Rapid Design of Innovative Products and Services Using a Proactive Ergonomic Approach

Practice and Experience
By Marie-Claude Prévost, Daniel Spooner

In this case study, new product and service ideas are proposed to a client by using a prospective ergonomics approach. This approach differs from more traditional approaches where one works within a specific, client-defined project. The approach is designed and adapted so that all steps could be conducted within a short period of time and can provide a maximum number of prospective elements, which could lead to the creation of novel ideas. The pre-project methodology that we use includes information gathering sessions conducted with expert users, task analysis and concludes by the generation of ideas for future projects. The methods and techniques used also ensure that a close link with the workplace is maintained throughout the pre-project and take into account criteria to evaluate the future usefulness of the produced ideas. After meeting with five users in seven days, designers identified twenty problems that could be tackled and eight design ideas that could be implemented over the short, medium and long terms in the client’s occupational therapy postural aid equipment field. The ideas encompassed a wide range of potential projects, including physical product improvements, new product lines, Web sites, software improvements and longer term research. This wide range of projects was possible because the pre-project was not constrained by specific project scopes and timelines defined by the client. The client was involved in the final idea evaluation process. As a result of this study, three projects that were identified during this study are being developed and already have or will be released to market.


  • prospective ergonomics
  • need elicitation
  • future needs
  • design
  • human factors
  • postural aid
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