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Ergonomic DHM systems - limitations and trends – a systematic literature review focused on the ‘future of ergonomics’

Authors
  • Alexander, Thomas
  • Paul, Gunther
Publication Date
May 22, 2014
Source
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive
Keywords
License
Unknown
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Abstract

Digital Human Models (DHM) have been used for over 25 years. They have evolved from simple drawing templates, which are nowadays still used in architecture, to complex and Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) integrated design and analysis tools for various ergonomic tasks. DHM are most frequently used for applications in product design and production planning, with many successful implementations documented. DHM from other domains, as for example computer user interfaces, artificial intelligence, training and education, or the entertainment industry show that there is also an ongoing development towards a comprehensive understanding and holistic modeling of human behavior. While the development of DHM for the game sector has seen significant progress in recent years, advances of DHM in the area of ergonomics have been comparatively modest. As a consequence, we need to question if current DHM systems are fit for the design of future mobile work systems. So far it appears that DHM in Ergonomics are rather limited to some traditional applications. According to Dul et al. (2012), future characteristics of Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE) can be assigned to six main trends: (1) global change of work systems, (2) cultural diversity, (3) ageing, (4) information and communication technology (ICT), (5) enhanced competiveness and the need for innovation, and; (6) sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Based on a literature review, we systematically investigate the capabilities of current ergonomic DHM systems versus the ‘Future of Ergonomics’ requirements. It is found that DHMs already provide broad functionality in support of trends (1) and (2), and more limited options in regards to trend (3). Today’s DHM provide access to a broad range of national and international databases for correct differentiation and characterization of anthropometry for global populations. Some DHM explicitly address social and cultural modeling of groups of people. In comparison, the trends of growing importance of ICT (4), the need for innovation (5) and sustainability (6) are addressed primarily from a hardware-oriented and engineering perspective and not reflected in DHM. This reflects a persistent separation between hardware design (engineering) and software design (information technology) in the view of DHM – a disconnection which needs to be urgently overcome in the era of software defined user interfaces and mobile devices. The design of a mobile ICT-device is discussed to exemplify the need for a comprehensive future DHM solution. Designing such mobile devices requires an approach that includes organizational aspects as well as technical and cognitive ergonomics. Multiple interrelationships between the different aspects result in a challenging setting for future DHM. In conclusion, the ‘Future of Ergonomics’ pose particular challenges for DHM in regards to the design of mobile work systems, and moreover mobile information access.

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