Representing older and disabled people in virtual user trials: data collection methods

A database was developed to support the creation of a computer-based tool which will support design teams in evaluating the usability of a design during early prototyping and indicate which individuals are effectively excluded or designed out. Methods are described for the collection of multivariate data on 100 real individuals covering a range of physical characteristics and capabilities. These data were tested to ensure a breadth of representation of individuals (particularly older and disabled people) in terms of anthropometry, joint constraints, postural capabilities and task behaviours. The concept of the design tool itself is explored by conducting virtual user trials in the computer-aided design environment. The novel approach of the research encourages empathy with individual users and allows generic abilities, such as bending, reaching and lifting to be assessed.