As the U.S. population ages, manufacturers of consumer goods are realizing that many customers may not be as nimble-fingered or sharp-sighted as they once were. To help product designers and engineers address those changing requirements, researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have been developing evaluation methods and design techniques to identify and address the needs of all consumers, including those with functional limitations.
GTRI's latest product is a pair of arthritis simulation gloves, which reproduce the reduction in functional capacity experienced by persons with arthritis. The gloves help those responsible for consumer products better understand how arthritis affects a person's ability to grasp, pinch, turn, lift and twist objects.
"A product manager or designer can put these gloves on and attempt to open their company's products or packaging," explained GTRI principal research scientist Brad Fain. "If they are unable to open a product or package, then chances are high that people with moderate to severe symptoms of arthritis will also have difficulty opening it."
The gloves can be used with a variety of consumer products, including medicine bottles, beverage containers, office supplies, medical devices, vehicles, cell phones and many other consumer products. They can also be used with many different types of packaging, including clamshell packages, cardboard boxes, cereal containers and foil packages.
Three companies, including Kraft Foods, are currently using the gloves in-house.
"Maxwell House always keeps our consumers' needs in mind when designing packaging," said Linda Roman, senior group leader for packaging strategic research at Kraft Foods. "For example, we used the gloves created by the Georgia Tech Research Institute to verify that the lid on our new instant coffee jar is accessible for those who have difficulty opening jars with regular caps. The gloves helped us evalua
|Contact: Abby Vogel|
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News