Icons and symbols are everywhere and if you have a laptop computer the chances are you know by sight which button will increase the volume of the sound, and the brightness of your screen. And you probably know, or can guess, what these mean.
Interactive medical devices also use icons to tell the user which button to press or let them know what the machine is doing. Some of these icons aren’t as obvious as others and people might have to learn to recognise them. If you’d never seen it before the symbol for ‘pause’ might not seem obvious. Similarly if you don’t use a particular type of drug infusion pump it might not be clear that this is the button you’d press to find out what the pump’s current infusion status is:
Which icons are the best at helping busy doctors and nurses to interact with medical devices quickly, and safely?
This is one of the things that projects like CHI+MED are interested in – the layout of interactive keypads and the information displayed on them, but also how changes in the design can make the likelihood of error more, or less, likely.
Introducing Icon Do Better – for iPhone and iPad
CHI+MED has a new game for iPhone and iPad (free from the Apple store) called Icon Do Better. It lets players match and stack a variety of icons, including some you’d find in medicine, to clear the screen. Players are also asked to create icons of their own to share – these will be shown to other players as part of their game.
“The challenge is to clear your screen by stacking matching sets of icons, the twist is that to delete them you need to contribute the design for a new matching icon, so every person playing worldwide is making and matching icons with you.”
While it’s a fun game we also want to see what features of the icons are easy to recognise and match. According to Prof Peter McOwan, one of the people on CHI+MED who’s involved in the app’s development:
“Gamification and crowdsourcing are increasingly being used to help solve difficult problems. With this app, not only do we have a fantastic game, but also a novel way to collect information on how players match and create their new icons, the results of which could help make the icons on future device interfaces easier for humans to understand.”
The app has been created by Ed Burton and Hamit Soyel from Queen Mary University of London’s QApps team, with support from CHI+MED’s internal public engagement fund.
Have a look at the short demo video
Icon do better – exploring emergent property of exchanging symbols Creative Applications Network (21 July 2014)