After another work-week with a dizzying amount of overtime, its a good opportunity to think back to a weekend trip not so long ago. There, I discovered this nice little table lamp which provided some illumination to the room I was staying in.
The obvious main question I had about the lamp was how to actually turn it on or off. In North America such lamps typically possess some sort of knob or small bolt near the socket of the light bulb which has to be either rotated or pushed in order to turn a lamp on or off. Most of the time this means you will have to fumble around for a while because your view is blocked by the lamp’s shade, therefore always making you fear that you might touch the light bulb and burn yourself or that the entire lamp might fall off the table.
This lamp however had no apparent knob and while I was continuing my search for it, the lamp suddenly turned on. It turned out that the only thing I had to do in order to turn on the lamp was to simply touch the lamp’s base anywhere on its shiny green surface. Touch the base a second time and it would turn off again. This design might not provide for the best discoverability or affordance but pretty much anyone – people with motor impairments included – should be able to perform the task. So, overall, I find it a great example of good usability in a commodity object.
Now if only more lamps in North America would be made this way, I could finally stop fearing to tip over lamps when searching for the switch in the middle of the night…