Process evaluations focus on an individual performing a task (where a process is defined as a series of tasks). By varying the characteristics of the task during an evaluation, the effect of process changes can be explored. Physical characteristics of the task, the individual and the effort expended by the individual during task performance are quantified: muscular effort, joint posture, physiological effort, and force application. These data can be evaluated and used in several ways:
- To benchmark findings against best practices, standards, or guidelines
- To recommend areas for improvement
- To justify recommendations for change
Product evaluations are preformed at many stages in the product design cycle. Early in the product development phase, evaluations are used to guide designers by providing quantitative feedback about their design choices. Late in the design phase, evaluations can be used to benchmark a product design against an existing design. To evaluate the physical requirements necessary to use a product, objective data is collected: level of vibration, torque requirements, activation forces, and pressure distributions. To assess the effort required by an individual when using a product, five types of data can be collected: muscle activity (timing, intensity, duration), joint positions (velocities and accelerations), force distributions (i.e. force over the palm), physiological changes (O2 uptake, heart rate), and participant’s preference and perceptions. Quantifying and associating changes in the physical requirements associated with using a product with the effort required of individuals performing the task can document quantifiers of the improvements associated with product changes. The physical requirements can be compared to published safety standards or benchmarked against internal and/or competitors’ requirements.
Design of healthy built environments is at the forefront of societies research needs. Built environment here refers to man-made environments and the product there in. By merging the principles of Universal Design with the systematic assessment methods available in the RED Lab, the interaction between an individual and their environment is assessed. The choices made in the built environment impact individuals ability to perform tasks (with efficiency, quality and pleasure). Exploring to complex relationship between the built environment and its users requires mixed methods including subjective feedback, observational techniques, and quantitative assessments (eg: muscular effort, joint posture, physiological effort, and force application).