM machines. However, I observed at length how people interacted with the ATM machine on Burrows St. next to the subway. I must admit I felt very awkward watching people interact with an ATM machine. Some of the big issues with the users from my point of view, was how to put their card in. Many people had their cards spit back out at them indicating they had put the card in upside down, or possibly backwards. Many users are also not used to a system in which their card gets sucked up and kept until the transaction is done. Similar systems require only a card swipe. I know many people that have left their cards in these machines because they are not used to it holding onto the card while the transaction is taking place. With this in mind, the designer of this ATM made the machine beep after the transaction is finished if the card is not taken out of the machine. I could not see very well, but to my knowledge no one had any major issues with the interface of the machine. I’m sure people are used to the system, and I know for a fact because I have used it many times that the option based interface is easy to use if you can read.
    The option interface asks the user to input their pin number and then hit a key on the side of the screen. The key that is to be hit when ready has an arrow pointing towards it so that the wrong key is not entered. After that, another screen comes up with a question and several possible answers, again with arrows pointing from the answer to a key on the side of the screen. The interface makes it very easy to, withdrawal money, transfer money, or simply get a balance summery of your checking or savings account.
    There are many different ways computers interfaces have come into our daily lives. I’m not talking about the obvious windows interface either. Touch screens to order things, touch screens in cars, swipe card machines, cell phones, and ATM machines. I believe that the ATM system has been designed very well. As long as someone takes the time to read the questions, they should have no problem using the system. The problem of course is that people don’t always take time to read everything. The fact that all ATMs are very similar minimizes the mistakes of impatient people.

  6. Without a doubt user interfaces are everywhere. They are used for many things including transactions, such as ATM’s, security, such as the locks on dorms, and convenience, such as quick payments at places such as gas stations. The development of these user interfaces has helped quicken the pace of society. The interface that I chose to focus on is one in a supermarket. I have observed the uses of these interfaces many times as I have waited in line.

    These interfaces are really quite simple and are not really far past the technology used by a basic checkout. The main difference is the customer scans the items they wish to purchase and then the price rings up on a touch screen. This touch screen, which has a light background with two 3-D dark red boxes and light text, offers two options. The machine also provides step by step instructions that are spoken so that you can verbally listen to what should be done. The options are to pay with either cash, in which the machine will accept money from the customer (much like a vending machine) and dispense any change, or, the customer may choose to pay with a credit card. If the credit card option is chosen, the customer then swipes the card into the credit card machine, just like they would with a cashier. A receipt is then printed out and the customer is done.

    This system is, obviously, located at the checkout areas of Shaw’s supermarket in my home town. This store is usually extremely crowded as it is basically the only food store we have. The idea of the system is for people with few items to quickly check themselves out. However, after observing this system many times, and for extended periods of time, I realized that it causes problems because many people with a lot of items try to use the interface, forget they have to bag the groceries themselves, and end up holding up the line behind them. If the system could be used correctly, then it would be a beneficial interface. Plus, the machine doesn’t seem to be very refined as I have watched many people receive the incorrect amount of change, or have trouble scanning a certain item, which happens often with a real cashier. As for the times that I have been able to use it without a line in front of me, it has been very convenient because it works so fast and I am able to go through a checkout faster than if I had a cashier do it for me.

    Overall this system could be very beneficial if it is used correctly and the small bugs are worked out of it. I think these types of interfaces are fast and usually easy, but when there is a problem it takes a lot of time to fix. Another problem is that these interfaces are taking the jobs of people.

  7. I chose the pay at the pump gas card system to observe. Similar to some of the suggested systems to use for this discussion, the pay at the pump system runs off of convenience for everyone who has a credit card, debit card, gas card, visa check card etc. This system allows its users the ability to save time by avoiding the walk into the store that the gas station attendents are normally located in, to pay for gas. A user has the choice of debit or credit and a reciept or no reciept. I have never tried this, nor have I witnessed anyone else trying it but I believe that some pay at the pump systems have an atm button where you can request cash back, which would be the only reason to make the trip into the store, other than using the restroom and getting snacks. It’s symple to use and if you make a mistake there’s a cancel button and I believe you can even get the gas attendents to help you fix a bad transaction that you made at the pump. The sytem normally has a small screen that lets you know when to insert and remove your card, when to select credit, debit, reciept etc. as well as when to begin pumping. If the user doesn’t react promptly then the system gives off loud beeps to get a users attention and it can even alert the in store attendents of a problem with that particular gas pump. Lastly this system allows the customer to stop pumping at the amount of their choosing but it tends to be very quick with rising to the next few cents so unlike making the trip into the store and having the pump preprogrammed, the user has to watch the price window to ensure that they know how much their card is being charged. I believe this system can be made better in regards to the user having to watch the price window. The user should be able to punch in the amount of desired gas and leave the pump unattended to use the restroom and get some snacks. This would increase the convenience of the pay at the pump system, especially for people running late to work or on a lunch break considering my own experiences.

  8. I work at the Applied Research Labs. ARL is a part of Penn State; they do research on all sorts of things. One of ARL’s largest contractors is the Department of Defense. Due to this, and ARL’s handling of secret/proprietary information, much security is implemented at ARL’s buildings. One such security measure is a keytag/keypad station at the doors.

    ARL employees are given unique keytags that must be swiped in front of a detector at the entrances to ARL’s buildings. Most employees wear their keytags around their necks with their picture IDs, so they simply hold their ID to the detector to use it. Since the keytag is not an actual card that needs to be ‘swiped’ like the PSU ID+ cards are, it is much more convenient to use, you simply wave it in front of the detector.

    Depending on which building you are at, the interface of the detector varies. The detector at the ARL Cato Park building uses a green light to indicate that the keytag swipe worked.

    Once past the keytag detector, employees must enter a number combination into number keypad in a layout similar to that of the numpad on a keyboard. Once the final digit is entered the door will unlock or remain closed depending on if the combination as correct. There is no need to press ‘enter,’ adding to the convenience.

    Using the keytag and combination at the doors becomes a second nature for the employees, very rarely have I seen someone enter their combination incorrectly (but it does happen every once in a while). The interface of both the keytag and combination machines make going through the security check much less annoying since they are designed to be easy and convenient. Not having to swipe a card, or press enter after entering a combination decreases the annoyance by a ton. Also, since everyone must be showing their picture ID at all times, there is no real hassle to get out the keytag when you approach the doors.

    Although Penn State runs both ARL and the dormitories, there is probably good reason why the dorms do not use a keytag system for entrance to the dorms (or for the cafeterias, etc). I assume that reason is money. It is cheaper to put a number on a plastic strip than to create an RDIF tag. Since it is in Penn States interest to keep its researchers happy, they are willing to spend the money for them, unlike for us silly students.

  9. I observed the swipe card machine at Heister Hall in Pollock for 30 minutes today. Through my observations I saw many positive aspects to the machine but I also noticed a few minor flaws in the system.

    The swipe card machine is a very simple device located on the side of the door that is positioned so that any person can gain access to it regardless of their height. It is also very fast and efficient. When the card is swiped through the slot the machine quickly identifies whether the owner of the card can access the door. If they gain access a green light appears on the machine, if not a red light appears. If the card was swiped incorrectly or was misread a yellow light appears telling the user to swipe again.

    As I observed roughly 25 people go in and out of the building, not one of them had a problem using the swipe machine. However, I can recall from last year when I lived in the dorms that the swipe card machine was not functioning properly. I would sometimes have to wait in the cold for 5 to 10 minutes waiting for someone to come out of the building. This happened about ten times last year. So the machines are not always 100% reliable, but they are much needed for security purposes.

    The main function of the swipe card machine is to decrease the risk of unauthorized visitors into the building. For example, Heister Hall is an all girls dorm; therefore, no men should be allowed access to it. There are obviously ways to get into the building without having a card which I observed at the dorm. I did see some guys waiting outside until a girl was leaving and opened the door, and the man walked in right after them without being accompanied by a girl living in the building. There is no easy way to monitor this action without having security guards which in my opinion is not necessary at our school. The swipe card machine just makes it a little more difficult to gain access to a building that you do not live in. I feel that the machine is most effective late at night when not many people are going in and out of the building. The most important time to make sure that everyone in the building feels safe is when they are sleeping and the swipe card machine accomplishes that goal.

    I was searching on the internet to see if there are other schools that use the swipe card system and according to this article it looks like many Universities are switching over to this type of security. The URL is http://www.kykernel.com/news/2003/10/08/News/Uk.Installs.Card.Swipes.On.Residence.Hall.Doors-686420.shtml

  10. I chose to observe the swipe card machines for the doors to the dorms here on campus. I observed the machine outside of my dorm, Mifflin Hall, which is a coed dorm located in Pollock Halls. First, I’ll describe the interface and its functions then tell about my personal observations.

