ideation


GPS’s are making it into everything: cars; phones; boats – how about Laser Detectors?

I was in a cab recently on the way to the airport and my cabbie had a laser detector. A very annoying laser detector that went off at each major intersection – and there are a lot between my house and O’Hare.

It was 4 in the morning so I’m surprised I came up with this idea, but I thought about it and realized that if you could link a GPS to the laser detector it could start to “learn”. You could tell it when you knew that there was a bank with a security alarm that set it off – and maybe also tell it where you knew there were “speed traps”.

I’m sure this is illegal in many places (for sure in Virginia), but I share this with you anyway. Feel free to run with the idea – just give me credit.

I recently rented a Suzuki Verona – overall a very nice car. Very powerful, nice and roomy, but [and there has to be a but or it wouldn't be in this blog] there is a fairly big usability issue with the stick shift (automatic drive).

It was easy enough to shift into Reverse, and then into Drive, however, in order to go back to Reverse or to Park you had to push down on the stick. It took me quite a while to figure this out because the directions weren’t clear either.

Take a look at these images:
full view of automatic shift control Close-up of directions for using shift control

Changing the description to “Push down on Shift stick to shift from N to R” instead of “Push down select lever to shift from N to R” might help. However, making a stick shift more like the industry standard would be even better.

I’ve been renting a lot of cars lately for work and pleasure and I still find that there are so many usability issues with them that it is embarrassing.

Take for example the new Chevy Malibu “Classic” – different than the Maxx. I drove it this past weekend and there are some fairly major usability issues:

  • the doors have to be slammed shut – difficult when you arms are full
  • the trunk won’t close every time even when it is slammed – damn annoying
  • the drivers cup holder only holds one size drink and is bottom-less, so unless you happened to pick up the correct size you are out of luck

These may seem like little things, but they could be big ones. For instance I’m pretty sure I left one of the doors ajar all night – that could have been bad. I might have tried to put a hot cup of coffee in my drink holder while driving – very bad.

These are pretty obvious to someone just using it for a 3 day weekend. Simple to find just by observing users, having participants journal or by doing a usability test.

I hope the next version of this car is better and that they spend some time with people who drive cars.