A few years ago, at Cincinnati/Norther Kentucky airport restroom, I saw a sign above the wash basins that read something like this – “The faucet may not operate if your clothes are dark colored”. This was a classic example of a designer hellbent on incorporating the sensor technology into a product without thinking about the end user. If you wore dark clothes and wanted to wash your hands, you were out of luck! Fortunately, those faucets are gone now.
Another bad design
In my office, the faucets in the restroom dispense water if you place your hands below them, which is fine if you want the water to flow for about 10 seconds after which the faucet shuts off. It intelligently assumes that nobody needs water flowing for more than 10 seconds. You have to wave your hands again to get the water flowing again. Or, as someone told me, you can tap the top of the faucets to get water. There is absolutely no way for anyone to figure out that tapping the faucet can get you water! An absence of signifiers.
The faucets look elegant; however, there is no way to control the temperature of water. If you want cold water or hot water, you are out of luck! The same faucets on the first floor restroom dispense almost hot water. And there is no way to reduce the flow of hot water or control the temperature of water.
I see a great design of faucets in my gym. The faucets look beautiful with the sensor clearly visible at the front so I know where I should place my hands. There is small lever to control the flow of hot water. The water keeps flowing as long as you need it. Simple, obvious, and elegant. Presence of signifiers.