Designed to reduce cognitive task load

September 27, 2009 |  by

Yesterday I went to shop for a power drill, not that I was in the plan of building a Noah’s Ark but I thought it was necessary to have a power drill to make the life of a house handyman easy. And a discount of 20% on tools offered by a vendor was the driving force.

While I was browsing through the several models of power drills I came across the smart select range of power tools from Black Decker. Those smart select power tools did not have the numerical dial to adjust the torque instead they had the visual icon to represent the screw and surface not the science of torque.

If you had used a power drill or a power screw driver before, you would have noticed the numbers near the chuck (‘chuck?’ drill bit holder) they are the torque adjustment settings. The torque can be adjusted by turning the dials clockwise and counter clockwise as in the image below. Torque is the amount of power supplied to the chuck.

Numbered torque dial and Visual torque dial
If the torque was high the chuck turns powerfully and drills the screw into the most resistant of materials. The size of screw together with the material accepting the screw will influence the torque required for a particular job. Normally the adjustment is by a numerical dial – often up to 16 positions with low numbers being low torque.

But how many of us (budding DIY enthusiasts) will know the torque requirement for a particular size of screw together with the material accepting the screw?

Black Decker solved the problem with their ‘Smart Select’ range of power tools. Smart select dials has the visual of screws alone with the material accepting the screws. Earlier the job of running an one inch screw in a wood plank requires some guess work for budding DIY enthusiasts (calculation for master carpenter) to derive at the torque settings keeping in mind of the screw type and the material accepting the screw. With the smart select dial the power drill user can swivel the smart select dial to match the screw and the material accepting the screw. This visual cue help to reduce the task load of the power tool users. I would not be astonished if numerical dials were overwhelmed by smart select dials in the future.

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