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Backlighting, schmacklighting...

Posted by Angie Hartline on

“Is this thing on?” “What function is working?” “I pushed the button, did anything happen?” These are questions that companies never want their end users to be asking while using their interface. Intuitive and user friendly are two things product designers strive for. User experience is everything to the customer – it can be the difference between a good product and a great one! Designers can turn to backlighting as a simple solution to creating a great user experience.

Backlighting is a term used for incorporating a light source (fiber optics, LEDs, light guides, etc.) behind the graphic overlay to indicate the current machine engine_checkfunction. You’ve seen it before; you push the red power button and it turns green to indicate the machine is now on. Or in your car on the dashboard, when your
check engine light goes on. Incorporate backlighting into the design of a machine so the user knows the status.

We all learned at a very young age that colors are used to signify various things, there is no exception to that with machines either – red often signifies the power button is off and green is on, orange is idle, and flashing red means there’s a problem. Multicolor backlighting can be used on machines to help the user know what the machine is doing or even what button to push next. Backlighting can be a critical feature for many machines in just about any industry: medical, industrial, lab equipment, even consumer products.

backlight exampleEnd users should be able to dedicate their attention to the task at hand, not the equipment they are using.

Take the medical industry for instance, when using a medical device, knowing the current machine function could be a matter of life and death. Multicolor backlighting can indicate machine status and drive ease of use for quick glance action.

For data collection and vitals monitoring, a key icon can toggle between green and yellow to show it is monitoring for data, or full glow amber to highlight a nurse call button and flashing if it is in call mode.

With backlighting, it is possible to show relative status or operation sequence simply at a glance and drive the user to the button responsible for action. So any way you color it, interface to end user just got better!

Is your backlighting intuitive? Our expert design engineers are here to help!