Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Cable Car for London

Naked promotion of one of our current projects but we thought some might be interested to see the videos of the cable car that is coming to London next year

We have been appointed to provide human factors to the Mace design team under URS/Scott Wilson

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Sunday, 22 May 2011

What do passengers say they want in airports?

Continuing the theme of our recent posts on airport design and meeting the needs of the passengers, we came across this blog post of a survey of what they said they wanted:

Biggest desire?  Signage, communications, staff - people want to know where to go, how to get there, where their plane is, etc.  They also want a human to deliver some of this - so signs and interactive kiosks will only get you so far in meeting passenger needs.

Maybe they want wifi as the second need so that they can email and tweet all their friends when the get lost or stuck in a queue

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Friday, 20 May 2011

Should electric cars be made to go "vroom"?

This takes us back to one of our earliest posts on electric vehicles.  In that post we were looking at the design of a new electric scooter.  It occurred to us in testing the scooter that one of the potential problems with similar electric vehicles was the lack of noise and therefore an increased risk to pedestrians and other road users who wouldn't hear us coming.

We found some information then suggesting that EU directives banned manufacturers from artificially introducing noise.

However, this recent post on the BBC website suggests that with increasing numbers of electric vehicles starting to hit the streets this is now a recognised problem and people are researching the right kind of solution.

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Robots helping us in old age?

This picture is from the National Geographic website as part of their feature ‘7 Billion Population’.  As the title suggests the global population is soon to reach this figure with an ever increasing proportion of elderly people.

The image shows a 69year old Japanese lady being assisted by a robot to do her supermarket shopping and was part of a research study by the researchers from Keihanna Science City, Kyoto, Japan.  In a country with a population of 128million, 29million are elderly and already outnumber the young.  This has raised concerns about who will be able to care for their older generations in years to come and what are the possible alternatives to relying on humans for support. 

The concepts of robots assisting or replacing humans in industry is nothing new, but incorporating them into our every day lives is perhaps considered, by most, as still being slightly unnerving.   The films Terminator and iRobot spring to mind! 

The design of substitute support humans would need to be robust and look at not only the user requirements but also how the two would interact: for example, would the user respond to voice, touch etc, could the robots perform multi-functions, would they be able to ‘talk’ to their owners and what happens in the event of a break down or malfunction, especially in the middle of a supermarket?  Further consideration would need to be given to training the users how to interact with the robots and this could prove difficult with the population groups that would perhaps benefit the most, such as the elderly.

Nevertheless, in the future, the integration of robots into everyday civilization could be a feasible option to help solve some serious issues as a result of our ever demanding global population, but the success is likely to rely heavily upon the human being kept at the centre of the design. 

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