Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sizing China

Measuring Chinese head sizes ...

"Western products hurt asian people, physically
Complaints from Japanese snowboarders that a US-designed helmet gave them a splitting headache, and that they would thus never buy it triggered Roger Ball, former designer and now assistant Professor at Hong Kong PolyU, to setup the SizeChina project: the world’s first digital database of Chinese head and face shapes. Asian heads are shaped differently than 'western' heads, but nonetheless most products are based on anthropometric (measurements of the human body) data of these western heads. Hence the Japanese snowboarders' splitting headache. So Ball set out to measure more than 2000 Chinese heads in 6 different regions in China, driving bulky 3D scanning equipment throughout the country. Ball is not using a ruler to measure the Chinese. He uses state-of-the-art 3D scanning equipment.

Chinese heads are different
And now the first results are in. The data will be made (commercially) available through the SizeChina database and indeed the whole exercise proved worthwhile:

The first prototype Size China head form, constructed from scanned data, revealed a dramatic difference between Chinese and Western head and face shapes: Western heads are generally more oval and appear to have had the corners “filled out.”

Read the full story in MetropolisMag.

Usability and anthropometrics
And why should we care about anthropomotrics? For web- and software, physical ergonomics hardly play a role, because human-computer interaction most of the time the physical interaction components are the same (usually a mouse and a keyboard). But consumer product usability means you're talking about products that have different physical controls every time, and that should still deliver an efficient, effective and satisfactory human-product interaction. Which includes a comfortable, efficient and satisfactory interaction in the physical sense. So a good anthropometric database, such as Johan Molenbroek - who is also a consultant on the SizeChina project - helped develop in the Netherlands (Dined) is essential for consumer product usability. In every part of the world, and now also in China."    (Continued via the product usability weblog, Metropolismag)    [Usability Resources]

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