    After physically viewing the interface, I looked up some more information on the details of how it works. First installed in 1989 at PSU, the interface itself is a small, rectangular box located directly next to the door at a height which is accessable for any size individual. Each dorm usually only has one card swipe machine at the main door. It is approximately 1.5 x 9.5 inches large, silver and black with three different colored lights. Green means access is granted, red means it is denied and yellow means that your card could not be read and you must swipe your card again. There are 155 door access readers in residence halls on campus which were approximately $3,000 each. When a card is swiped, the student’s information, which is stored on the card’s magnetic strip, is sent to a control box near the door. This information is converted to a data string that is then transmitted to that building’s telecommunications room. That data is then compared with each student’s unique access plan, and access is either granted or denied. If access is granted, the door is opened for approximately five seconds. The card also stores information as to which buildings students are allowed to enter at certain times. For example, students in our IST class can enter our classroom after the doors are locked to the public by swiping our cards outside the door since we’re all enrolled in the class. Each night, each individual card reader backs up the data so if the main database is down, students can still enter the buildings to which they are supposed to have access.

    I observed the card swipe machine outside of my dorm. One of the first things I noticed was that the machine is located directly next to the door, but in a small hut (approximately 4 ft wide x 5 ft long). With wind or rain, this could be a positive thing. But, I observed one occassion where a small group of kids were trying to get in and out of my building and the small hut got very crowded. Also, on move-in day or even when one is returning from a trip home, this can pose a problem if you have a lot of things to bring in the building. Not all dorms have this, but some do. Also, while the card swipe machines are supposed to keep people who are not granted access to the buildings out, they don’t always work. I observed some kids waiting outside for other people to open the door for them, which obviously meant they didn’t have a card which would grant them access. This practice, called piggybacking, is very common which somewhat defeats the purpose of providing security when entering the dorms. Also, I observed two students at separate times who seemed very frustrated with having to get their card out to enter the building because they had a lot of things in their hands. In my research, I found that Housing and Food Services personnel are now looking into using proximity technologies in which students would simply be able to wave their card in front of the reader to gain access.

    After I finished observing the card swipe machine outside of my building, I concluded that this interface is a good one. Although it may have some minor flaws, it requires complete support from its users to be sure it serves its purpose to provide security in the dorms (no piggybacking). It is reliable and easy to use which is important when the interface is being used by a large group of people at many different times of the day like this one here at Penn State.

    For the detailed information on how the card swipe machines work, I referenced this site: http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2003/02/02-04-03tdc/02-04-03dscihealth-01.asp

  11. I’m that guy you that you always get frustrated with. The guy that makes you wait that extra five minutes in line. Yes, it’s a sad to say; I am the guy at the ATM who can’t figure it out. We’ve all been there, waiting in line at the ATM. It’s moving smoothly, you’re almost at the monopoly money machine, and then the line hits me, and the line becomes rush hour traffic. I am just horrible with interfaces. Maybe it’s a lack of intelligence (probably, I know), but for some reason I always mess up somehow. When that ATM card comes shooting back at me, I can hear the tapping feet, and the almost tangible hatred from the people behind me.

    So when I was asked to watch a interface, I was not thrilled. I figured the best route for me was to find the easiest possible interface I could find. I don’t think there are many easier interfaces than the credit card swipe. I went to Wal-Mart, bought a 2 day old ‘hot’ pretzel, plopped myself down on a recycled plastic bench, and began watching people swipe and sign their credit ratings away.

    Firstly, the most common mistake at the credit card swipe machine is swiping the wrong way or having your card upside down. There’s a small picture of the correct position of your credit card but no less than 6 people mis-positioned their card, but then again, I guess that doesn’t really have too much to do with the actually interface. After swiping (and sometimes swiping again), the screen will ask want form of payment is coming from the card. Buttons appear showing a credit, and debit options. Conveniently, this is a touch screen interface, and you just have to stab the option you wish. If you were to choose credit, the computer would then ask for your signature. The problem with the signature demand is that it’s basically impossible for a man of my stature (5’ 6”) to give an accurate depiction of my signature when the touch screen is that high. It seemed to me that most people just scribbled something into the signature box. I see no reason for the signature stations being so high, I say move it down. Then it processes your request to use your credit, and prints you and receipt.

    The credit card swipe machine is an extremely user friendly interface, even for interface idiots such as myself. My only suggestions to the makers of the interface would make the picture of the correct positioning of credit card larger, lower the position of the actual machine, and somehow add some friction to the touch screen, thus getting a better more accurate signature. I know some of my suggestions might have nothing to do with the actual programming of the machine, but since the interface is already so good, it’s difficult to find other points of disagreement.

  12. On a beautiful afternoon I spent 20-30 minutes watching the users of the PNC-Bank ATM at the IST building. Students, teachers, workers and I used our bank cards at this ATM to withdraw money, deposit money, transfer money, or just to check their statement for their account. The interface is fairly simple to use but depending on the function that needs to be accomplished, there could be some difficulties.

    Difficulties can happen when a user makes assumptions of an interface based off another interface. This problem happened to me because I assumed this ATM accepts deposits but to my surprise it does not. It can only be used to withdraw money, transfer money, and view your statement. These functions can easily be done by swiping your bank card, watching the screen and pressing the appropriate buttons that are located next to the screen. The GUI interface of the ATM is easy to use; it has great color contrast (white and blue), good spacing between commands and is easily located in the middle of the screen. In the 9 people I observed using the ATM not one person seemed to have any problems using the interface but I did notice a tendency that most users looked around somewhat curiously.

    These users did not seem to be paranoid conspiracy theorists but they could be unsteady because of the environment of the ATM. They could construe the ATM as unsafe because the user is out in the open and can be seen by people far away. Even though this could be a problem the ATM is extremely convenient for all people that use the IST building for classes or just for a way over Atherton.

  13. Since I work at Sheetz, there is an ATM across the counter near the doors, pretty easy to miss even though it is a bright green color. This color choice is a greta choice since it represents M&T bank, but more importantly; money. It doesn’t get the most attention in State College, but it does have a decent number of transactions. It isn’t the best area to have one, since people seem to be uncomfortable with others walking behind them as they access their bank accounts.

    This ATM has many of the typical functions: pull money from checking and savings, pull a quick $10 or $20 by a push of the button, and a button to determine if you want to litter or not (receipt option). Something this ATM has that most don’t is an option to buy postal stamps through your bank accounts. No depositing is allowed since the ATM isn’t connected to a bank.

    After a mere 30 minutes of watching people take money out, my synopsis is that the interface probably could be better. People seem to have troubles determining which button should be pushed, and seemed to have troubles reading the screen. This could be in large part to the glare from the outside, but to me should be considered part of the interface since it influences the output on the screen and the user’s opinion of the interface. The appearance of the interface is perhaps the biggest problem that needs to be addressed. The background throughout the program is green since it is controled by M & T bank, which is a good idea on paper since the interface relates to the overall company. The part of the appearance that needs the most work is the font and layout of the interface. The font color is a bright white, which with the green background presentsa high contrast. The layout of the interface looks jumbled due to advertisements and description of button functions being too long.

    Another problem with the interface is that in the quest to satisfy everyone’s needs, M & T included too many options, again effecting the layout of the interface.

  14. It seems that no matter where you go these days there is always some kind of user interface. This is because they are everywhere, and more importantly, human computer interaction is everywhere. Whether you go to the grocery store, gas station, or bank you will be dealing with some kind of user interface. Most of the businesses today have been equipped with interfaces that are linked to a computer somewhere. Let’s face it…computers and user interfaces are a huge part of our everyday lives.

    Over the years there have been many user interfaces which were poorly designed. Poor designs in user interfaces can cause major problems, especially in today’s technologically advanced society. An example of poor interface design, outlined in lesson eight, was seen in the 1989 Kegworth airplane disaster in which forty-seven people died due to poor human computer interaction. Although every user interface may not be as important as that of a jet cockpit, errors can be still be devastating to both the user and the business. Today, it is very important to make sure that interfaces are designed to be user friendly and that they work correctly.

    This past summer I worked as a ‘maintenance guy’ at my dad’s private school. All summer myself and two other guys, fixed up the entire school; about 50 some classrooms, ten bathrooms, and six hallways had holes patched, were repainted, and had clocks, overhead screens and pencil sharpeners hung. As you can tell this was a lot of work and it obviously required a great deal of materials, such as paint supplies and concrete and sheetrock patch. The three of us spent countless hours of our time making trips to Lowe’s and The Home Depot to find and buy the supplies we needed. Most of this time however, was spent finding what we actually needed and not actually buying it. The self checkout at these stores made it easy for us to check out and get back to work. We didn’t have to wait in all the long lines.

    Looking back at this summer and reading the objective for this assignment I chose to go back to one of those familiar stores and analyze that self checkout system. The store I picked for this assignment was Lowe’s. So, I recently went to a Lowe’s store and watched as numerous people used both the self checkout and the regular old fashioned cahier.

    The user interface used at Lowe’s is easy to use and saves a lot of time at the checkout. The interface allows users to ring up their items on their own and a ‘Bleep’ sound is heard after each item is scanned. After a customer scans an item the item is displayed on the LCD screen along with the price and quantity. This prevents accidental multiple scanning of an item and the customer sees exactly what has been scanned. After scanning each item the LCD display screen prompts the customer to either put the item in the bag or skip bagging. Once the customer has finished scanning all of their items they are ready to pay.

