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Lighting : April 2010 Whos Who of Lighting
36 LIGHTING MAGAZINE | April/May 2010 TECHNICAL FEATURE as documented by Moore, Carter and Slater (2003). Consequently, personalised control of lighting with haptic interfaces emerges as a distinct field of activity in the design of user controlled interactive electric lighting. Issues and aims While in theory there is a general agreement about the benefits of personalised controls, practice demonstrates difficulty in embracing and consistently using them. Winchip states that sometimes an expensive, well-planned lighting control system may be turned off, or users do not know how to use it (2005). This statement is well supported by the finding made by Moore, Carter and Slater that dissatisfaction where it occurs, arises as a result of controls perceived as being unusable (2004). Additionally, an earlier study carried out by Moore, Carter and Slater, reveals that end-users use controls in the way they find easiest, but not necessarily in the manner intended, or technologically desirable (2002). Therefore the interaction between end-users and lighting control systems, and the failure to deal with their usability in a coherent fashion, emerges as an overriding issue. These factors seem most responsible for the present under-utilisation and lack of understanding of lighting control systems. The complexity of modern control interfaces is cited as one of the reasons for the reduced acceptability and usability of lighting control systems (Escuyer and Fontoynont 2001). Interestingly, this complexity of interfaces can be related to the verdict that users perceive an interface as “not very tangible” and insignificant if these are not expressive (Hornecker and Buur 2006). Expressiveness in the context of this research means legibility of interfaces to communicate the right action for the lighting control functions. Now by ‘putting the pieces together,’ the conjecture of this research is that ‘intangible’ lighting control interfaces are responsible for end-users taking few initiatives in understanding the lighting control functions; this in turn undermines and under- exploits the lighting control systems’ true benefits, and hinders end-user interaction with the lit space. In the realm of interaction design, the 3D-ness or material qualities of the representations of functions is essential for the ‘interface domain’ in order to make tangibility salient to the overall use process (Hornecker and Buur 2006). This means that lighting control interfaces should have a seamless integration of the physical representations of lighting control functions with their subsequent physical control. The term “tangible user interface” was coined by Ullmer and Ishii to describe the abacus as a “compelling prototypical example” for this seamless integration of representation and control: the abacus beads, rods, and frame simultaneously serve as manipulable physical representations of numerical values and operations, and as physical controls for directly manipulating their underlying associations (2001). Presumably, this signifies that tangible user interfaces can be a mode of responding to the “implied challenge” as indicated by Howlett, “of producing lighting systems with which users have a desire to interact” (2001). A tangible user interface can therefore offer the mediating control for end-user interaction with the lit space. Recent advances in technology have introduced haptic digital interfaces like control panels and remote controls, empowering users to access-and-control lighting systems in novel ways. While the description of these new interfaces usually should include evaluation of their efficiency and accuracy, little work, if any, has been done to evaluate their interactivity and usability. Formal user evaluations are needed to demonstrate the interactivity and usability of these interfaces: to validate not only that the interface can efficiently and accurately represent lighting control functions, but that end-users can use the corresponding new interfaces to efficiently and accurately select their desired lighting scenarios. Thus, the crux of dealing with the current situation lies in developing conceptual frameworks that unpack why tangible user interfaces will work well for end-users in the personal control of lighting. Equally there is a need for principled approaches supporting research dealing with the real needs of end-users for the control of lighting; most in situ studies are concerned only with energy savings, as noted by Escuyer and Fontoynont (2001). And in meeting these needs, this research explores a method for the systematic understanding and documentation of end-user opinions about existing interfaces by proposing a framework that evaluates their interactivity and usability. The documented results are intended to bring about corrective measures to these interfaces and/or suggest better ideas for future designs. Methodology The methodology began with an understanding of the basic control functions to be performed by control systems for personalised control and the interfaces available for performing them. Once these were identified, the second stage was to identify and list the difficulties faced by end-users while using these interfaces. With the problems identified, the third stage was to develop a framework to analyse the interactivity and usability of these interfaces. The fourth and final stage comprised of a survey with existing interfaces, where potential end-users were asked to use different manual devices for controlling lighting, and rate them according to the framework parameters. ... THERE IS A NEED FOR PRINCIPLED APPROACHES SUPPORTING RESEARCH DEALING WITH THE REAL NEEDS OF END-USERS FOR THE CONTROL OF LIGHTING ... ➤ THE COMPLEXITY OF MODERN CONTROL INTERFACES IS CITED AS ONE OF THE REASONS FOR THE REDUCED ACCEPTABILITY AND USABILITY OF LIGHTING CONTROL SYSTEMS.
Whos Who of Lighting 2009
April May 2011