Reply Wireless Interactive Technology

[Technology] Why are keypads better then dials for audience response applications?

Group response systems typically use one of the following user interfaces to input audience response:

  • Telephone- or calculator-style keyboard
  • Typewriter keyboard (i.e., QWERTY)
  • Protruding Dial
Most audience response systems adopt a keyboard that has a familiar ergonomic layout similar to your telephone or calculator. That makes them so simple to understand that anyone can use them immediately without instructions. Moreover, keyboard styles allow you to enter different types of individual response, ranging from multiple choice to multiple digits to text messages. For example, users can enter alphanumeric answers 10 to 72 characters long with ReplyŽ products. Dials, which usually have a capability to send responses of only two to three numeric characters, simply cannot perform this function.

To understand why keyboards are the preferred style for meeting, training, and group survey applications, you simply need to consider the "human dynamic" of audience response. Participants in an interactive session are looking at a visual stimulus (i.e., question slide). When prompted to respond, they reorient to the response device to identify the selection, note on the response device that the selection was accepted, and look back to the visual display to view the graph of the group's response. Keypads are uniquely adept at that task, since users can quickly identify their selection and positively note the response was entered and accepted. On the other hand, dials use a graduated rheostat that makes it difficult to "lock in" the response. During a dial user's attempt to select the number using a "twisting/turning" motion, the user is concentrating on the display to ensure there is no error in the response selection. None of this difficult numeric selection or extended concentration is required with keypads.

Granted, there are some select instances when response systems are used for more than Q&A. Sometimes response systems are used for analyzing a respondent's favor/disfavor to a stimulus with respect to time. This is called moment-to-moment polling (or perception analysis), and it is usually limited to a very small part of the market research industry that deals with specialized video and audio analyses. Dials are sufficient for this task; however, they are not the only style of response system that can perform the moment-to-moment function. For example, standard and custom ReplyŽ products have raised borders, raised surfaces, and/or special layouts (such as linear key layout or touch sensitive slider) to help users easily identify the appropriate key during special applications that require uninterrupted concentration on a specific stimulus. More importantly, select ReplyŽ systems can timestamp responses up to a resolution of 1/20th of a second...something contemporary dial systems cannot do.

Of these styles, keypads have been most readily accepted as the premier audience response tool. This is no unsubstantiated claim, since over 6 MILLION wireless keypads using ReplyŽ technology are now in the market.

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