    Paying for the items the customer has just scanned is about as easy as scanning them. When the user is done scanning items, they press a button on the LCD that says ‘Finish & Pay.’ The screen then switches to show all of the different payment methods that are accepted. At each of these self checkout machines, a customer can pay using a number of different payment methods including: credit card, corporate account, debit card, check card, check, gift certificate, cash, and several other company offered cards. All the user has to do now is touch the method in which they wish to use to pay for their items. After selecting the type of payment, the user either inserts the card into the card reader or puts cash into the machine. Once this is done, the customer pushes ‘Finish’ on the LCD screen and proper change is given (if necessary) and the receipt is printed. The user takes their receipt and bags and is now done.

    This user interface at Lowe’s is very handy for customers who don’t have very many items or need to get in and out of the store quickly. The interface is very user friendly and even displays help instructions on the LCD for the user while they are scanning items. One thing that is especially notable about this interface at Lowe’s is that customers don’t have to wait in line with all of the contractors who have large orders. I have stood in line behind some contractors before and was there awhile. But with this new checkout interface at Lowe’s, customers don’t have to wait in long lines anymore…unless it is Christmastime!!! Customers who used the machine seemed to be happier because they got to do things themselves, without worrying about slow cashiers or about mistakes being made while scanning. I did not note any problems with the interface while observing. The self checkout user interface is definitely a great addition to Lowe’s as well as the other companies

  15. Computer interfaces are used daily and are everywhere we look nowadays. The main purposes for the interfaces are to serve the user in an easy accessible way. They help quicken and ease our daily tasks in society. I had decided to focus my interface report on the PNC Bank automated teller machine (ATM) in the Waring Commons at west halls. While overlooking users interacting with the ATM for thirty minutes, several interesting observations took my eye.

    The main objective for the ATM in the west hall commons is to provide a banking service for students without the need to travel to a bank. The ATM is a convenient way to draw money quickly from your banking account. An easy understandable graphical user interface is provided with a 2 color screen that even allows those who have eye problems a sharp view. An option that is provided is your choice of language can be used if English is not your primary language.

    Difficulties were observed and were varied among the many different users experiencing the Citizens Bank ATM. Some people were in a hurry and slid their card in wrong ways and had to pay some attention to the correct way picture on the banking machine. If got frustrating to some people who took several tries before actually getting it right. Many users incorrectly pushed wrong buttons and had to restart several times. Some explanation could be how the arrows do not line perfectly up with the buttons or they are used to another ATM.

    This particular PNC Bank ATM had limited options compared to several other automated teller machines. You may withdraw money with multiples of $10 from your savings and checking account. Also you may find out your account balances, bank statements, and have the ability to transfer funds if you choose. An important option that this computer interface does not contain is the option to deposit money.

    This computer interface may not be fancy but it directly provides its function to the students that use it in the west halls. I have provided a link (http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/l/j/ljg5000/atm.htm) that shows the interface of the ATM and the options it provides to its users. The ATM was a huge breakthrough that helped limit lines at banks and revolutionized the banking systems. Computer systems and interfaces continue to play a huge role in our lives and everyday we begin to depend on these interfaces more to help our daily tasks in our lives.

  16. An interface that I see several times a week is a bar code reader at a local health club. All of the members are given a bar-coded card that can be attached to a key chain, gym bag or wherever one chooses. Upon entering the club, the members scan their membership cards in front of a card reader that is easliy accessible on the front counter. Upon reading a bar code the reader emits an audible tone that acknowledges the reading of a number. The front desk attendant can immediately see on a computer screen the members pertinent information such as: photo verification that the person that swiped the card is the actual member, if they have access to workout towels, and confirmation that the fee has been paid. During busy times of the day, such as early morning and after work when people are flocking into the gym, the speed of the system helps the attendant quickly determine who is permitted inside so that members do not have to wait in line for long periods of time while their accounts are reviewed. The computer interface is a time saving tool that lets the attendant verify membership standing quickly and accurately. I have been in some facilities where the attendant had to manually look up the members account and this computerized system is much, much faster. While I was watching some of the members going through the checkpoint, a few were stopped and questioned about their accounts not being up to date.

    I questioned the attendant about the bar code reader and how it functions. When the members swipe in, the information is displayed on the computer screen almost immediately (in about one or two seconds). If the account has a balance that is past due, an alert will be displayed on the screen in a big red block which is easy for the attendant to see and notice. At that point the member will be questioned about his/her membership status.

    The system is not set up to automatically recognize the individual so the attendant has to look at the picture on the screen to verify the identity of the individual. Since he doesn’t really have all that much to do other than hand out towels and occaisionally make a protein shake, I guess it would not be worth the added cost to install a retina or fingerprint scanner.

    Members can access to the facility as fast as they wave their cards in front of the reader (assuming they have paid their bill). The speed of the system is really a benefit to members and the establishment. People go to the gym to relieve the stress in their daily lives, they do not need any more by having to wait in line.

  17. In my observation, I used my workplace for my study. I work at a resturant and we use Aloha Tableservice system for to keep records of reciepts, sales, food orders, etc. Basically this systems runs our resturant making sure food orders are sent down to the kitchen, all our book-keeping and financial records are kept on this system also. You can look for yourself for an example at http://www.alohapos.com/public_site/product.htm

    I observation lasted my whole shift, becasue I was training someone that day, I watched how quickly she learned the machine and the process of ordering food and preparing and closing the bill. The interface is very user friendly, all prices are already set, there is a diffent button for each food type (i.e. beverages, appetizer, sandwiches, sides, pizza, etc.) which is etrememly efficient. She was able to learn the interface with ease. Also, a huge benefit with this system is that the server can focus on customer service with efficient time use of employees. The system holds all of our sales, processes credit cards, adds tax appropriately, and maintains order which is crucial especially when time is such a crucial factor in keeping business.
    The one problem I did see with the Tableservice system is that if the computer crashes, it takes a minumum of an hour to get the whole system back up and running which can be an awful situatio (one that I have personally experienced). Since you have everything on the computer system, there is no need for hard copies because everything flows off the system itself. This can be a large hassel and a big loss in employee sales and customer satisfaction.
    With all the benefits from the Aloha tableservice system, it is hard for me personally to think of having to work any other way that would be in such an efficient manner. The system is quick, easy, and economical for the resturant business.

  18. I decided to the system at my work. I work at a bar and resturant up here at State College. The system is a touch screen used for all of the fuctions of the bussiness.
    First off the touch screen is a small color screen about the size of a small computer monitor. The screen uses bright colors that are toned down a bit so they are bright enough to see, but not bright enough to ruin the mood of the place. There is more than one also, they are all over the resturant, but you can use any one of them becasue they are all the same.
    The touch screen serves many different pourposes. The first thing I do every time I go to work is walk up to the screen and punch in my employee number and clock in. As I clock in a screen pops up and I have to push what job I will be doin that day, bartending, bounceing, serving ect… The screen asks everyone this because you make different amounts of money for each type of job. The system also knows when you clock out to ask to declare tips or not depending on which job you did that night. As a bartender the system is very easy to ring up drinks, we just hit our number, the a list of mixed, beer, wine, etc.. comes up you touch one and then another list comes up with the specfic kind, push it and punch in how much the person give you and it tells you exact change. Also when a server takes a drink order, they jsut pucnch it in and the drink order is sent to the bar and the drink goes right onto the tab of the table. The system also keeps track of the bills you put in as a server, and tells you how much cash you should have at the end of the night. When you punch in a food order in the dining room, it is sent back to the kitchen, without ever having to go back to the kitchen. When workers clock out it automactically prints a recipt with their hours for the day and the total hours for that pay period, so you always know how much your working.
    As I was at work I watched everyone use the system with ease. I would have to say the only problem that I ever saw with the system was people punching in the wrong thing and then having to go through and cancell it.
    All in all the system is very well set up and everyone likes it becasue it is very simple to use. The size of the screen is good to because it is not to small, and it is also not to big.

  19. In my lifetime I have used and witnessed many others using simple computer systems to order food, buy gas, withdrawal and deposit money, and get into and out of security posts. These are daily events for each and everyone of us and they labeled as HCI’s. I personally believe the most important part of these systems is their interface design, which I believe determines the level of user satisfaction. In order to conduct my observation I watched people using a MTO at a mini-mart.
    I decided to watch people using MTO’s because I personally believe that they are one of the easiest, fastest, most convenient, and error proof HCI’s that I have experienced. Where I am from (Eagles country) we have MTO’s at Wawa’s. I like them because I don’t have to deal with the incompetent 15 year olds working the counter. I can also quickly select what I want without having to communicate it to another person. I also know that assuming the sandwich assembler is not drooling all over the place, the sandwich should be exactly what I wanted. The MTO’s at Wawa are made for placing orders mainly for sandwiches, hoagies, and the like. They are touch screens and the text is large and simplistic. The interface is straightforward with good color contrast and it doesn’t have extra graphics that would confuse the user. The screen is symmetrical and clear.
    Although up here I couldn’t watch people using an MTO at Wawa, I could at Sheetz, which is very similar. I saw people come up to the machine and rapidly enter what they wanted. The only downtime they had was waiting for the order to be made. Another exceptional quality of the MTO is that you can order what you want when you first get in the store. As soon as you finish entering your order it gives you a receipt. Then while the store employee is making your sandwich you can walk around and buy any other products that you would like. This way you don’t waste any time standing there telling the person what to put on the sandwich piece by piece, instead you can save time by getting two things done at once. I also didn’t see anybody have any problems with the machines, most seemed to be repeat users who knew exactly what they wanted. However, with the simple interface design I’m sure a new user would have no problem making an order.
    I think that MTO’s should be used at many other places including fast food restaurants where errors are constantly made probably due to the ineffective communication between drive thru windows and store employees. I think we will see more of these used in many more applications, and I will be very happy when this is the case.

