Ergonomics done right.®
January 9th, 2012

I Spy with my Ergo Eyes…Ergonomics in Design

by Cecilia Chan

Cecilia ChanWhile on a recent site visit, two interesting designs caught my eyes.

As I steered away from the airport parking lot in a Ford Focus rental, I noticed two angled protrusions located conveniently at the 10 and 2 positions on the steering wheel right where my thumbs were resting. It was so strange! See for yourself. (Disclaimer: Photos were taken while the car was parked.) I couldn’t resist comparing this to my Camry steering wheel, a standard cylindrically-shaped steering wheel with grooves on the underside. For the rest of my trip, I pondered about the purpose of these protrusions. My conclusion is that they help to eliminate the bent thumb postures that result from gripping a conventional steering wheel. They act as a thumb rest and prevent drivers from exerting the death grip. As the miles passed, I came to appreciate the design more and more. Their 10 and 2 locations promote good driving habits, but on the down side, also prevent drivers from changing their arm/shoulder postures, which may lead to fatigue. I’d still give this design two thumbs up though! Are you a Ford Focus owner or does your steering wheel have a similar design?

The second design can be found inside the women’s washroom at Walmart. I call this design ‘the wave’. The washroom sinks are designed like the crests of a wave, with the two middle sinks located slightly higher than the outside sinks. Talk about accommodating the population! Taller women would find the higher sinks easier to use, reducing butts up postures, while shorter women (like myself) would find the lower sinks more comfortable to use, reducing awkward shoulder postures. This design idea is also great for moms with young children – no need to lift them up as high or better yet, children may be able to tip toe up to the sink themselves to wash their hands. What a great idea! Does your neighborhood Walmart washroom have a similar design?