Biglight's World Usability Day Competition


At Biglight we're celebrating World Usability Day with a competition to highlight some of the best examples of innovative usability that the team have come across in the past 12 months. 

The competition is to name one piece of innovation that has made their life a whole lot easier in the last 12 months. It could be some big technological advancement or a tiny gadget. The key to winning the prize is that they give great rationale, and also maybe attach some cool pictures/videos too.

These are the 3 questions the team will answer for their entry:

  • 1. What is it, that's made your life so much easier? 
  • 2. What real-world usability issue did it solve?
  • 3. Why has it made such a difference?

The entries will be posted and then the winners decided by vote

Entry 1. A microwavable sterilising baby bottle

What real-world usability issue did it solve?

Space and convenience

Living in a one bedroom flat, space is at a premium. We don’t have the biggest kitchen workspace and half of it was previously taken up by a large sterilisation unit for bottles. This bottle means we add a small amount of water to the bottle, put it together and after 3 minutes in the microwave it is sterilised. No need for a larger now obsolete contraption. 

Why has it made such a difference?

My little girl was not previously bottle fed, but now she is on solid foods we are weaning her with a bottle. Therefore the necessity for lots of sterilised bottles has increased as well as the need for more space to prepare all her meals.

Entry 2. keyholder carabiner bottle opener

It's a small multi-functions key holder I attach into my jean pocket. The great thing it enables me is to make it really quick to have access to my most used items (key, usb drive, fob) and it also opens beer at any time.

What real-world usability issue did it solve?

It's a hassle to take the key out from the pocket, take the usb stick out of the wallet, find out bottle opener... and the more things I carry the more annoying it gets.

This little gadget remove friction to access to my daily items without taking space additional space. It is invisible to most people, but when needed, it is here to help.

Why has it made such a difference?

Usually most gadget used implies adding "One more thing to do". Contactless payment makes me worried about security, wearables need frequent battery recharging, etc.

But this one, although making a tiny difference, is making it every day, without fail and without adding hassle. That is why I nominated this tiny gadget. 

Entry 3. Skype

I had a thought and even though there’s some cool innovations out there I think the one that made a use different in my life is Skype.

What real-world usability issue did it solve?

Being from an island which is miles and miles away from here, Skype enabled me to keep in touch with my whole family. Hearing their voices is one thing but being able to see them made such a different.

Why has it made such a difference?

At a digital age where unfortunately older people like my grandparents didn’t get the chance to discover all the new technologies, I even managed to teach them how to use Skype (this might be the only thing they know to use on a computer!) 

I know can see them during birthday parties, family reunions or even a short catch-up on Sundays. It might sound obvious but when you leave your country the thing you miss the most is your family!

Skype came at a time where network providers were charging extra for international calls. After spending hundreds on telephone bills, I can guarantee that Skype did make a massive change to my bank account 

Entry 4. Contactless

Not having to queue up to top up my oyster which quite often made me miss my train. My train comes every 30 minutes so missing a train is a total nightmare.

What real-world usability issue did it solve?

No need to top up oyster and not having to enter my PIN all the time making the process a lot faster.

Why has it made such a difference?

As a full time worker I use the train and buy breakfast/lunch at least 5 times a week and everything needs to be quick. Contactless has definitely changed made things convenient and faster.

Entry 5. Google Maps

What real-world usability issue did it solve?


Why has it made such a difference?

Google maps is free, easy to use and has an comprehensive interface (this is especially useful for people like me with no sense of direction whatsoever). The service is very responsive to your movement which is great when exploring new areas. This tool has made my life much easier since moving to London.

Entry 6. Audio message function in Whatsapp

Basically you don’t need to type up text and send text, you can record your voice your send it.

What real-world usability issue did it solve?

It helps when both of your hands are busy, you can only use one finger to hold the button and record your voice, the message would be sent automatically when your finger release the button. It helps when you have something that’s hard to be explained through text, you can easily leave a audio message to your friend to explain things. Most importantly, the audio message just looks like a message (a short bar), you just need to touch it to play the voice. Very very easy and convenient.

Why has it made such a difference?

It made the conversation more easier. Users don’t need to only rely on traditional text message. It helps save time. Imagine if you need to say something complex and long, you need to take long time to type up the words, and make sure the grammar and spelling are correct.

Entry 7. Uber

What real-world usability issue did it solve?

Hailing/calling a taxi, the journey itself, payments and everything in between.

Why has it made such a difference?

When you’ve missed the last tube, your night bus options won’t get you home til 3am (and you’ll probably fall asleep on one of them, too), your only sensible option is to get a cab. Before Uber, you could either stand on the curb – usually a few beers worse off and beginning to worry about getting up for work in the morning – exposed to the elements and attempt to flag down every black cab that drives past (most of the time just receiving a scornful look from the passengers in the back who you couldn’t quite make out), or call ‘Phone-a-Cab’, ‘Dial-a-Cab’ or some local alternative, then wait for 20minutes for it to arrive. When you get home, you have to fumble around for the right money in the dark, or worse you realise you don’t have any cash and, because your driver doesn’t accept card payments, need him to take you round to a cash machine.

