How a Human Being can derive benefit by improving the usability of a product - Assignment Example

In this essay an attempt has been made to understand how a Human Being can derive benefit by improving the usability of a product. The usability of a product can be either increase by adding some more features or just by improving the design of the product. This essay also explains the importance of “Human Factor” in improving the design or usability of the product.

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In this essay I have tried to evaluate, ATM (Automated Teller Machines), by keeping the concept of “Human Factors” in mind. Initially the essay tells us about the history of ATMs. Then I have discussed about the various features of the ATM which can improvised to make an ATM suitable for mass audience.

By discussing the various features and the possible alterations to improve its usability, the essay provides us with special feature which can be incorporated to enhance its usability. Finally a conclusion describes us an ATM which can be called as next-generation ATMs.


Happy Birthday. This phrase has a significant meaning in everybody’s life. It can be a birthday of a person or it can be a birthday of a thing. On 20th September 1968 the idea was born to invent an ATM. And on June 17th 1969 DocuTel Company sold the first modern day ATM to New York based Chemical Bank.

Don Wetzel was the engineer who was stuck with the idea of creating an ATM while standing in line at a teller’s window.

Functioning of an ATM is very simple. It works as an input and output device. We can see in figure (next page) that an ATM is connected to a host computer through a telephone line. This host computer is a gateway through which all other ATM networks become available to the cardholder. This host computer can be connected either through leased line or dial up machine. Leased line ATMs are preferred in the areas where there is high traffic of transaction. Otherwise most of the places we can find dial up ATMs because the cost of installation and its running cost are very low as compared to leased line ATM. This host processor or computer can be owned by bank, financial institute or by independent service provider.

How secure is an ATM.

ATM user shows a great deal of trust in device they know very little about. They surrender personal banking information to a machine, and trust that the machine will accurately keep records of their activity. But it is fact that ATM’s are much secured.

The safety begins right from the beginning. At the time to install the ATM the “master key” is divided and distributed among 2 or 3 technicians. After modem is install each technicians enters his portion of key separately. The ATM then automatically decodes the master key through a complex algorithm called DES.

Now if the technicians exchange their codes with each other, they still cannot do anything. Once contacted by the ATM’s new modem, the host recognizes the master key as one coming from a terminal requesting access to the network. The host is programmed to then generate and send back a new master key to which no human has access. From that point, that ATM and that host will communicate only by exchange of that second master key until a new one is issued. The new key could be issued as soon as the next transaction.

ATM is very secured from inside also because ATM modems and motherboard who does all the processing is designed in such a way that if anyone tries to remove it improperly then it wont work. The coding done on the motherboard is tamperproof.

The only risk in using an ATM is from the inside it from the outside world.

After we have gain information about ATMs, now the question arise that are these ATMs fulfilling the complete requirement of a person? Are they perfectly designed? Can we make some changes in it so that its usability can be increased?

To answer all these queries, the role of “Human Factor” comes into the picture.

By term Human Factor we mean ” to discover and applies information about human behavior, abilities, limitation ,and other characteristics to the design of machines, system, task, jobs, and environment for productive, safe, comfortable, and effective human use”(By Chapanis, 1985).

Human factor is a discipline that tries to optimize the relationship between people and machine. It takes into the consideration of all the aspects of a machine to improve its usability and in tern making it more comfortable to use.


Imagine some emergency turns up and you need money urgently. You park your car and run towards the ATM and after reaching there you realize that you have forgotten your card at home. You are helpless.

Imagine how difficult will it be for a blind person to withdraw money from ATM

Imagine the level of difficulty face by a person who is sitting on a wheel chair.

Imagine that you are a Chinese and have come to England for the first time. You don’t know how to read and write English. You cannot withdraw money.

There can be many situations when a person can be helpless or may land up in problem because of bad design and incomplete usability of the ATM’s.

To begin with one the most common problem faced by most of the people is that they are psychologically afraid while withdrawing money. Before entering the pin number they make it sure that nobody is near them. They try to conceal the machine in such a way that nobody can see them what they entering. Another common thing which we can see is that the moment machine gives out the cash; the person quickly puts all the money into pocket. This shows that person is psychologically afraid that somebody might steal the money.

This is because of poor design of ATMs. If these ATMs are inside a cabin like structure then we can easily overcome these two problems. Windows of such a cabin should be complete black so that nobody can see inside. A person who goes in will very relaxed while entering the pin and also while keeping the money in the wallet.

One of the major issues with the ATMs is that they are not suitable for disable people. According to facts and figures given Disability Discrimination Act of UK there are “8.7 million people disable in UK .About 1.2 million people are registered as blind and 11 million are partially sighted. 97% of people over 65 wear glasses”.

The answer to these problems can be “Talking ATMs”. Talking ATMs can be very useful for the people who are blind or are partially sighted. These ATMs are equipped with audio jacks and headphones. They provide with audio instruction for transaction of cash or balance enquiries, transfers or payments and deposits. The customer can listen to these instructions and work accordingly.