St. God’s: Unscannable Panic

During Joe’s consultation with Dr. Lexus, all the clues he has been stumbling past finally begin to sink in. When Dr. Lexus asks him to pay the bill, and—thinking Joe is mentally challenged—instructs him to put his tattoo up to the OmniBro payment system, he realizes that Joe has no barcode on his wrist.

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The doctor is absolutely terrified of this. He can barely conceive it. “Why come you don’t have a tattoo?” [sic] “You’re not unscannable, are you‽…You’re unscannable!!” In a panic he reaches out to his treatment panel and smashes the lower-left hand icon, shouting, “UNSCANNABLE!!” This causes a klaxon to sound and red beacon light to blink. Joe realizes he can’t stay and flees.

The panel

Dr. Lexus has a 3×4 mini-panel similar to Biggiez’ intake interface. It gets only a blurry half a second of screen time, but through the annoying power of screengrab, I can see that they’re a subset of the graphics from the intake interface.

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Artists’ janky interpretation

Too bad. It was an opportunity for more hilarity, perhaps something similar to Dr. Lexus’ moronic ramblings. Think buttons for Kick Ass, Sound like a Dick, and Fucked Up. (Serious props to Jason Long for pulling these lines off so hilariously.) But let’s instead talk about mashing buttons.

Avoiding accidental activation

We want to ensure that a doctor only presses this high-cost button deliberately, but it still has to be easy to press. The classic CTRL-ALT-DELETE key chord is an example of deliberateness. It was designed to be very difficult to press accidentally. A gas station shut-off emergency shut off is an example of an emergency button that is easy to find and press.

Dr. Lexus’ panic button is the opposite of this: A high-cost button that looks like and sits adjacent to all these other presumably low-cost buttons, and even sits in one of the easiest-to-hit areas, requiring some of the least precision. The risk of accidental activation seems very high. Don’t do this.

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On the other hand, it’s possible that the keyboard is aware of Dr. Lexus’ emotional state, either from lots of context cues, or the strength of his mashing, or the fact that he’s touching four buttons at once.

Affective input

Smashing is its own kind of input—it’s different than the deliberate key presses of ordinary use. It means that either the user is in some intense emotional state (angry, panicked, or…a joyful toddler, maybe?) or not actually trying to provide input, just manipulating the interface (say, picking up the keyboard to move it.) These are events which designers can consider and design for. A real world example is the mobile version of Google Maps, shake it and it presumes that you are angry and asks you for feedback.

So it’s possible—if you want to give interfaces in the Idiocracy more credit than is justifiable given the idiocracy—that the panel is detecting the fast, hard, mashing of multiple keys, and registering that as a distress call. Long-time readers may recall Zorg mashing his desktop keypad in a panic as he chokes on a cherry pit in The Fifth Element. Perhaps this interface can sit alongside it as a possible opposite.

Triple your resistance to the Idiocracy (today)

Straight from DSCC: The last FEC deadline before Election Day is in just two days. That means the final decisions are being made right now about where to allocate resources for the last weeks before November’s elections.

It also means that the final ad buys of the midterm elections are being made—and we need to make sure sane candidates have the resources they need to get their message out. Enter the DSCC.

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They have a $300,000 goal, and only have until Wednesday at midnight to hit it. If you make a donation, it will be TRIPLE-MATCHED to give candidates what they need to flip the Senate and put some necessary counterbalance to the insanity coming from the executive branch.

St. God’s: Intake

In their forecasting workshops, the Institute for the Future trains practitioners to sensitize themselves to “signals,” something that may seem banal but on reflection foretells great change or deep meaning. That story about the arctic penguins who accepted a furry remote controlled camera as a chick is one of mine. Still wrestling with its implications. This interface is another.

After Joe walks past the FloorMaster and Insurance Slot Machines, he finally makes it up to the triage desk. It’s labeled CHECK-IN, and the sign devotes a large portion of its space to advertising. He speaks to the employee there, named Biggiez, who blankly listens to him talk about how he’s feeling. As he talks, she looks down at a wide panel of buttons, floating her pointing finger above the unlabeled icons that kind-of describe common ailments.

When Joe says, “I don’t even know where I am,” she finally pushes an icon featuring a stick figure, shrugging, with two question marks floating in the space beside its sad face. In response, it lights up, we hear a ding, and a SMARTSPEEK device on Biggiez’ blouse says, “Please proceed to the diagnostic area on the right…and have a healthy day.” Joe moves on to the diagnosis bay, which I’ll discuss in the next post.

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A shout-out to these icons

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