Ergonomic study for vacuum handles

 

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While developing their 2017 stick vacuums, Shark's design team needed to focus on the ergonomics and asked us to design a “best-in-class” handle. This project was also meant to train their team into Smart Design’s principles of universal design. Universal design is a design philosophy developed by Smart Design around the idea that design determines who is included.

Instead of designing a product for an “average” user, we developed this product for “extreme users” on the spectrum, such as people with disabilities and more sensitive requirements. The result is a product that works for everyone and exceeds expectations for the average user.

 
 
Designing for extreme users makes the product better for everyone. This is inclusive design.

Designing for extreme users makes the product better for everyone. This is inclusive design.

 
 

Using ice water and "empathy gloves", we conducted experiments that simulated lower dexterity user scenarios.

 
 
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We analyzed the movements of users of very different heights while using current stick vacuums to inform our stimuli for in-home research sessions.

 
 
Identified problems: unnecessary lifting and wrist strains.

Identified problems: unnecessary lifting and wrist strains.

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We tested the prototypes with seven users. Four of them were extreme users with arthrytis.

 
 
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With our learnings in mind, we sketched a series of concepts from ideal solutions to time realistic implementations.

 
 
An optimization that meets timeline constraint: A more appropriate angle and thumb spaces.

An optimization that meets timeline constraint: A more appropriate angle and thumb spaces.

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