From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Enabling Technology Wins BusinessWeek/IDSA Design Awards

The Best of Show prize and two other top 2007 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) were made to products epitomizing the flexibility and enabling qualities that distinguish stellar ergonomics. The best overall entry was exercise equipment designed for both disabled and able-bodied users. A toilet for both these types of users won one Gold IDEA, and a keyboard that expands possibilities in many directions for disabled people won another.

The awards, sponsored by BusinessWeek magazine and presented by the Industrial Designers Society of America, attracted 595 entries from around the world. Eighty-one winners from 20 countries took gold, silver, and bronze prizes. The prize-winners included innovations for banking services, mapping the interface between pilots and cockpit instruments, creating broad corporate and brand strategies, bolstering sustainability via electric cars and remaking hammers and wrenches in new, better forms.

The Access exercise machine, which won Gold in the Student Design category, combines the features of multiple machines into one unit for a full-body workout. Simplified and minimal controls enable people with limited dexterity (paraplegics and quadriplegics) to set up and use the equipment with ease. Adjustable grip attachments allow anyone, from a short, 100-pound woman to a tall, 240-pound man, to customize the machine to their body type. Hooks from the base of the machine secure a wheelchair in place, and a rolling bench can be locked in place for users without disabilities.

Gold in the Student Design category went to the Universal Toilet. Its flexible design works well for both able-bodied and disabled users. For the latter, even a dedicated handicapped toilet requires maneuvering, especially for wheelchair users. Universal Toilet users don’t need to turn or twist, but can simply slide forward off the wheelchair and directly onto the toilet. There is a chest board to lean against for added stability and comfort. Handles on the chest board can also be of use when standing or transferring to and from the wheelchair. For other users, the chest board becomes a backboard to lean against. The design makes also makes it space-efficient: it required a quarter of the space needed for standard handicapped toilets.

The LOMAK (light operated mouse and keyboard) won Gold in the Computer Equipment category. It is operated by a head-mounted or hand-operated laser and allows people with disabilities to navigate the Internet, type at 20 words per minute and achieve or maintain their independence. The keyboard accommodates users from 7 to 78-years-old and a range of disabilities including multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, spinal muscular atrophy, cerebral palsy, quadriplegia, arthritis and repetitive strain injury.

The IDEA program fosters business and public understanding of the impact of industrial design on the quality of life and the economy.

Source: IDEA / Industrial Designers Society of America