User Characteristics and Ergonomic Properties for Daily Objects Design

User Characteristics and Ergonomic Properties for Daily Objects Design

John A. Rey-Galindo (Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico), Elvia Luz González-Muñoz (Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico) and Alicia Libertad Rizo-Corona (Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5234-5.ch015

Abstract

An analysis of different objects of daily use was made, specifically four models of lemon squeezers, three models of can openers, and four models of clothespins. Such analysis is made focusing on the strength needed to complete the task and the dimensional relation between the hands and object grips that impact both in ease of use and user well-being itself, identifying the gap between young and older adults characteristics and capabilities and the features of the object. This comparison was supported by a dynamometric study to identify the maximum capabilities of strength application in two different grip forces very common in daily life. These two grip forces are the ground of the interaction with the analyzed products. In conjunction with the force, the registry made an anthropometric assessment of different anatomical points in the hands.
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Introduction

Carry out most of the activities of daily living requires the help of products or objects. For instance, food preparation, hygiene or even displacement are activities in which a large number of objects are used. Objects that should act as facilitators and enable people to carry out their activities in an easy and effective manner. However, there is no much information on how the characteristics of the product respond to the needs of those who use them.

Several analyses from the perspective of biomechanics and physiology have allowed recognizing that even though the products, in general, help people to carry out activities. There are some of them which could have a negative effect on the health of users due to sometimes products are not designed taking into consideration user's characteristics, as happens with some tools, which have been identified as risk factors for development of musculoskeletal disorders that affect workers (Daams, 1994; Resnick & Chaffin, 1995; Dong, et. al, 2007).

In the case of the use of daily products, the available information is limited. The repercussions of the characteristics of these objects on the users while interact with them are not clear and the situation becomes even more complex if it is recognized that many products that are offered in the market have similar functions. Just by taking a look at the shop windows, it is possible to find lots of products whose characteristics are different, but they are designed for the same activities. Often consumers do not know if its characteristics are adequate and what can be the repercussion of the use of these.

Another paramount point and which there is not much information is the case of the characteristics of users. It is not possible to know if the products are adequate, without having data of the capacities and limitations that the people for whom they are designed to have. This situation is not only problematic in relation with the evaluation of the products but also due to the lack of information. Thus, the decision-making of the designers is difficult and more likely to be inaccurate, causing the products to have problems of use and repercussions on user’s well-being.

Ergonomics discipline allows the design to have a closer approach to users and confers to it useful tools to define the most important factors related to the characteristics of the people for whom the products are designed. In this way, designers can determine different aspects, with greater reliability so the requirements of use can be fulfilled. In the field of ergonomics has been developed the concept of ergonomic properties (Prado-León & Ávila-Chaurand, 2006), which consists of endowing the product with features that cover different users aspects. Thus, products are consistent with the requirements of use and could have less negative impact on user’s health.

The ergonomic properties are six: 1) the anthropometric property, consists of adjusting the product dimensions to the measurements of the users, 2) the biomechanical property refers to harnessing and enhancing the strength that users have, through the form and mechanisms of products, 3) the anatomical property consists in adjusting the shape of the products to the anatomical area of users with which it will make contact. It is worth to highlight that not necessarily a well-designed anatomical object will copy the shape of the body, 4) the physiological property refers to the consideration of physiological functioning of the user body, considering that this is not affected by the use of the object by factors such as posture or contact with the body, 5) the psychological property, it is related to making the product comprehensible and clear in their its operation, taking into account the cognitive characteristics of the users and 6) the sensory adaptation, which refers to implement some aspects such as color and texture, to improve the use and understanding of the product.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Basic Activities of Daily Living: A group of activities related to self-care performed in the day to day that allows identifying the functional state of the subject by assessing them. Although there are many classifications, among them are personal hygiene, mobility, and eating.

Ergonomic Properties: Object characteristics in agree with user characteristics, capacities, and abilities. There are six recognized ergonomic properties: anatomic, anthropometric, biomechanical, physiological, psychological, and sensory properties.

Older Adults: Adults over 60 years old.

Maximum Perceived Strength: Maximum strength possible to perform by the subject.

Anthropometrics: The science that defines physical measures of a person size, form, and functional capacities. Applied to ergonomics, anthropometric measurements are used to study the interaction of people with tasks, tools, machines, vehicles, and other objects to determine the degree of adequacy.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living: A group of activities performed in the day to day related to independence and control; they allow to identify the functional state of the subject by assessing them. There are several classifications but among them are using public transportation, shopping, preparing meals, and managing money.

Hand Strength: Used when referring to both grip force and pinch grip or to general strength in the hand.

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