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Constraint modelling in 'design for all'Case, Keith; Goonetilleke, Thanuja Shiromie; Marshall, Russell; Porter, J. Mark; Gyi, Diane E.; Sims, Ruth; Loughborough University (CIT Press, 2003)Design for All', or Inclusive Design, is an approach to the design of products and workplaces that aims to maximise suitability for a wide range of consumers/workers. In particular attempts are made to include elderly and disabled consumers/workers without stigmatising the product or in any other way detracting from its attractiveness to younger more able-bodied users. The interest in Design for All stems from the increasing number of elderly and disabled people in western societies, the considerable economic power that they command and pressure from a wide variety of legislative forces. Research has recently been completed that provides a new basis for the application of ergonomics through computer aided design based on multivariate techniques using anthropometric and other data related to individuals rather than populations. The design tool created (known as HADRIAN) is briefly described. This tool is capable of assessing the percentage of the individuals that are able to perform a task whether this be in a domestic or industrial environment. However, it is not capable of suggesting design changes to improve this percentage accommodation, and hence ongoing research is concerned with ‘design synthesis’. The design synthesis approach uses a constraint modeller (SWORDS, which has been used elsewhere in many design and industrial applications) to search a potentially infinite design space to find sets of spatial characteristics of the design that maximise the user accommodation. This design synthesis approach is presented in this paper and described by a case study.
In search of design synthesis by linking ergonomic evaluation and constraint modelling to attain design for allGoonetilleke, Thanuja Shiromie; Case, Keith; Marshall, Russell; Porter, J. Mark; Gyi, Diane E.; Sims, Ruth; Loughborough University (2003)To enable designers to 'design for all', a sound understanding of the intended users, their anthropometry and mobility is needed. Information is also required regarding users' abilities and disabilities based on the tasks they are to perform while using the product being designed. Users, each of whom is an individual (and not just a part of the population), have different needs, physical sizes, coping strategies, abilities and disabilities. To use and apply each of these parameters together with the variables of the product and to meet the challenges of ‘design for all’ criteria, it is imperative for the designers to use effective and efficient tools. This paper presents an approach for design synthesis with the objective of determining design parameters of a design that would meet the needs of a specified user population or maximise the percentage accommodation. A new software tool is being developed to assist designers in the product development process. This software is able to suggest design parameters that would maximise user accommodation, after considering all the data sets for individual users. To achieve this, the software utilises capabilities of three very different pieces of software. The first of these is called HADRIAN, which is the prototype software currently under development, by the ‘Design for All’ project group at Loughborough University. HADRIAN provides an integrated database about individual users and can carry out a task analysis for the tasks that the user has to perform when interacting with the product or the environment that is being developed. Mathematical analysis software is used to fit functions to this data so that the SWORDS Constraint Modelling software can be used to find the optimum parameters of the design that would maximise the user accommodation. Issues in the design and implementation of this software system are discussed in the context of simple examples from kitchen design and automated teller machines (ATMs).