  20. With so many different types of human computer interfaces, I decided to do my observation on the ATM’s outside of the PNC Bank located on College Avenue. With being a member of PNC Bank, I know that I do most of my banking at the College Avenue location because of its convenience. The location of the bank is very accessible to college kids, PSU employees, and anyone shopping or dining in the downtown area. With the new expansion of ATM’s it allows people to do their banking more quickly and efficiently than before. In order to conduct my observation properly I decided it would be best to sit across the street and watch how people interact with this type of interface.

    The main purpose of an ATM is to allow people to efficiently deposit, withdraw, or transfer their money. ATM’s help make banking simple, economical, and quick. Nowadays people don’t have time to wait in long lines at the bank, so by having ATM’s it allows most banking to be done within a user friendly interface.

    The first step in using an ATM is by inserting your ATM card into the marked slot. There are pictures and labels located on all of the ATM machines, which helps users know which way to insert their card, or where to insert their envelope for deposits, etc. Once your card is inserted the large, visible screen will prompt you to enter in your pin number on the keypad located below the screen. Having a pin number is a security feature that everyone is entitled to when you have an ATM card. Once a correct pin is entered a screen will appear that asks what you want to do: deposit, withdraw, transfer, etc. From there different screens will appear asking different questions as to what you want to do. You choose the option that you want by pressing the corresponding button, which is located on a keypad to the side of the screen. At the end of a transaction the ATM always offers the choice of making another transaction. When you’re finally done a receipt will print out with details about what the transactions did with your accounts. Using an ATM is very simple, but for people who do have trouble there was always a help option on every screen. There were also the options to choose a different language, as well as the keypad having Brail numbers on it. With so many different features the ATM interface is designed to be user friendly, which is exactly what it achieves.

    Everyone that I observed using the ATM seemed to have very little difficulty using the interface. The line that formed at one point seemed to diminish rather quickly, mainly because of how little effort it took people to use the ATM. It seemed that everyone spent only a few minutes at the ATM, which shows how quick and simple the interface is. Due to how much interaction I’ve had with ATM’s I cannot find any flaws in the system.

    Overall interfaces are made to be accessible, simple, and time saving devices. The ATM is an interface that proved to be true, making it one of the most popular and widely used interfaces. If interfaces weren’t part of our lives today I couldn’t imagine where we would be today.

  21. Human computer interaction is the very basis for communication between us as people and physical computer technology such as simple machines determining access. The most common way to grant access into a building is to swipe an identification card like the ones used at the dorms or Penn State on campus buildings, but another way to grant access is the simple telephone access code, a system that is used at many apartment buildings downtown. I decided to observe the entrance system at the Graduate, an apartment building on College Avenue.

    During the allotted time to observe, seven people entered the building using the keypad system. I observed each person punch in the three digit number, and most of them did it with ease, and no problems whatsoever. But there was one individual who was on the phone during her access, and I believe she was talking to a person in the building instructing her, because she took more time than everyone else, although this could have been do to her inability to multi-task, but women are apparently good at this, so I rejected the latter of the two conclusions and believe she was definitely attempting to gain access through talking to the person on the other line.

    The system consists of the person selecting a number off of the list that is in the window. Then pressing the number and waiting for access. In this case of Human Computer interaction, there is another human on the other end of the computer. Once the person in the room granted access, you could hear the unlocking mechanism do its business along with a tone and then the enterer would open the door.

    A problem with the security of the system is of course the fact that anyone can know a number to press, but then of course they would have to deal with someone they do not know on the other line. Although keeping individuals out of the hallway to an apartment is not entirely essential, the system fails in having very good security precautions.

  22. Interface design is a major issue when designing a system that the general public must use. The design must be simple enough for people to use on a daily basis, but must also be put together well enough to successfully complete the task that it is to do. I discovered this while observing a photo center at a local store. A photo center may seem simple, but once you watch it for a while, you begin to notice that it is not as simple as it seems.

    These photo centers allow people to print pictures off of a cd, memory card, or various other devices. They also allow the user to scan pictures to enlarge them or make changes to them. They are a good system in that not everyone has a photo studio at home where they can enlarge or print pictures on a daily basis. The system does have small flaws though.

    The main interface is usually a touch screen design. On this screen are buttons that the user touches in order to make their selection, which is usually to print a picture from cd or memory device, or to scan a picture to enlarge or make changes to. As I watched people use this interface, I noticed that some of them needed help from the person working there. Some of the instructions were unclear to people, which increased the length of time needed to print or change their pictures. Another downside to this system was the overall length of time needed to complete the task. I noticed a few people who had trouble with the various options when trying to make changes to their pictures, some instructions were unclear, causing results that were un-wanted by the user, who then had to start over and try again.

    Overall I think the idea behind the system is a good one. I think the company should have re-thought their overall design though. I have used one of these systems before, and have had a little trouble and also have gotten tired of waiting at some of them. The company implementing these systems should make the overall process a little easier for people to understand and should also look into ways of speeding up the overall process.

  23. The lines are long. Tickets could be sold out by the time you reach the front. Needless to say, you have to use the bathroom. But you can’t leave the line now…you’re tenth in line! Then what to do? Don’t panic, the movie industry has created a service that allows you to pick up ordered movie tickets from an automated ticket machine. All you need is a credit card and to know how to read (literate). It’s simple see and it takes less then 1 minute to produce results or tickets.

    Before you leave home all you have to do is go online and pay for the desired movie ticket(s) with a valid credit card. After that you’re off to the theatre. No waiting in line so walk right on by that long line and directly to the blue machine labeled “Ticket Master”. It is usually located in a reasonably noticeable corner near the ticket booths. Swipe the same credit card you used to purchase the tickets on line. A confirmation page will show up stating how many tickets you purchased along with a “print” option on the touch screen. Tap the button and watch your tickets be dispensed. The process is complete and you are on time for your viewing.

    People using this interface are usually ecstatic because it produces timely results. You’re there for less than one minute. Standing in line can take up to ten minutes. I know when I use the machine I feel more advanced…smarter as if it’s something I have access to and others don’t. Watching others produce the a similar effect. They look confident and some seem really amazed at how simple the procedure is. The Ticket Master is extremely efficient in my opinion.

  24. Yesterday, I spent 30 minutes sitting next to the Seattle’s best café over the HUB to observe the cashier helping checking out with the swipe card machine. And last year, I worked in the Seattle’s best in making beverages back at the kitchen, though, I did not deal with the swipe card machines, but the orders was instantly sent back to the kitchen computer machines.

    The descriptions for this interface is that customer line up at the HUB and place their order, and the cashier takes the order by pressing the buttons on the checkout machines, where items have been previously installed on the buttons. The order will be automatically alert back at the kitchen. Finally, cashier will swipe with PSU ID card and receipt will then be printed out.

    The functions of this swipe card machines are to deduct the lion cash or meal points from our account. This means that we have a fund that is installed inside our PSU id card’s chips, then as the card being swiped through the machines; the machines will remove the money from it. Besides, the second function of this swipe card machines is to replace the cash payment within the HUB, since the card’s fund instead of cash will be deducted, this method can eliminate the cash transaction process, and saves the people trip in making transaction back and forth to the bank. And with the swipe card system, it will increase the accuracy than cash flow. Since, there is a possibility of human error and in counting the money during the transaction process. With the swipe card, just a swipe, then all the money will go to the company’s account.

    Moreover, the social environment of the swipe card system is to improve the safety and security issue towards us. Since, when you lived inside the dorm, there is no need for you to bring cash with you; you can pay your meals with the swipe card machines, and buying snacks and beverages with your card. However, one may argue that the stolen of ID card will be anonymously used. But the advantages of ID card outweigh the bad sides. Therefore, with this swipe card system on the campus, it can improve the safety and security; since we are no longer bring any cash inside our pocket.

    My observations for the people using this system, I can see the cashier who is unfamiliar with the swipe card system, and does not know where the beverages go to which button, creates congestion; customers need to wait for a while for the order. While the experienced cashiers, who are familiar with the button, they tend to press it very quickly, and speeds up the process.

    All in all, I think that this swipe card machines is a good system on PSU campus. It beneficial in payment, and saves our time in making cash payment and also improves the safety on campus.

