Natural User Interface

London Underground Station Management Design

Part of the NUI for the London Underground Station at Euston.
Part of the NUI for the London Underground Station at Euston.

This is the design of the touch screen based system that is in use at London Underground stations managed by Tube Lines Ltd which includes the Jubilee Line, the Northern Line, and the Piccadilly Line stations. It controls all aspects of the public announcement and CCTV system.

It suffers from some of the limitations of the software’s development environment, but the map based navigation and asset selection system was  a leap forward from the user unfriendly, list based options that were previously available. Of course, lists were still a user option, but I often glance through the window at Euston where I can see the system in action, and it is usually the map view on display. In fact, I have never noticed the list view as I pass.

Docklands Light Railway Announcement Management System Concept

When working for Telent, I provided some conceptual designs for modifying a proposed touch screen interface being designed by one of our potential partners; ASL-Control, who had no experience in developing similar application interfaces, where I had designed similar interfaces for our London Underground project for several years.

Much of the design was delivered to me, and I provided some map based alternatives within the dynamic space, using assets supplied by ASL. Each piece was made in isolation, so there are issues of “visual noise” that would have needed addressing on top of the poor ordering and sorting of the existing design.

DLR Design 1

This was one of the two design options submitted according to the requirements of the project. There were significant problems caused by the station selection buttons, which were cluttered, illogically ordered, and visually unpleasant.

The DLR Map was an active selectable area, where touching a screen would select it. Unfortunately, the spec was for a static image, with the feedback being displayed in the buttons on the bottom. This obviously caused some issues with information being separated from the action, and these issues were compounded by illogical ordering of the buttons.

The supplied buttons were also unsuitable for touch screen environments, being too small and too closely grouped for reliable error-free selection.

DLR Design 2

The second option suffered the same problems due to the inherent usability issues of the station selection buttons, but
provided a better idea of the station location.  It lost zone indications, but the specification did not call for zones to be indicated, and there was no option to select by zone, so the loss of the zone indication was somewhat mitigated. However, the usability issues remained the same.

Removal of the station selection buttons significantly improved the user experience, reducing the visual noise of the buttons, and providing a cleaner workspace, but increased the development requirements, as the map could no longer be static, and would require the selection feedback to be indicated within the graphic which would now need to be dynamic. This was the preferred design, but development limitations meant that this option was not considered the forerunner for implementation.

DLR Design 3

Ultimately the project went nowhere, but their iVENCS system shows many of the design concepts and philosophies that I championed whilst at Telent, including 3D display, map based asset selection, and camera field of view display.

UX Research and Design consultancy

%d bloggers like this: