Have I just pressed something? The effects of everyday cold temperatures on dexterity
conference contributionposted on 04.12.2009, 11:19 by Edward Elton, D. Dumolo, Colette Nicolle
This paper details work on the effect of physical context of use on inclusive product interaction. Context of use refers to a set of circumstances which relate to the Users, Tasks, Equipment/Tools and Environment (both Physical and Social) (ISO, 1997). In particular, the physical context of use refers to factors such as lighting levels, temperature, weather conditions, vibration, noise, the built environment, etc. Consideration of the context of use is an integral, although sometimes implicit, part of any product design process. When a mismatch between context and a product occurs, it is unlikely that the benefits of a product will be realised (Maguire, 2001). Recent evidence suggests context of use can have a multi-faceted impact on product use (e.g. increasing or decreasing user capability and/or increasing product demand) particularly with older adults who have significantly reduced capability due to their age (Elton et al, 2008). Specifically, it is the physical environment that significantly affects capability. The vast majority of product interactions make demands on the visual and dexterous (arm, hand and finger) capabilities of the user. Whilst other capabilities are also used, it is these that are most common. Several studies (Riley and Cochran, 1984; Havenith et al, 1995; Boyce, 2003) have reported the effect of the physical environment on vision and dexterity. However, such studies focus on the body’s physiological response to such conditions and generally investigate extremes, e.g. freezing temperatures. Whilst these studies indicate the extent to which the physical environment can affect capability, they have very little relevance to everyday scenarios where products are used. Previous research investigated the effect of everyday lighting levels on visual capabilities (Elton and Nicolle, 2009). This paper reports the findings from a pilot study that investigated the effect of an everyday winter temperature on dexterity and how this can affect product interaction.