  25. OK, so I have worked at Autozone Inc. for the past 2 years. The greater part of my duties consisted of looking up car parts for customers. Our system of looking up parts consisted of entering the vehicle year, brand, and model, followed by name and location of the part that I’m looking for. On top of that, the main input device was a traditional PC keyboard, which fell into that whole ergonomic thing. At first, it took me about 2 months to get used to the setup. It took me about two minutes to find the right part and location and the customers got extremely mad due to the time. After I got in the swing of things, it took me no longer than 20 seconds to find the part, location, and price. Like it was stated in the readings, memory plays a key role in HCI. I knew the order of the selections and the number of the parts, which allowed me to access the needed information faster. The only time it would ever change is at the beginning of the year when new vehicles were released. I walked into an Autozone in Altoona yesterday and “browsed” around the store. While I was walking around, I was watching the employees and how long it took for them to research different items. You could definitely tell the difference between the elders and the rookies. I could tell that the elders had the part on the screen almost before the customer was done explaining what he/she needed. Basically, the Autozone HCI is simple, easy to use (we had to have experience using the keyboard prior to our hiring), and quick. I think that all in all, we had a good setup that kept us as a good competition with Advance Auto and NAPA Auto.

  26. For the past three years, I have been working at The Department of State. As most should know, this is a very high security building and inorder to get in without going through the metal detectors, being searched, signing in, and being escorted around the building, all employees are given two badges which gives them access to all parts of the building. This interface gives all employees the advantage to avoid all the hassel and confusion that those that does not have a badge go through.

    The two badges are made quite different and are used for two differnt interfaces. The first badge, has to be swipped, which then has to be recognized through the system, which then turns green and let u in one at a time. The second badge, which is the newest of the two, has a computer chip in the center of it and it has to be inserted into the interface, similar to an ATM machine and you have to insert your pin number. Although these two interfaces may seem quite easy, they can be very irritating at times.

    If you were to sit back and watch as the empoyees come into the building in the morning, you will see multiple frustration looks on some faces. As they try to enter the building, one swipe of their badge just doesn’t work. Some have to swipe multiple times, eventually letting them in and others just give up and have to walk around the entire building to the main level to the security desk so they can get in the building. The newest interface, where u have to use your pin number is somewhat better and doesn’t have as many problems as the first one, but observing them as they try to enter, one will see that people still gets a little confused. Some put the card in backwards, forget their Pin number, and the computer chip sometimes doesn’t work.

    These two interfaces which are commonly used in most government buildins have their flaws, just as any other interface such as ATM’s, and gas station but they also serve a GREAT deed and make things a lot smoother, easier, and time efficient. Without the use of these interfaces, employees would go through hell trying to gain access and it will take hours for every single employee to get checked in and sign the log to get in the building.

    As you can see interfaces are used everywhere, grocery stores, gas stations, banks, and even Federal government building, without the use of interfaces a lot of time and money would be wasted and more and more people would be frustrated and dissappoined due to the long lines and whatever else they would have to go through if interfaces were never invented.

  27. For the past three years, I have been working at The Department of State. As most should know, this is a very high security building and inorder to get in without going through the metal detectors, being searched, signing in, and being escorted around the building, all employees are given two badges which gives them access to all parts of the building. This interface gives all employees the advantage to avoid all the hassel and confusion that those that does not have a badge go through.

    The two badges are made quite different and are used for two differnt interfaces. The first badge, has to be swipped, which then has to be recognized through the system, which then turns green and let u in one at a time. The second badge, which is the newest of the two, has a computer chip in the center of it and it has to be inserted into the interface, similar to an ATM machine and you have to insert your pin number. Although these two interfaces may seem quite easy, they can be very irritating at times.

    If you were to sit back and watch as the empoyees come into the building in the morning, you will see multiple frustration looks on some faces. As they try to enter the building, one swipe of their badge just doesn’t work. Some have to swipe multiple times, eventually letting them in and others just give up and have to walk around the entire building to the main level to the security desk so they can get in the building. The newest interface, where u have to use your pin number is somewhat better and doesn’t have as many problems as the first one, but observing them as they try to enter, one will see that people still gets a little confused. Some put the card in backwards, forget their Pin number, and the computer chip sometimes doesn’t work.

    These two interfaces which are commonly used in most government buildins have their flaws, just as any other interface such as ATM’s, and gas station but they also serve a GREAT deed and make things a lot smoother, easier, and time efficient. Without the use of these interfaces, employees would go through hell trying to gain access and it will take hours for every single employee to get checked in and sign the log to get in the building.

    As you can see interfaces are used everywhere, grocery stores, gas stations, banks, and even Federal government building, without the use of interfaces a lot of time and money would be wasted and more and more people would be frustrated and dissappoined due to the long lines and whatever else they would have to go through if interfaces were never invented.

  28. The other day I got lunch over at wegman’s and decided to sit down near the check out place to watch people use the credit/debit card swipe machine. I used this machine myself to make my purchase, and found the steps to be fairly simple, but only if you have used machines like this one before.

    This machine had about a 3.5 inch LCD with a slot on the top to slide your card through. The sliding part was a piece of cake, you just had to follow the diagram to see which way the black strip was pointed — down in this case. After sliding your card, being that mine was a debit card, it automatically asks for a pin number — I don’t like using a pin number, personally, because i get charged a fee for using debit charges — So i know, through being told this in early experiences, to hit the cancel button on the bottom of the screen with the stylus pen.

    This was the biggest hold up i saw most people have. There are no directions on there telling you that you should hit cancel if you want to use credit — So most of the people i saw stopped immediately after swiping their card and just looked at the cashier utterly confused. The cashier then would explain to them what to do, something which is pretty much ruining the entire self-swipe system, and from there the purchaser had pretty much no problems.

    The next screen gave you a list of all the options to use for your card, including debit, credit, and several more options which I’ve never used nor knew what they meant. If you select debit, i assume the screen goes right back to that keypad.. I didn’t choose that, obviously, so when i hit credit, i get taken to a processing screen that just tells me to please wait.

    From there, a screen pops up and tells me to sign in the box to verify that i approved the purchase, and then hit the enter button. I did so and my receipt printed quickly and I was on my way.

    After the first step, nearly everyone flew out of there. The only thing I saw that was slowing the process down was that first screen, and then the hesitance that followed because of people looking scared to mess something else up.

    It seems to me that if they just switched the first screen you saw, the keypad, with the second screen, the list of options, ALL problems like that would be skipped, and the brief time it takes to check out with the self-swiper would take even less time.

    Overall, it’s a very very efficient system, and one of the fastest that I’ve ever used – I pretty much see these same interfaces everywhere I shop, so they are very common these days, and they all have their own little system.. Wegman’s seems to work very well except for that one little screen switch up.

  29. You can’t imagine how many looks you get staring nonchalantly at all the people who walk into your apartment. Besides the awkwardness that I undoubtedly supplied to peoples everyday activity of just going home, I noticed many interesting things as people interacted with this security interface worth noting.
    1. Every one has a different code.
    2. People don’t care if you follow them in and will hold the door open for you most of the time.
    3. People don’t see this as a security problem.
    This is a scary fact considering all of the assaults that take place on this campus. Luckily my building has an interface is also equipped with cameras.
    The way to get into my apartment complex is relatively standard. (at least from what I’ve observed in my short time living here in State College) Each room in the apartment is assigned a four digit key code initiated by the pound # sign. Mine is #8755. (Don’t steal my stuff) When a correct code is typed in the annoying buzzing sound goes off and the door opens. The device the code is entered into is a covered metal box that has a touchtone telephone like keypad. So why doesn’t every room have the same code? Well here’s where the security part of the security interface comes into play. When the door is prompted to open a camera on the ceiling catches and image of you and your corresponding door code, linking face to code. So, if something goes wrong i.e. things get stolen or vandalized the apartment that let them in can get blamed. This system is set up relatively well in my opinion but not system is perfect and certain problems can arise. In my second observation that most people don’t care if you follow them in, this can be a definite problem on many levels. First, the possibility that the person is following you back to your room to assault you is not a good one. Second, if you let someone in and they do damage to any property it’s on you because, hey, you were the one that let them in. Other than these examples this is a useful and well constructed interface which is easy to use and effective.

  30. I decided to observe the swipe machines for the entrance to certain buildings. I wanted to see how many people could swipe and enter and how many people struggled with the machine. I observed the swipe machine outside of Shunk Hall in pollock.

    The swipe is located right next to the door on the left hand side. It is just a simple swipe machine with a decription on how to swipe properly and with a red and green light. Red meaning your card did not read and green meaning your card has been accepted.

    As I watched I noticed that at least half of the people did not make it into the building with the first swipe. Many people had the card turned the wrong way and it took them a couple of tries to realize what they were doing. This machine really isn’t a hard concept to grasp so if you realize that your card didn’t work a couple of times you tried think about maybe your doing something wrong. I also noticed that some people were swiping to fast for the machine to read the card and they realized it and slowed down their swipe to gain entrance.

