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"Flick to tv" represents everything wrong with product design today (fuckjetpacks.com)
84 points by blasdel on Sept 3, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments

3 years ago, I made a prototype for LG of a social remote control. It allowed anyone in the room with a web browser (including smart phones) to send videos to the tv. It was great for group tv watching, since it gives everyone the ability to search simultaneously for a video, instead of instructing the one guy with the remote where to go.

Anyway, LG wasnt interested until I made a super gimmicky way of sending videos to the tv instead of using a button. You held your phone up to the tv, and it would transfer.

Concept Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETRwc7B_NNc

This limited it to apps instead of web browsers and was less reliable. But it was slightly cooler than pressing a button.

It distracted them from the whole point of my idea though. They just wanted a cool remote control they could sell with their tvs.

Why not start with the really awesome remote control - and move toward your final idea?

Selling a specialized device for tv watching undermines the purpose of my social remote idea. Your friends wont have one, so they can't participate as easily as they could if it was a webapp.

I suppose you could buy 4 of them, like I (an only child) did with Nintendo 64 controllers so that my friends could always play.

Most gesture controls fit in this category of jetpack design, too.

The ipad app switching/closing/task bar gestures are pretty natural though. See them once and they are unforgettable.

actually I totally agree - I meant 3d gestures with hands in space, not multitouch.

What is this referring to? Is there an actual product that allows you to flick to TV and provides no other UI for that functionality?

Not sure how this relates to the real world experience, but there's a Samsung Phone TV ad that shows a businessman flicking his presentation onto the conference screen.

Samsung has two commercials airing currently with new forms of interaction ... might be the Galaxy S3 (I'm not sure). One example shows the user dismissing a call by speaking to the phone while a call is coming in. The other commercial shows that you can take a screen-shot by waving your hand over the device whenever - kind of ironic since screenshots from Android devices was always a pain back when I owned one.

Maybe they both work flawlessly - I don't know, but both seem like they could easily misfire when you intended to do something completely different with your device.

I have an S3, and the screenshot thing is actually very neat and handy. It is a bit wonky when you try to capture apps with scrollable windows, but it never misfires. You have to basically press the side of your palm on the screen and move it from left to right.

The author should really let the reader know what this is in response to. Having never seen the ad nor heard of "Flick to TV" makes and otherwise good article kind of hard to relate to.

He is simply listing the challenges any designer would face to make a simple yet obvious feature that just works. It is NOT describing a reason to "go back to buttons" or do something in the traditional way. This is where home electronics need to go - where you can interact with them directly instead through some button interface. If I direct my phone at the TV, both the phone and the TV should know that this is happening and depending on context, do something or offer a choice. Another example is touching your phone to your computer, etc.

The challenge, apart from making the design intuitive, is for the devices that take part in this form of interaction to understand the intent of the user.

What is wrong with having the user say what they want? My microwave doesn't popup open the door and grab what I am holding whenever I pass food in front of it, and that is fine.

If the gesture is intuitive and simple, it can be much more efficient than a button and reduce cognitive load by eliminating symbolic abstraction.

A great example is browsing in Safari. Scrolling, zooming, and going back/forward with gestures is far more efficient than explicitly pressing buttons to do the same actions.

Solution: Let these interface gimmicks be the stuff of tech conventions and demos, and never part of any mass-produced product.

But maybe some marketing folks, seeing the success of Apple, have reasoned that these gimmicks can sell products in the short-term, at least until consumers discover the problems with them.

At the end of this era of tapping and rubbing little screens with our fat, dirty fingers, we may be reminded why we had tactile interfaces to begin with. What ever happened to the PDA stylus?

Constantly fumbling with; forgetting or losing the PDA stylus – happened to the PDA stylus.

The other thing removing the stylus did was force the software to go in a completely different direction.

With a fat finger, the ui can't look and work the same as mouse driven ui as it could with a stylus.

It takes two hands to hold a device and a stylus.

I think this is important, and the other important factor is that removing the stylus and reattaching it adds at least 3-4 seconds to an interaction with one's phone. My interactions with my phone today are often under 10 seconds which means that a stylus would add 30-40% friction to those interactions.

>What ever happened to the PDA stylus?

The market despised the stylus. I tried setting up a wireless office using tablets. No one would use the stylus and actually tried using their fingers.

Great little post and totally true. Related, the Airplay implementation is a good example of restraint in interaction design. Airfoil does much more, but it isn't as natural or easy to grok as Apple's implementation.

People always use the example of all cars having the same basic controls when they are talking about patents. But they normally forget to mention that there was a lot of experimentation with different control layouts and systems before a default was established. It took decades (I think) but that's how good ideas can come to the front.

Experimentation in the marketplace is not a sin. Sometimes designers cannot figure out the best solutions before shipping.

I think you always need a phase of experimenting new ideas before people find out what works and what doesn't. Ideally, those failed experiments would stay in-house and never reach the market, but it's not always easy to know which ideas are good...

So anyway, since you never know what might eventually come out of it, I'm personally grateful for the existence of "flick to tv" gimmicks.

As long as I don't have to use them myself, of course.

Blogger team needs to read this article and rethink their "flick to change article" UX travesty.

Just because you need to a higher learning curve, doesn't mean it's wrong.

I'm struck by the negativity of the post. While the arguments listed are valid user interface design points, the "flick to TV" just works (assuming you have the right hardware), and it's pretty simple. If you wanted to get everything correct, you'd probably end up with a more normal user interface with buttons and whatnot, plus you'd spend more time developing it to get it right according to how you're supposed to be doing it.

Instead, they went out and developed a neat little feature that yes, has its problems, but it works and it's a little more innovative than a button-based interface.

Unless you're busy making or avoiding patents, I'd argue that the innovativeness of a feature shouldn't be a factor unless it works better than the normal solution.

>Instead, they went out and developed a neat little feature that yes, has its problems, but it works and it's a little more innovative than a button-based interface.

Have the read the article? The problem is that it doesn't work, for many cases where a button would.

It's innovation in superficial design only, not in functional design.

The last sentence absolutely says it all. Great post.

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