University of Padova

Ergonomic evaluation of household appliances

Project Description

The oven, the washdisher, the fridge and many more are household appliances provided in many kitchens, and for their mainly role they are used at least once in a day. Hence, for their frequency of use, it’s important to understand how the common user interact with them, which are the ordinary actions made by the user, and how the appliance make possible these actions. The main objective of this research is to elaborate a specific strategy for an ergonomic analysis focalized on the interaction user-household appliance that provide useful outcomes for the producer, in the respect of the production times. Moreover a cognitive ergonomic analysis can give a description on how the user interact with the product, to know the flow of actions made by the user allow the designer to change or remove some details that could cause feelings of frustration if the user cannot realized the goal of his actions or pain caused by repetitive wrong body positions due to bad location of some components.

Work Description

A specific methodology has been created thus to allow a depth investigation of the modalities of interactions between a common user and a household appliance in the everyday life. The most important characteristic of this methodology is to be suitable for different kinds of household appliances, economic and capable of providing results in a short period of time. This methodology of investigation is based on classical methods of ergonomic analysis, in particular: cognitive ergonomic test and usability test. All the experimental sessions were recorded by four cameras: two wireless camera, one fixed camera, and one dome camera. The videorecording of every participants enable researchers to make more accurate video-analysis with Noldus ObserverXT. Before the creation of the sequence of tasks, the research team analyzed all the similar fridge-freezers on sale and all the similar washing machine on sale, in order to exploit the main aspect of this category of appliances and understand the most frequent actions that a common user made during the daily interaction. After this analysis, all the possible actions and all the possible interactions that a user could made were categorized, and for each of them were projected a specific category of tasks.

Rex-Electrolux RNB 38351 Y display

AEG-Electrolux Santo 75438 display

Rex-Electrolux RWN 14991 display

This methodology was first applied on a fridge freezer (Rex-Electrolux RNB 38351 Y) and then applied on another fridge freezer (AEG-Electrolux Santo 75438), thus a comparison between the common aspects of these household appliances, is possible. Given their technical differences between these two fridges, some tasks were readapted or removed from the list of original sequence of task, though the main areas of interest were unchanged during the comparison. The same methodology was also used for the study of a washing machine (Rex-Electrolux RWN 14911) and some area of investigation (e.g. the interaction with the display) were in common between these studies (fridge-freezers vs. washing machine) but, obviously, were studied through different kind of tasks.

It’s also important, to investigate the level of users’ satisfaction during the interaction with the appliance. This level of satisfaction was measured with dicotomic answers given by the participants at the end of all the task sequence. Users have been divided in three experimental conditions based on the different permitted use of the user manual. Gender was balanced when composing users samples. This research was supported by Electrolux with a postgraduated student grant.

Fridge ergonomic evaluation

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