UX Australia 2009

Flying high: User experiences on the Qantas A380

Lisa Herrod

In 2005 Qantas had ordered its first three Airbus A380′s and engaged a team of designers to develop the in flight entertainment (IFE) system for the aircraft.

Lisa Herrod was engaged independently of the design team to develop a usability evaluation plan and to conduct the user research for the entire cabin. This comprised economy and business cabins, the first class suites designed by Marc Newson, and the crew panel and PDA. Interactions were evaluated for both touch screen and hand controls, as well as screen size, distance from seat to screen and suite controls for first class passengers. The IFE was developed in Flash, and reflects the technical limitations of the aircraft and the software capabilities of the time.

Fast forward three years to 2008 where Qantas received its first delivery of the Airbus A380. In the time between designing the IFE to receiving delivery of this cutting edge aircraft, Apple had released two unique touch screen devices that have changed the way users now expect to interact with touch screen applications. Apple’s iPod Touch and iPhone present an incredibly different interaction model to that of the Foxtel ITV menu, upon which the A380′s IFE menu is based.

This presentation will provide an in-depth case study of the user research conducted, successes and failures of the system,as well as observations made recently, in flight aboard the A380. Looking to more current technology such as the Touch and iPhone, we’ll briefly discuss how the user experience could be improved in 2009.

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