Developing the Right User Interface

And why we started developing Duo with the most basic possible UI

“A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.”

A user interface is defined as such:

us·er in·ter·face / noun / COMPUTING / the means by which the user and a computer system interact, in particular the use of input devices and software.

Plain speak: UI is the way a human and a computer talk to each other.

This could be through software, or hardware. Or a combination of the two. Typically, software speaks through screens and sound, while hardware speaks through switches and buttons. I’m vastly simplifying this explanation but you get the jist.

So how does this relate to Duo, and specifically our prototypes of Duo? Well, Duo is a computer. It uses software to understand what its user needs and provides a proper response to adequately meet those needs.

Some kapton (high heat plastic) wrapped Duo brains

Without this brain, we wouldn’t be able to properly regulate the temperatures of each chamber with the high degree of efficiency that we do. It provides the backbone for Duo to perform as it should; like a 21st century vapor powerhouse.

All of this is great, we’ve got a brain powering two separate heating chambers.. but how do we let the user control all this sweetness?

The Duo prototype user interface / dingy fingernail for scale

Well, what’s simpler than interacting with hardware than a button, an LED and a switch? A switch, to change modes. A button to engage those modes. An LED to reinforce those actions. It’s all the fundamentals required to get the user to where they need to be, nestled neatly in a groove lining the side of the device. No labels even adorn it. While these elements work for our prototype,

I never said it was the right way to do it.
An assortment of digitally rendered, physical UI’s.

There are countless ways to communicate with this particular piece of hardware, but we have to approach it in the right way; through user testing.

By providing the most basic user interface to accomplish the necessary tasks, it gives us the space we need to collect proper user feedback. If we were to provide a “finished-looking” UI on our prototype, we would have a hard time getting honest feedback from our beta testers. They would think the design was already finished, and unable to be changed. By leaving the interface so raw and clearly preliminary, we are opening the minds of those who use it and allowing them to speak freely about what would truly make the product work better for them. The idea is to create as little friction as possible between the user experiencing the product, and imagining what it could be in the context of their lives.

Interested in beta testing with us? Let us know at

Who are we?

We are VUE, a NY based, design led hardware startup developing the Duo infusion vaporizer. To keep up to date on our progress, please sign up for our newsletter and feel free to share with your friends.

Thank you for the support!

-Haiden G