    This machine at Shunk Hall was easy to use for the most part, however unlike some of the other dorms this one was not handiecap accessable. As far as speed and efficency was concered I felt from observing that it is very fast and most of the time it worked on the first try. The security concerns were of none. This is what the machine is used for. To keep out people that do not belong in this building and I felt that it serves its purpose to it’s fullest because there is no getting into the building unless you have a card or someone lets you in. This product gets used many many times during a day and concidering that during my observation and my own personnal experience of using the machine it did not break and was always effective. As for users tolerance for the machine I feel that for the most part the people that I observed did not have a problem with the machine and that the tolerance level was at a low. However I’m sure that there are some people that will get frustrated with the machine if they are swiping the wrong way or too fast and in that case it’s not really the machines fault but the humans own error.

  31. Many of us take Don Wetzel’s invention for granted. Don Wetzel was a co-patentee of the automated teller machine (ATM). He thought of the idea of the ATM when he was standing in line at a Dallas bank in 1968. He wanted a system where he didn’t have to wait for other people to dispute their banking issues when all he wanted to do was make withdraw money from his account. The first ATM was not electronic like the one we know today because banking was not electronic like it is today but, the ATM has evolved.

    I had the pleasure of watching people use the triad of ATM machines at the PNC bank on College Avenue from 1205 to 1240 on 1 Nov. 04. It was very apparent why there were three ATMS side by side instead of just one. This lunch crowd obviously needed some lunch money. I believe this is one of the busiest ATM locations around.

    I did not want to get too close and impede people’s privacy but, this is what I observed. People hurried up to the machine to fumble through their wallets to find their cards. They swipe their card and enter their four digit pin. They chose which account to withdraw money from and input the amount. They then chose if they wanted a receipt or not. The users would take the cash and receipt and place them in their wallets and carry on with their day.

    I didn’t observe any users have any problems with the Graphical User Interface (GUI) of these machines. The designers had planned the system out well for people to withdraw money seamlessly without talking to a teller.

    I was surprised how openly people put their pin numbers in. I was keeping my distance from the machine but I could have very easily gotten a large percentage of the users pin’s if I had wanted to. There was one gentleman that did look around for people watching over his shoulder and specifically looked at me wondering why I had been standing there for so long.

    The machine that people take for granted has a lot of parts that most people probably never think about. The machine has to connect to other systems to alter your bank information when withdraw from your account. To the best of my knowledge this is done via dial up connection through telephone lines. The machine does take a few seconds while it does this processing which, I believe could be accelerated with the use of high speed connections.

    The ATM machine has greatly simplified withdrawing money from banks. People no longer have to enter the bank. I think I have only been in my bank twice. I didn’t even create my account at the bank. I deposit and I withdraw money all at the machine. The ATM machines have evolved both is user friendliness and in the tasks that they can perform. The ATM will undoubtedly continue to simplify banking to come.

  32. I conducted my observation at the PNC Bank ATM in Findley Commons. The interface was very simple and easy to understand. As I observed a few people make transactions they seemed to have no difficulty using the machine. There is a screen, money withdrawal dispenser, and the receipts to show the output of the machine. The number pad and the deposit drop-off box are the inputs for the user to communicate with the ATM. The screen displays the words largely and it is also bright so it is clear and legible to read from. There are 8 buttons that surround the screen and the screen will point to each button with the corresponding option. To eliminate withdrawal mistakes, after you have entered an amount to withdraw it will ask you if what you have entered is the correct amount.
    I believe this is a very convenient place to have the ATM since we live in East Halls and the HUB and downtown is quite far from East. Also the majority of residents in East are freshman who usually tend not to have cars since it’s outlawed by Penn State for freshman to have cars (Besides who wants to waste gas!). So most people wouldn’t want to walk to the HUB or take a bus all the way downtown in the cold winter freezing to death. Yes so I believe it was a smart location to put the ATM there.

  33. At one of my jobs last week, I was sure enough bored and only work there for a discount on the jeans, I realized I could watch people here for 30 minutes. I watched people use the new touch screen at Abercrombie and Fitch in the backroom. This newly installed device allows people to apply for a job, check there gift card money, and search for clothing at the store to tell them where it is. (Basically consuming half of our jobs as sales associates) While the screen seems cool and everything cause it has a screen saver of all the models that attract so many people to stare at, the machine itself seemed to have gliches as I was watching. A few times, when the gift card was inserted into the slot, it spit the card back out, saying it wasn’t a gift card. Since Id be there standing and watching, theyd ask me. After a few times, I found out that the machine is only programmed to read new gift cards amounts. Since the gift cards changed a few months when the registers did. Another problem was that a lot of people just werent understanding the machine. It seemed almost to complex for the simple things they wanted to do, such as find a sweater they saw in a magazine. The screen lays against the back wall, theres nothing there that tells the customer what it is for. Its all experimental. Many assumed that it was to check prices so girls and guys were swinging the clothes over the machine and the beeping noise was going off. Like the registers at this faboulous company this screen isnt the most reliable, it seemed to freeze or give false information around 5% of the time I was actually watching for. I felt bad for the customers cause I couldn’t explain anymore about it then what we were told in brief sentences, and it almost seemed as we were lying when the screen told them one thing and we had to tell them another. Its also really hard to hear the customers or what the screen makes as a noise cause the music is really loud. Since its farely new though, I suppose there will be time to fix its problems and make for a better touch screen that produces better results.
    Another thing I observed before I was bored at my job was the self checkout system at the grocery store. I personally think these things are GREAT. However, it seems though as when a family comes through with a lot of items, its slower to go through the machine then as for a clerk. Another problem a lot of people experinced as I watched and that I have as well, is that they scan the item and throw it on the conveyor belt to hard. Then the buzzer goes off and shows that they didn’t purchase that item, but its on the belt. Which is a good security tactic however its not always the case. The last problem I saw was that some let the belt get to crowded since they don’t have anyone to bag their stuff, so then a message comes on the screen and says something like “bag first” I couldn’t tell excatly since I was further back. So then they stop scanning and go to the bagging part. For these machines to wipe out jobs, they are suppose to save time, However it seems like the people going through regular check out whip out there faster.

  34. Alright, for my observation, I chose to wander over to a little cafe in downtown Boalsburg, Brewer’s Cafe. The cafe is a nice little place to get coffees and other tasty treats, but there is an entertainment aspect to this small town cafe, a touch screen game. Ok, if anyone knows what I am talking about, they know it’s a good time and wonderful device to waste a couple minutes, say waiting for a coffee or sandwich to munch on.
    This little game is touch interactive and has different types of games such as knowledge busters, sports games, and your other basic I-am-so-bored games. On a side note, my personal favorite is the soccer game, so fun. My friend, Garret, enjoys the basketball. Of course the game will take your basic US quarters and before you know it you will have spent many of them trying to make a new high score or just make it to the list.
    The function of the system is obviously for people to spend small amounts of money on the different addictive games. Being such a small amount to us wealthy Americans and the game being so addictive, makes us not feel bad for keeping the quarters flowing and keeping the companies pockets full. It also has a lot of different games that you can play and the interface is appealing and is easy to navigate through. This also makes the consumer want to keep playing to experience the different games available on the device. As I noticed in observation, you had your pros, the little kids that knew what they wanted and obviously had played before. These kids were trying to make a new high score for themselves and the game. These kids had probably already spent countless hours navigated through the different games and had found a game that really caught there interest and so they stuck to one game, trying to beat out the scores. Others, rookies, would come in a play a little of this and a little of that, not staying in one spot, but still dumping the cash. Let’s just say there was a lot of “Mommy, can I have a quarter!”
    The interface was made up of a starter screen that had the different types of games in blocks with cool little fonts and graphics, but with color schemes and graphics that were not to appaling to the eye. If you then clicked on a particular genre of games, you would come up to the same type screen with a more dedicated listing of games, to go along with that genre. After choosing a game, you would come up onto a interactive screen, where you could play the game by touching different objects on the screen. The one boy, played basketball and he would hit the player that he wanted to shoot the ball as the basket moved back and forth along the screen. In most of the games if you were doing well you would get specials, like in the basketball game, when he made a certain number of shots, he would get a fireball, which was worth more points. It is a very appealing and fairly realistic interface.
    The environment, was as a said, a coffee shop in a smaller town on the outskirts of State College. So, 30 minutes turned into more as the result that someone was not always playing the game, but when no one was playing, I sometime snuck in a game or two, you know for the companies sake, I know how they must be struggling. It is a warm environment and a nice place to sit down and have something to eat or drink, while endulging in the ever addictive games.
    Overall, I would have to say that the interface for this gaming device is easy to navigate through, it is appealing, and the games that back it up are fun and addictive. It is truly a money maker for whoever thought the gadget up and indeed, fun for the whole family. I did not really think it had any downfalls, some people may have seen some of the graphics going along with games and genres to be a little much, but it is game, that is the point, for it to be fun and crazy. It is a success in my eyes, as a game that is fun-fun-fun and the interface that lets you interact with the device.

  35. Instead of watching students here at Penn State use technology in their everyday lives, I decided to think back to my summer. At home, I belong to the New York Sports Club. I’m not a huge fan of public gyms because I hate getting all sweaty in front of people that I may know. So to avoid being embarrassed, I tend to use the machines located in the rear of the gym. The first time I headed in this direction, I noticed the stationary bicycles and I knew I had to get on one. I loved riding bikes when I was little and now I had the pleasure to do so without wearing one of those awkward helmets. As I hopped on the machine, I realized this wasn’t as simple as my childhood bike.

