Molding Human Interaction with Technology
BY: DAREN MAYNARD
INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3
Waking up in 2014 means that human have to interact with technology in various ways, from the industrial equipment we use to the ever-present smart devices. And industrial engineers have to consider the ergonomic implications of these interactions in their designs of workplace equipment.
For example, Optis developed its full immersion virtual reality tool Human Integrated Manufacturing (H.I.M.) to be used in a 360-degree computer-generated visualization of machine design by its customer. Steelcase has designed Gesture, an ergonomic office chair that support human body based on the different postures the user adopt while interacting with technology.
Simulation is an important component in the process of designing engineered products. Having a tool like H.I.M. at one’s disposal enhances the design in manufacturing and industrial usages from ideation to training of the user. The dimensions and physical footprint of the designs can be reviewed without resorting to expensive prototypes. The engineer can map out the best way to assemble, disassemble and maintain the machine before production even starts.
During the iterative design process, H.I.M. can be used to validate the ergonomics of the design by using an interactive virtual human/avatar. In addition, the design’s performance in the industrial environment can be simulated to ensure it meets physical, mechanical and thermodynamic parameters. When the design is finalized, it is released into production. The intended users now can be trained on the new machine even before it is delivered to the customer’s site. This reduces the down time between machine setup and actual usage.
With the continued proliferation of mobile devices, our bodies fine themselves in variously name contortions: the cocoon, draw, the multidevice, the smart leap, the strunch, the swipe, the take it in, text and the trance. The Gesture chair has been designed to support and match our bodies in these new positions, positions that put us into uncomfortable, sometimes painful and stressful conditions of various time lengths. The Gestures interfaces with the body in terms of the core, the limb, the seat and the user to give a more ergonomic human-technology experience.
The core interface supports the user’s back in synchronicity with the various positions he or she adopts when using a computer, tablet, phone or a combination of mobile devices and accessories. The limb interfaces cradles the arms and shoulder at the user swipes, type and texts; it moves in harmony with these body parts. The seat’s flexibility matches the user as the person assumes different postures, providing comfort. The user interfaces with the Gesture as the chain can be adjusted to the various body types and sitting preferences to make it a personal experience. Almost like the chair was designed just for particular user.