Widgets Magazine

Control Systems/Exceptional Experience

 Steve Greenblatt of Controls Concepts on creating the right interface for user and the system
Programmers, Put on Your Driving Caps
Following up on recent AVNation podcasts discussions, I want to shed some light on the notion of delivering an exceptional experience from the perspective of a control system solutions provider.
The charge put out by InfoComm to deliver these exceptional experiences is a tall order, but not something foreign to control system solutions providers like us. In fact, it is a critical part of what we do because the control system is the driving force of the user experience; it’s how the user knows, operates and interacts with the system. If the system doesn’t respond from the start in the manner the user needs and expects, then it may never be used or appreciated to its fullest extent.
Time after time, I see integrated audiovisual systems judged by the control system, and this is rightfully so. From a user’s perspective, the interaction with the control system is the basis for judging and appreciating the system itself. To gain a positive outcome, the programmer’s goal is to create a simple and understandable user interface. But most importantly, and you can’t forget this piece, the control system needs to provide consistent and predictable operation.
When we are able to create a comfortable interaction with the user and make complex device communication, automation, and controls seamless and unintimidating, the control system sets the tone for creating an exceptional user experience.
If any of these objectives is not met, the user’s confidence in the system decreases and their apprehension increases. The user assumes poor system performance, whether or not the system is capable of delivering more.
All in all, if users are not getting the comfort and capability they want from the start, they never get to approach the level of exceptional experience.
Blame it on the Control System
The control system is an easy scapegoat as the cause for any perceived malfunctions. When a button is pressed and the user doesn’t get the desired outcome, the blame rests on the control system first, even though there are many potential causes for the error.
Anything from device performance, wiring, misaligned expectations, and user error could be the culprit. But the user interacts with the control system making it an easy target for blame when they don’t get what they want.
Programming around the Roadblocks
Designers and integrators look to programming as the solution to attain the desired outcome by programming around shortcomings in devices or systems to get to the outcome they want.
In a similar vein, control system programming is often thought of as a kind of elixir for any device, design, or operational deficiency. When a device does not perform as expected, when it doesn’t have a desired feedback, response time, or native function, designers and integrators rely upon control system programmers to get around the road block.
The Control System Drives the Exceptional Experience
In the end, when it comes to most integrated systems users, the control system is the vehicle for delivering the exceptional experience. Control system programming is the fuel. And the control system solutions provider is the driver getting you where you need to go, no matter the curves, roadblocks or new lanes.
Photo used under Creative Commons licence  via Poe Tatum https://www.flickr.com/photos/poetatum/

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