Visual analysis of user accommodation
This study presents a novel, quantitative tool for design decision-making for products designed for human variability. Accommodation, which describes the ability of a user to interact with a device or environment in a preferred way, is a key product performance metric. Methods that offer a better understanding of accommodation of broad user populations would allow for the design of products that are more cost-effective, safer, and/or lead to greater levels of customer satisfaction. Target user populations are often characterized by measures of anthropometry, or body dimensions. A methodology is proposed that uses a visual analysis method for understanding and exploring accommodation across the variability in anthropometry of a target user population. This is achieved by assessing binary accommodation of individuals using a “virtual fit” method and examining trends in binary accommodation across the range of anthropometric variability, referred to as the “anthropometry space”. Various factors influencing accommodation, such as user preference independent of anthropometry and the quality of a design, are also discussed and are an important contribution of the work. Two demonstration studies are presented that illustrate the methodology and provide opportunity for discussion of its impact. The first study investigates the simple univariate problem of dimensionally optimizing the seat height and range of adjustability of an exercise cycle. The second study investigates the more complex problem of optimally configuring the driver package of a commercial truck.