All in all, getting a taxi isn’t a pleasant experience. You’re at the mercy of an expensive artificial monopoly who know just as well as you do that you’re only in their cab because of the lack of an alternative.

Uber took this customer dissatisfaction and provided a modern, slick alternative that saved both time and money. Integrated with Google maps, at the touch of a button you not only get an accurate arrival time but you can see your driver twisting and turning towards your set meeting point. If you want to, you can check their average rating and the car they’ll be driving. Usually within 5 minutes you’re sitting in the back of a very clean, good-sized car on your way home. Once you’re there, the app charges your card and sends you an email receipt. If you’re travelling with friends you can split the fare with just another tap of a screen. Polite behaviour (both from the customer and the driver) is rewarded by means of a compulsory rating system.

What Uber did was to look at the taxi experience, the layers involved in the transaction and the negative aspects, and remove almost all of them. They didn’t settle for just, say, making all their cars clean, or making card-payments guaranteed with no excuses. They fixed everything that was wrong with the customer experience and as a result, what makes a traditional taxi journey a chore is exactly what makes an Uber journey – dare I say it – enjoyable.

Entry 8. Pantsocks Toaster

What real-world usability issue did it solve?

You need garlic to make a casserole, and all you have is some pants and socks

Why has it made such a difference?

Just put the pants and socks into the pantsocks toaster, close the lid, and in seconds you’ll have juicy, fresh garlic cloves

Entry 9. The air tip from Rossignol (Skis)

The air tip from Rossignol. An ABS resin, moulded into a honeycomb pattern which creates a torsionally rigid and ultra-light frame for the tips and tails of freeride powder skis.

What real-world usability issue did it solve?

Over the last few years as powder skis got wider, they became increasingly difficult to manage to the point where only experts could really handle them properly. Great for all of us who’ve been skiing since we were kids but not so great for intermediates who want to get into powder skiing.

Why has it made such a difference?

Rossi put this technology into the tip and tail of their 7 series skis, which also employ 5 point geometry (essentially shortening the effective length of the skis). This creates a ski that is very nimble, very light and also has a very low swing weight. This translates into skis that are very easy to manage in soft snow as you can turn them on a dime (due to the low swing weight and shirt effective edge) and dump speed if you feel like you’re getting out of control which inspires huge confidence in intermediate to lower advanced skiers. It’s not just for intermediates though, the burlier skis in the 7 range are great for upper advanced and expert skiers as the technology allows for a broader range of creativity. Basically it with make you improve no matter who you are.

The first iterations of the 7 series came out in 2013, but last year the updated version took home 23 industry awards and has been the number one selling ski across all categories since.

Entry 10. Whatsapp

What real-world usability issue did it solve?

It brought all my friends, family and relatives around the world to be connected 24hrs under one roof. They all are just a click away. Sharing videos and pictures is very easy. Apart from messages I can also make free calls to any one in the world.

Why has it made such a difference?

I love to keep in touch with most of my family and friends who are scattered all over the globe on regular basis. Prior to WhatsApp I used to spend a lot of money on international calls and messages. Now WhatsApp made all communication at free of cost and with good ease of use on so many devices allows me to reach my contacts easily.

Entry 11. EasyJet App boarding passes

What real-world usability issue did it solve?

Not having to print out my boarding passes or check-in online and all I have to do is show my app it is fantastic and has change my life forever. 

Why has it made such a difference?

I will never ever have to print out the boarding pass and worry about where I've put it again :)

Entry 12. Single wheel electric scooter

My new single wheel electric scooter is absolutely outstanding! 

  • I get to places faster on 1 wheel, rather than having to ride a huge heavy bike!
  • Saves me enormous amounts of travel expenses
  • This scooter can be carried in hand!
  • I beat traffic, whilst all these delays on the roads take place with cars and delays on train – my one wheel scooter has no traffic!
  • Allows you to DANCE while getting to your destination!!!
  • Fantastic balance usability
  • FUN

How this item has made my life easier is I get to places that I want much faster! This item is so cool and trendy I can dance with it, it makes me happy. I don’t have to panic on queues and delays on bus and trains as it has a max speed of 23km so I can gurantee how long my journey will take. The most significant benefit is I can carry it like a plastic in one hand as it is very light in weight!

I know this is amazing right. Yes I have one :)

What real-world usability issue did it solve?

It solves having to use crowded buses, and trains. There is so much congestion everyday however if people used this electric one wheel scooter more often. Hey! The delays will be significantly reduced. It costs less than a car and a monthly zone 1-4 pass on the underground and overall it helps get you to places quicker, its fun, its dynamic and DIFFERENT.

Why has it made such a difference?

I bet you can answer this question without me having to say one more word!