Studies or other info on LEDs?

11 Nov 2005 - 1:40pm
8 years ago
5 replies
467 reads
Ted Booth
2004

Does anyone know of any studies, reviews or other insightful thinking
on the role, purposes and functions of LEDs on mobile computing types
of products?

We're in the midst of defining a new standard for the use of LEDs on
our entire product line, mostly mobile computers and wireless
networking gear. Some of our mobile computers can have as many as four
different wireless radios (cell phone, wi-fi, GPS, and Bluetooth) as
well as other capabilities such as bar code scanning, RFID readers,
etc. If each and every one of these features had their own LED, the
products would start to look like a disco ball of blinking green, red
and other colored lights.

In general, we're aiming for a minimal use of LEDs. However, we also
want to make the best use of them as we can. Any tips would be much
appreciated.

Comments

11 Nov 2005 - 2:10pm
Gerard Torenvliet
2004

Ted Booth wrote:
> In general, we're aiming for a minimal use of LEDs. However, we also
> want to make the best use of them as we can. Any tips would be much
> appreciated.
>
Ted,

Note that using bi- (or tri-) colour LEDs means that you'll only be
coding on a single dimension - colour. If your user base includes
colour-blind people (which it probably does), LED's used this way can be
extremely problematic. Most importantly, in the most common form of
colour-blindness, red and green appear exactly the same. Since red and
green generally mean very different things, this can be a big problem!

-Gerard

11 Nov 2005 - 2:23pm
Adi Tedjasaputra
2004

Hi Ted,
Instead of looking into features (feature-centred), you may want to look
into some activity patterns, such as: "receiving signal", "writing
data", etc .
In addition, you may also want to play with LED blink interval and
colour combination to achieve a minimal use of LEDs for those activities.
Cheers,
adi

Ted Booth wrote:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>Does anyone know of any studies, reviews or other insightful thinking
>on the role, purposes and functions of LEDs on mobile computing types
>of products?
>
>We're in the midst of defining a new standard for the use of LEDs on
>our entire product line, mostly mobile computers and wireless
>networking gear. Some of our mobile computers can have as many as four
>different wireless radios (cell phone, wi-fi, GPS, and Bluetooth) as
>well as other capabilities such as bar code scanning, RFID readers,
>etc. If each and every one of these features had their own LED, the
>products would start to look like a disco ball of blinking green, red
>and other colored lights.
>
>In general, we're aiming for a minimal use of LEDs. However, we also
>want to make the best use of them as we can. Any tips would be much
>appreciated.
>
>
--
Adi B. Tedjasaputra

IT and User Experience Manager
TRANSLATE-EASY
:: RFID and Human-centred Design Innovation Centre in Asia ::
http://TRANSLATE-EASY.com

13 Nov 2005 - 5:03pm
Ted Booth
2004

Thanks for the feedback. We are already working with color and blink
rate.

The decisions we're wrestling with have more to do with what
information do we communicate via the LED and at what point do we force
the user to look at the screen.

For example, a blinking green LED is commonly used on cell phone
devices to indicate that the device is connected to the network. When
the same LED blinks red, that often means there's new message. If the
user wants to know the strength of the network connection, they have to
look at the screen. We could try to communicate connection strength via
the LED by alternating light intensity and blink interval, but this
level of subtlety in the LED behavior seems overly complex. Moreover,
users seem to be mostly interested in knowing at-a-glance that they
have network connection - the strength of it, while important, is not a
high level need.

In general, we know LEDs are good for quick, at-a-glance interactions
and for showing general status (on/off, connected/not connected,
transmitting data/not transmitting, etc). I was wondering if any one
had plumbed the depths of how far a design team could go with LEDs -
and still have a useful, usable design - at least on mobile computers.
Questions like: How many LEDs are too many? How much information can an
LED communicate? At what point do users prefer to go to the screen?
etc.