    The first time I used the bike, I sat down and started pedalling. I was startled when the machine started beeping at me. In front of me was a large LCD screen surrounded by many different buttons. The LCD screen was used to track speed, time, distance, calories/fat burned, pulse readout, and some other random facts. I also had the opportunity to pick out a workout from 8 pre-programmed workouts. I just wanted to ride my bike for 20 minutes and maybe see how many calories I burned. I wasn’t interested in trying an uphill workout or some other workout. I figured though I would give it a shot and see what happens.

    I fiddled around with the machine and had to enter in information such as my height and weight. Many times when I pressed the buttons, I felt like it did not register what I was trying to do. Maybe I was pressing the wrong button, or maybe I had to double press it? Also, I had to pick between 8 pre-programmed workouts. I didn’t understand the difference between them. There were no descriptions. You either knew of these workouts, or you didn’t. If you had no idea, like me, you just had to guess. I picked some random workout and after about 10 minutes of fiddling around with the machine, I was on my way. The machine told me my speed, distance, calories burned and some other interesting facts. I was impressed with the machines results, but I wondered if the calories burned actually included the 10 minutes I was pedalling while trying to figure out how to work the machine. I highly doubt it.

    After using the bike for the first time, I asked my mom what machines she uses in the gym. We belong to the same club and she goes twice as much as I do. When she told me she liked the bikes, I asked her if she ever had trouble using the machines. She told me at first they were a little tricky, but after a couple of times she got the hang of it and found a pre-programmed workout that she thoroughly enjoyed. The next few times I went to the gym, I used that same bike. After awhile I definitely was getting the hang of it. When using the bike, I would look around to see if people were having the same problems as I was. Some got on the machine pressed 10 different buttons and in less than one minute they were burning calories. I assumed these people had used these machines many times before. Other people sat down on the bike, started pedalling, and were as startled as I was when the machine started beeping at them. The truth is, sometimes I’ll go into the gym, look at the high-tech bikes and opt for the bikes with no buttons what-so-ever. Sometimes I just want some simplicity in this hectic life.

  36. In this fast paced world, everyone doesn’t have time anymore to wait for anything, especially when it comes to driving. Driving seems to bring out everyone’s anger and rage. I chose to make an observation of the interface of high speed paying of tolls on highways or to be more specific, E-Z pass. With the dawn of these services, people are now able to drive faster through toll booths. It creates an easier and more efficient way to pay for tolls by not requiring a driver to bring change with them every time they go driving.

    The interface is as easy to use as putting the device in the hood of your car. First, drivers buy and set up an account with the service. Then they place the device that they receive onto the windsheild or dashboard of their car. As one drives through the toll plaza, an antenna electronically reads the account information on the device. Then the toll is electronically deducted from the prepaid account that was set up.

    This creates a convenience for driving that has never been experienced before. Drivers who don’t own devices like E-Z pass must carry change, tokens, or tickets when driving. They also had to make a complete stop at the toll before driving through.

    Everyone I observe driving with E-Z pass has an easier and more convenient driving experience. Those who do not own it, seem more frustrated with having to search for change or take out their wallet before going through a toll. This interface makes automobile transportation easy, efficient, and economical.

  37. The user system that I chose to observe for about 30 minutes were the self checkout isles at one of the local grocery stores. At first I went up closer to actually take a look at the machine in itself and see how the interface is designed. As I examined the self-checkout it seemed quite too complicated. The interface allowed you to do one of two things…either you could swipe the item that you were checkingout or you could browse a picture based touch screen in order to find the exact item thay you were holding.
    As I started to search for an item off the top of my head, I struggled to find that actual item that I was searching for. I found it much more difficult than it was meant to be. And As I had known from previous interactions with the machine myself (I used to work in a Acme back home) I knew that scanning an item was not as easy as it might seem. It had taken me a few experiences to get used to scanning an item. In addition, some of the items were not even scannable so it took a long time to search for the exact item on the touch screen. The system was not very user friendly and it seemed to be much more of a hassle than actually waiting in line…especially with larger amounts of groceries.
    The environment in which the system was based is a loal grocerie store where families and students alike come to buy groceries. It was at the end of the other checkout counters…near the side door of the building. It seemed much more quiet down this end, and much darker at night. There wasn’t much commotion or talking, except during the day it was required that you check your grocerie list and items with a man waiting at the end of a few self checkout systems. He was required to make sure that all of the items on your receipt actually matched the items that you were caryying. Because without this man to play security it would be very easy to only swipe a few items, yet put much more in the very bags you were packing. The man is there because otherwise it would be very easy to steal grocieries from the store.
    As I started to view and observe some grocery shoppers attempting to do the self one during regular hours at the grocerie store. Most of the shoppers that came up to the counter seemed to be in a rush to get out of the store. Most of the shoppers had very little groceries with them came to these counters. A lot of them were mothers with children, younger students checking out, and also employees of the store. The thing that everyone seemd to have in common is that they all were annoyed when after they had finished all that checking out they were forced to stop at the end so their bags could be checked. The employees obviously knew what they were doing, so it took them very little time to figure out the most likely familiar system. However, they seemed to be the most annoyed that they had to get their bags checked after self checking. The mothers with children seemed to find it the most hard to navigate through the tocuh screens, on such items as fruit and other things that had been weighed. The younger crowd seemed to understand how to navigate the touch screen, but they found it very hard to scan an item.
    Overall, the users just did not seem to understand the system at all. It did not have many of the qualities that are important in basing a interface on…ie speed and efficiency or users patience and motivation for learning. Noone seemd to get it. It was a failed attempt at making a system where shoppers could check out faster than waiting in line. It did not appear to be a success and I certainly was not impressed even as a employee.

  38. What is the point of an interface? It’s to help facilitate a consumer or a worker in a function. I decided to view how a system is used within a fast food restaurant, McDonalds.

    They machine is a computer based flat panel screen that is connected to different parts of the store. System itself helps with daily balances of the store’s activities and also helps with a Just In Time approach of delivery. This JIT approach is an efficient strategy to connect the consumer to his or her product within a condensed amount of time. The interface itself is an object oriented interface, with a full arrange of colors appealing to the eye. Instead of words there are foods that help the worker to have a speedier response time to the customer. Also the arrangements of types of foods or drinks help in identifying the object quickly. The interface provided no degree of difficulty for the worker and after 30 minutes of watching I felt as if I could perform the job just as efficiently. The connectivity between the worker, the customer and the assembly line was all linked by this interface. Even though the customer was reciting the list of items they wished to purchase, it was as if the worker was just a medium that was assisting the casher machine/computer.

    The question of the interface and worker raised a question; was there even a need for a customer service agent in McDonalds? Companies are beginning to implement customer service computers equipped with interfaces that were customer friendly. Sheets, Giant, and several other stores allow for these types of transactions and they may or may not necessarily be faster or slower. However, overhead costs are a major part of a corporation and these machines are just a fixed cost that that don’t need 15 minute breaks every half hour. Why then can’t we make an interactive McDonalds that will be self sufficient by itself? Instead of having three customer service reps, have on virtual rep that takes voice recordings. AT&T is implementing a new technology that allows for customers to move between different customer services or even automated help just by speaking your questions. Even though it’s relatively new, how hard could it be to say #6, biggie size? But maybe the human factors are integral in the intangible ways. Society may need that smile when you first walk into the door. Humans may feel as if the CSR actually cares about what they have to order and will somehow make their food taste better since they personally ordered their food from them. Anyways, human interaction is a key component in any environment and humans don’t seem to be motivated to eat from some place that has not feeling or emotion or that warm fuzzy feeling inside when you see a manager yelling at one of the employees when he’s working to slow. Interfaces are used to facilitate humans even though the interfaces are getting even more elaborate and have actually facilitated the worker and the customer. Case in point, I believe that McDonalds is allowing the customer to see the type of interface that workers are using so that they can see if the worker is performing his/her job carefully. If you look at the height of the screen you can almost just see what he’s performing. This helps give the customer confidence and the feel of control over the CSR. Menu’s that are all over the store are identical to the ones one the screen. There is so much interaction between the customer and the CSR, and neither one knows it.

  39. Electronic systems control a vast number of things in our everyday lives. All of us interact with systems and interfaces, or at least watch others interact with them, many times each day — oftentimes without actually realizing it. Whether it be a cash register, a card swipe or an ATM, these systems save a great deal of time and energy for those operating them and in need of their services. The system that I chose to research was the “Generation Z” touch panel made-to-order system at Sheetz. This touch panel system stuck out in my mind when considering what system to observe because I had never come in contact with an ordering system as thorough and easy to use before.

