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13. Prototyping of TV Remote Control Panel


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What Constitutes A Control Panel?


Parts of a product that user interacts with to perform a task constitutes the user interface (UI). A systematic and effective arrangement of user controls and displays of a product makes the control panel. Control panel can also be used to configure product’s internal features.



Control panel of electronic equipment comprises of elements like LEDs, displays, lamps, switches, meters, push buttons, dial knobs, fuses, printed instructions, labels, name plate etc. In software products the graphical user interface (GUI) forms the control panel.


The interaction between user and control panel elements need not always be physical. Panel elements like visual displays and audio signals also form a part of user interaction and communication. This applies in case of airplane where entire cockpit constitutes the control panel environment. Cockpit control panel design (both aircraft and space craft) is most challenging design tasks.


Consumer products too have control panel or interface. The interface designer of a domestic appliance needs to simplify operations to perform complex tasks. This can make wide spectrum of users use the domestic appliance with ease without much technical knowhow about the product itself. A microwave oven needs careful design of its controls. Any confusion in its operation can result in serious accidents. The buttons on the keypad of a TV remote control, mobile phone or a portable music player are so small that they are difficult to use or are not used eventually by the users.


Therefore designing of control panel is a creative but technically demanding effort that aims at efficient and aesthetically satisfying human product interaction.


Control panel elements are classified into following categories :


      1. Activation :  for activating a operation  e.g.  switches, push buttons

      2. Discrete :  for setting fixed operational values or inputs e.g. a rotary dial

      3. Continuous:  for varying continues values e.g. dials , slider switches , volume knob

      4. Rapid : for inputing data rapidly  e.g. data entry buttons on a keyboard



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