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Beyond shrink-wrap and sites: Integrating usability into hardware products

Software usability engineers are familiar with techniques to measure and improve the usability and user experience of software (shrink-wrapped or otherwise) and Web sites. But what about techniques for hardware: things you touch, wear, listen to, and live with?

The parameters of software design include contrast, color, size, shape, and perhaps animations and sounds. Hardware design parameters add in holdability, center of gravity, rigidity, texture, surface temperature, sunlight glare, thermal conductivity, force/displacement profiles, control/display ratios, human anthropometry, and the corrosive effects of fingerprint oil.

These hardware design parameters will be discussed through examples that include remote controls, pens, photographic papers, headphones, entertainment systems, automotive displays, two-way radios, photofinishing equipment, cameras, fertility monitors, fireworks, heating pads, and automotive gear selectors.

Expanding one's awareness of all the design parameters should lead to greater designer empowerment and improved user experiences with both software and hardware products.

Dr. David Aurelio is currently the Lead Senior Human Factors Engineer for the Automotive Systems Division of Bose® Corporation. His activities there include conducting user needs assessment, designing user interfaces, and developing methods for usability evaluations, especially those involving driver distraction.

His Bose user interface design projects have included the Bose Lifestyle® 48 Home Entertainment System, the Bose Media System for automotive telematics, and the ADAPTiQ® Audio Calibration System including voice prompts.

Prior to working at Bose, Dr. Aurelio worked at General Motors, Eastman Kodak, and the American Institutes for Research. While at Kodak, he taught at Syracuse University as an adjunct assistant professor of Human Factors. His publications include 155 internal industry technical reports and 10 publications in journals, conference proceedings and books.

Dr. Aurelio received his Ph.D. degree in Human-Machine Systems from Northeastern University. He received an M.S. degree in Occupational Health and Safety Engineering (i.e., Ergonomics) from the University of Michigan, and a B.S. degree in Engineering Psychology from Tufts University.

Invited Speaker David Aurelio Usability perspectives for General