The control panels in this Russian nuclear power plant look like something out of the 60s, but it was built in the 1990s. Why so little computer interface? It's probably a budgetary issue, but, at Fast Company Design, John Pavlus wonders whether there's a bigger lesson we can learn.
But what about all those clunky, straight-outta-Star-Trek knobs and lights -- what if they're a safety feature, too?
Well, here's the thing, as Christopher Mims at Technology Review brilliantly points out: touch is a powerful, powerful thing. And not the sterile, featureless version that passes for "touch" on your iPad. I'm talking about the physical, primal, ultra-high-res sensorium that you experience from interacting with everyday objects in the real world. Our brains and hands evolved they way they did for a reason, and virtual displays and interfaces simply don't "click" with the kind of infomation-processing we've evolved to do so well. Deep, spatial sense-memory—"colored THING in THAT location that feels like THIS and STAYS there"—is how our savannah-dwelling ancestors navigated their environment and avoided getting killed, and it's still true today.
There's more photos of the power plant at Fast Company Design.
Via Mark Changizi!
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.