We have general principles (5 +/- 2, etc), and industry best
practices/standards (green=good, red=alert, etc) but we were wondering
if we could find more in-depth information.

Thanks again,

Ted

On Nov 11, 2005, at 2:23 PM, Adi Tedjasaputra wrote:
> Hi Ted,
> Instead of looking into features (feature-centred), you may want to
> look into some activity patterns, such as: "receiving signal",
> "writing data", etc .
> In addition, you may also want to play with LED blink interval and
> colour combination to achieve a minimal use of LEDs for those
> activities.
> Cheers,
> adi

On Nov 11, 2005, at 2:10 PM, Gerard Torenvliet wrote:
> Ted,
>
> Note that using bi- (or tri-) colour LEDs means that you'll only be
> coding on a single dimension - colour. If your user base includes
> colour-blind people (which it probably does), LED's used this way can
> be extremely problematic. Most importantly, in the most common form of
> colour-blindness, red and green appear exactly the same. Since red
> and green generally mean very different things, this can be a big
> problem!
>
> -Gerard

> Ted Booth wrote:
>
>> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
>> material.]
>>
>> Does anyone know of any studies, reviews or other insightful thinking
>> on the role, purposes and functions of LEDs on mobile computing types
>> of products?
>>
>> We're in the midst of defining a new standard for the use of LEDs on
>> our entire product line, mostly mobile computers and wireless
>> networking gear. Some of our mobile computers can have as many as
>> four different wireless radios (cell phone, wi-fi, GPS, and
>> Bluetooth) as well as other capabilities such as bar code scanning,
>> RFID readers, etc. If each and every one of these features had their
>> own LED, the products would start to look like a disco ball of
>> blinking green, red and other colored lights.
>>
>> In general, we're aiming for a minimal use of LEDs. However, we also
>> want to make the best use of them as we can. Any tips would be much
>> appreciated.

13 Nov 2005 - 2:58pm
bryan.haggerty ...
2005

Ted,
When I was doing research at my university's HCI Lab my advisor had
worked on investigating how to encode information with LEDs (pixels).
The main focus was on security of information but you might find some
of it helpful.

http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/tarase/

These papers may be the closet to what you're looking for:
"What Can You Say With Three Pixels?"
"User Customization of Three-Pixel Displays"

Bryan Haggerty

On Nov 11, 2005, at 1:40 PM, Ted Booth wrote:

> Does anyone know of any studies, reviews or other insightful thinking
> on the role, purposes and functions of LEDs on mobile computing types
> of products?

13 Nov 2005 - 6:47pm
Adi Tedjasaputra
2004

"...Each product uses only the indicators that make sense for that
product’s service model..."

Check out these:

http://www.vita.com/vso/vso200205/presentations/13-VITA40Presentation3.pdf
http://eetd.lbl.gov/Controls/publications/1621Note.pdf
http://www.safetycenter.navy.mil/instructions/osh/MILSTD1472F.pdf

and a reference from one of the notes:
Boff, KR and Lincoln, JE 1988 Engineering Data Compendium: Human
Perception and Performance, Section 1.704,
pp 332-333. AAMRL, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH

cheers :-)
adi

Ted Booth wrote:

> In general, we know LEDs are good for quick, at-a-glance interactions
> and for showing general status (on/off, connected/not connected,
> transmitting data/not transmitting, etc). I was wondering if any one
> had plumbed the depths of how far a design team could go with LEDs -
> and still have a useful, usable design - at least on mobile computers.
> Questions like: How many LEDs are too many? How much information can
> an LED communicate? At what point do users prefer to go to the screen?
> etc.
>
> We have general principles (5 +/- 2, etc), and industry best
> practices/standards (green=good, red=alert, etc) but we were wondering
> if we could find more in-depth information.
>
--
Adi B. Tedjasaputra

IT and User Experience Manager
TRANSLATE-EASY
:: RFID and Human-centred Design Innovation Centre in Asia ::
http://TRANSLATE-EASY.com

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