ISU World Usability Day Challenge 2010

Every year, the Iowa State University's HCI Program sponsors a design challenge for World Usability day. 

  • $250 prize for best execution of a paper or digital prototype
  • $250 prize for best interface design 

Submissions took the form of 3-minute-or-less youtube videos that members of the ISU community created and uploaded. 

The design challenge was unveiled Friday, November 12, 2010 during the World Usability Day Lecture by Stephen Gilbert, Associate Director of VRAC and HCI. You can watch the lecture here (the last 5-10 min discuss the Design Challenge). 

Browse the Design Entries below and decide which design team you'd want, and which machine would give you the best experience. 


-- Fri, Nov 12: Contest challenge unveiled

-- Wed, Nov 17 by 5pm CT: Submit URL of video  

-- Fri Nov 19 by 11:30 am CT: Vote on best prototype and best design

-- Fri Nov 19 by 1pm: Winners announced; prizes available

Macchiato's Coffee, Inc, a luxury coffee brand with a well-known worldwide franchise is having booming sales and would like to expand its distribution while maintaining its high-end brand. To do so they are creating speciality coffee vending machines which can make any of its drinks on the menu fresh to order. While the engineering team is fitted with the task of designing a robotic barista vending machine, your team has been given the task of designing the user interface. The interface must allow the customer to order any drink that they wish, along with any personal customized extras, just as they would face-to-face in a coffee house. The interface will be a color touchscreen located on the vending machine.  

The Design Challenge is to create a prototype (paper or digital) of the interface that this vending machine will use. 

Design Constraints: 

 - Maximum touchscreen size: 10" tall by 8" wide

 - Minimum Button size: .5" by .5"

 - Buttons must be at least .75" apart, center to center

 - Vending machine can have Internet access if desired

 - The interface must support ordering all of the products on the menu below. (Click it to enlarge.) Any coffee may be ordered in Tall, Grande, and Venti sizes.

Additional hardware / features can be added to the vending machine if desired for your interface, but the emphasis is on the drink-ordering interface. You don't get points for robotic skin-covered hands that wave and hand you your coffee, etc.  Similarly, you don't need to worry about how people will pay for the drinks, but if you want to include that, feel free. 

How to Submit Your Design

Your submission should consist of a video, no more than three minutes, that you upload to Don't worry about the production quality, focus rather on the content that you are conveying. Your video should include: 1) your design rational, 2) a general explanation of how the user can select the different types and sizes of drinks, and 3) a demonstration in addition to the explanation you need to walk through the process of ordering the following two drinks.

  • Drink 1: Iced venti white chocolate mocha with an extra shot of espresso.
  • Drink 2: Grande cafe latte with soy milk, 2 extra shots of espresso, and caramel flavoring.

Once your video is on, email the URL of the youtube video to karpinsn.submissions [at] with the subject line "ISU World Usability Day 2010". Your video will then be embedded in a webpage of everyone's videos, and that URL will be distributed for voting. Be sure to give your video an evocative title.

External Sites