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Inclusive design tool based on psychological and biomechanical functional performance

Hood, V.L. and Loudon, D. and MacDonald, A. and Grealy, M. and Rowe, P.J. and Nicol, A.C. and Conway, B.A. (2006) Inclusive design tool based on psychological and biomechanical functional performance. Age, 28 (1). p. 17. ISSN 0161-9152

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The inclusive design movement aims to address the disabling effects of poorly designed products by setting out to design goods that can be used by all. For many elderly people declining strength, flexibility and balance interact to limit their capacity to use many every day products and services. However, while large anthropometric databases provide invaluable aid to designers there is almost no accessible information on the functional capacity of older adults. Without access to this type of data, inclusive design can only have limited success. In this study we have investigated age related changes in the performance of a range of movement tasks for integration into a computer aided design tool for use in inclusive design. Measurements were taken of the biomechanical requirements of older adults during numerous activities of daily living. Supplementary measures of maximal muscular strength, range of motion, together with several psychological parameters were also gathered. This has resulted in the formation of a large database which can provide designers with a wealth of information on the control and regulation of actions and the psychological factors which influence this. Selected data from these measurements are being integrated into the new software package in the form of animations of a human model. These animations provide a highly visualised method for studying how virtual products challenge the functional capacity of different age groups and thereby can assist designers in testing the functionality of new products and devices. The research has also produced detailed psychological profiles on how older adults deal with novelty, learn new tasks and how they think and feel about their movement capabilities: factors which need to be taken into account when designing products for all.