Saturday, April 7, 2007

Analog vs. Digital Dials

Technology

Over the years many devices have replaced analog dials with digital displays. Stoves, microwaves, refrigerators, cars, clocks and more. Some people forget that there are advantages to analog dials.

Here are some of them:

● Analog dials always show a range and you can see where you are within that range. A digital display typically only shows the current value.

● Analog dials are available even when an item is turned off.

● Analog dials move linearly through values. You can’t skip over a value as you can in a digital display. You can also visually see how fast the value is changing.

● Analog displays can easily have color a range of values (red/green) to show you when you are approaching or leaving a desirable range.

● Analog displays typically give you a rough approximation of a value. This is useful for things that need approximations not exact figures.

Many of these characteristics can be simulated with a digital display but often times they are not because people no-longer see value in it. Is your data ambiguous? Are you giving people a false sense of precision with a digital display?

● Analog dials allow you to know the value of the dial just by quickly seeing the angle (clocks, speedometers)

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