    My experiences with touch panel interfaces previous to this one haven’t been particularly inspiring. The grocery store in my home town uses a touch panel screen for self-checkout, but it is cumbersome and incomplete, and typically it takes more time to successfully check out using it than it does to stand in line for a cashier–even for a small number of items. I found this was mainly due to the payment process, which required that you either insert your bills one at a time to pay, or involved trying to troubleshoot the link between the touch panel and the credit/debit card swipe which would frequently miscommunicate and force you to select your payment method again.

    Given this history with touch panels, I was wary when first encountering the MTO touch panel at Sheetz. However, I quickly realized that this was a much better system than the one at my grocery store. The interface allows one to place orders for subs, sandwiches, nachos, salads and other items in a timely and enjoyable fashion. The colors and fonts used make the display easily legible and provide a pleasant level of brightness given the well-lit atmosphere. After selecting the type of food item one wishes, another menu appears offering more specific selections. The touch panel makes it easy to indicate very clearly exactly what toppings, spreads or other sides one might want to add to their order and places a visible check-mark over whichever ones have been selected. After completing your order, the touch panel displays the total cost and asks for confirmation to avoid accidental ordering. Once confirmed, the order is sent to employees in charge of filling the orders. This leaves you free to browse the store, get a soft drink or have a conversation while your order is being made. This aspect of the MTO system really sets it apart from other businesses such as Subway where your attention is devoted to the person making your sandwich and you must dictate directions to them. The touch panel ordering system also allows the customer to browse the selections at their own pace and not feel pressured by the person behind the counter.

    Most of the customers that I observed interacting with the system seemed well-versed in its options and knew what they wanted to order, so the process went very quickly. However, even if a customer that hadn’t quite made up his or her mind yet stepped up to the interface and wanted to move at a slower pace, there were two other interfaces located nearby to accomadate other customers. During my observation period, all three panels were never occupied at once, which shows that the customers aren’t often being rushed by people behind them in line or set back by long waits. At one point, the store became slightly more crowded, and three orders were placed within a few minutes. The customers all made the most of the situation and either used their time to get a soft drink or other items from the store, and once finished, retrieved their orders at the counter and moved on to pay for them. The MTO system actually saved these customers time.

    There are drawbacks to every system, however, and though I would certainly estimate that the MTO touch panel system at Sheetz is very effective, it is no exception to this rule. Some customers may have questions or specifications about the condiments added to their orders. At Subway, for example, customers can specify exactly how much of a topping they want, and observe their order being made. If the employee does something that the customer disapproves of, they have the ability to correct the situation, whereas at Sheetz, the orders aren’t quite as visible to the customer. Some customers may also prefer to interact directly with the person assembling their meal, rather than use a screen for reasons ranging from personal preference to sanitation.

    The touch screen system at Sheetz is highly effective and judging from my observations, actually does save customers time. It’s simple for customers who are used to it to place orders quickly, and it’s very easy to grasp for first time users. Though there are some minor setbacks, such as less personal involvement with the creation of your order and a somewhat annoying sound that results from pressing a button, the system is helpful and assists customers in making the right decision and avoiding errors that occur when verbalizing what they want. The MTO system at Sheetz really reshaped my opinion of touch panel systems, and is a symbol of how technology is bettering so many aspects of our lives.

  40. Since the advent of mainstream computer technology, there have always been certain systems that have had more success then others. Perhaps the most successful system to be noted would be the ATM machine. There are, however, many flawed systems that not only fail, but as a result cause an entire investment to fail, whether that investment be a specific business division or an entire corporation (see Boston Market). While the system I am about to describe and explain has, in many cases, not had as severe an effect on business as the infamous Boston Market system, it has certainly caused many headaches among those who have to use it on an everyday basis. This system is the grocery store automated check out line. The automated check out line at Giant supermarket is not only very confusing, but also unreliable and frustrating to operate because of an interface and software that do not seem to work well together. The automated check out center at Giant is a system that if monitored and handled correctly, can be one that is both convenient AND cost effective. However, the shortcomings of the system hold it back from achieving both objectives.
    A good interface design takes into account the best and easiest way to accomplish the goals of convenience and utility in one fell swoop. It does this by making sure the system is targeted and molded toward the most likely users of the system. For this, the super market’s system is not flawed. It also is structured very well so that people with little computer knowledge can adapt easily and quickly. As far as the interface visually, screen balance and screen symmetry are flawless. There aren’t too many colors and, overall, the system looks and feels right. However, the problems turn up when reliability comes into play. As I watched endless streams of people use the machines and from my own personal experience, I noticed one thing: The machine overcompensates for security at the expense of speed and reliability. Whenever someone would scan a product and place it into a full bag, they would invariably have to take the bag and put it into their cart. Whenever someone would do this, the system would pause and say that the consumer had to wait for a cashier to come over. This happens EVERYTIME you take a full bag and put it into the cart. There naturally is no other place you would put a full bag, so this naturally caused delays and tons of aggravation for the people waiting in line.
    The systems MENU DRIVEN interaction style is one that is fairly obvious and neccessary. It takes instructions fairly well and seems to respond in an adequate manner.
    The most important shortcoming of the system was the lack of testing on the prototype system. This is merely speculation, but with a system that doesn’t seem to know how to handle the most elementary part of grocery shopping, taking the groceries home, it would seem logical to assume. Its also fairly clear that there wasn’t an adequate amount of usability testing done. As I watched the line fluctuate, it seemed that system was fairly equipped to handle light to medium traffic, but once the line got 4 of 5 people deep, it seemed like the “security” problems that were hampering the system became the focal point. With only attendant tending to four automatic check out machines and with the same problem happening on everyone, the attendant had to call for extra help.
    The system is one that if set up and used properly, does an excellent job of making sure that people get in and out quickly, but when minor oversites are ignored or go unfixed, it leads to the problems they were experiencing in the super market. Anyone that has ever used these machines knows that when changing bags, the machine will tell you that you “please put your item in the bag.” This message, which continues to repeat itself until a cashier sees that its a glitch, is hampering a system that has incredible potential. While it seems like I’m “beating a dead horse” it is entirely evident that this minor glitch has caused stores like Kmart to introduce these systems only to have to completely shut them down weeks later. Once the manufacturers of the interface perfect their system, then it will be shown that a system like this can work, but until then the famous cliche of “Don’t judge a book by its cover” holds true. Just because a system and interface make you think it works flawlessly, what you see is not always you get.

  41. The coolest interface I think is the Speedpass used at gas stations. I have never used it personally but lucky for me I stood in a gas station and watched people swipe these amazing cards instead of using cash. Now the Speedpass links directly to your credit card so you never have to go inside the gas station and you can use your cash for snacks instead. Each gas company is creating there own Speedpass and calling it something different so to make it easy I will just call it Speedpass.

    This is an amazing interface because it’s so easy. You have a little keychain thing that says Speedpass and you wave it in front of a screen and it goes directly to your credit card. When you are on long trips no one really wants to walk all the way inside the gas station to pay for gas so Speedpass is a great invention. These Speedpass screens are located right next to the pump so there very easy to use.

    The Speedpass looks something like:
    It is a small object that looks somewhat like a laser pointer.

    The amazing part about this interface is that you can use this at any gas station as long as it’s the same company. I always hate carrying cash to gas stations just because it’s a hassle so if something was on my key chain it would make everything a lot simpler.

    The observations of people I watched actually took the Speedpass for granted almost. I really do not think that they could go back to cash. Also a bad thing about Speedpass is teenagers use Speedpass and really don’t have the true meaning of money. They just connect it straight to there parents credit card so they never really know the true feeling of paying for there own gas. I watched a couple of my friends go and I could tell they really didn’t understand that gas costs a lot now because it all goes to there parents.

  42. The interfaces used at restaurants to send food/drink orders to the kitchen are used quite frequently. I have worked at a T.G.I. Fridays for almost 2 years and have seen this kind of system is use. The system includes a couple of touch screen monitors on the floor of the restaurant and then monitors in the kitchen. Each touch screen allows users to punch in/out, enter food orders, and swipe a credit card. Many different screens make up each system. The main screen has the menu divided into subcategories. Once a subcategory is pressed, such as chicken, all of the dishes that have chicken in them will pop up. Once you select the correct entrée, you are allowed to type in any special requests that a customer might want such as no onions or no cheese. Any substitutions can be made in the system. Once the placement of the order is completed, it is sent to the monitors in the kitchen, received in the order in which they were placed, allowing them to know what needs to be made and in what order.

    The interface will be difficult to get acclimated to for new users. As stated above, the menu is divided into subcategories. The new user needs to learn where each and every item from the menu is in the system. This can prove to be tricky for new servers. Once the system is learned, the user can quickly and painlessly punch through the screens to input the order under a minute. This system then allows servers to have extra time.

    The system is highly functional for a restaurant. It allows servers to quickly maneuver through the system so that the order gets placed almost instantaneously. This allows the server to spend more time taking care of their customers or completing other tasks around the restaurant. Restaurants can be extremely hectic and chaotic. The system allows users to get things done quickly and provide efficient use of the servers’ and cooks’ time. In a fast paced restaurant, servers do not have extra time to spend on the input of orders or drinks. Servers constantly need to check with their customers to see if they are in need of anything and perform other duties. It provides less interaction between servers and cooks and should reduce errors in food preparation.

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