Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ergonomics of Design

Ergonomics is the science of human engineering, or the design of devices or systems with the consumer or users in mind.  Especially in industrial design and the design of objects, designers must look at the interaction between the humans and the object designed. 

Different object can be criticized based off of ergonomics differently.  In Professor Housefield’s lecture, we went over the basis of design criticism: safety, comfort, ease of use, performance, and aesthetics.
Apple is known for its creative and innovative designs and products.  I have written about Apple products and their designs in previous blog entries, but this time I am going discuss the iPad and its ergonomic criticism.

Based off of my use, the safety level of the iPad is pretty high.  There really are few risks in using an iPad, at least on a physical danger level.  I do not personally know of any examples of serious injuries caused by iPads or spontaneous combustions of any sort.  Apple seems to have made the iPad a safe, durable product. 

The description of the comfort level of an electronic is significantly different from the comfort level of an object such as furniture, or a chair.  While comfort level is a subjective opinion in both examples, they are still very different.  A person can sit on a chair and say that its too stiff, or too squishy.  But with an electronic, some people will feel comfortable working with some electronics, while others are simply not comfortable using it.  A lot of times, there is something about the feel of the screen, or the functionality of it that makes it either comfortable or uncomfortable.  Personally, I believe that the comfort level of the iPad is rather high.  The soft and smooth feel of the screen really adds to the comfort level of the electronic as a whole.

Ease of use goes along with comfort when critiquing an electronic.  For most people, the easer the electronic is to use, the more comfortable it usually is.  Like many Apple products, the iPad was designed very intuitively.  The average person really can figure out how the iPad works quickly after they get it.

Under the performance category, the criticism looks into the products productivity and durability.   Performance-wise, the iPad can do so many different things.  With thousands of applications to choose from, a person can use an iPad to listen to music, watch videos, check e-mails, play games, and obviously thousands of other things.  And while the iPad is relatively new on the market, its durability so far seems strong. 

Again like the majority of the Apple products, the aesthetic design of the iPad is pretty strong as well.  The film Objectified presents the idea that good design looks as if it was not even designed at all.  The iPad has that same look.  The design looks almost effortless and uses elements of simplicity and unity to create the perfect electronic.  Then when the iPad is actually in use, the product uses its high quality screen and colors to keep consumers interested.

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