Tag Archives: interaction design

Flawed systems and forgetting keys

Generic photo of keys. You've seen one bunch, you've seen 'em all. Every time I return to the house, I place my keys in a designated zone. Every time I leave the house, I pick up my keys and check that I’m carrying my wallet, keys and phone using the ‘three pocket pat down’.  I’ve been doing this for many years, in many houses. But this year, my system has repeatedly failed me and I’ve locked myself out on several occasions. It’s a new trend and it’s very annoying.

But I’m convinced it’s a flaw in my system that can be iterated out.

First iteration

Incident: I discover during my pat down that I am lacking keys AND phone. Sadly, I have already shut the door behind me.

Problem: Right system, wrong place. Pat down occurs too close to door. Normal motion carries me out the door before I have confirmed I am carrying keys.

Reason previously avoided: In previous accommodation, key zone was located in bedroom, not hallway. Pat down occurred on way to front door, not during exit.

Solution: Move key zone further away from door.

Second Iteration

Incident:  I grabbed my thumb drive from the key zone – and left my keys behind.

Problem: Right place, wrong item. Too many items can be stored in the key zone.

Reason previously avoided: Key zone was a table too small to store other items. New key zone is on a low boy, which has other items on it.

Solution: Redefine key zone boundary – a bowl on the low boy, rather than an area.

Third Iteration

Incident: During my pat down, I mistook my car key for my house keys, and believing myself to be carrying my house key, I left. 

Problem: Car key and house keys have a similar weight/tactile feel through clothing layers.

Reason previously avoided: car keys and house keys were on same key ring.

Solution: add distinctive item to car key ring.

So there you have it folks. For me, keys need to be stored in a small, distinctive location not too close to the door and have distinctive key rings. Fingers crossed I’ve designed out getting locked out!

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