Design and Technology On The Web - Anthropometrics and Ergonomics - What is the difference ? - Customer Needs and Good Product Design at GCSE, KS3, KS5 and beyond.
Last update : 11th  April 2007
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IF IN DOUBT ASK !!!!
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So what exactly is the difference ?
At some point in your project you will have been asked             to research a variety of things that will make your final product  better designed and more easily manufactured.  You may have thought of making a toy or you may be designing a chair and at some point you may hopefully have thought of doing an examination of the ‘target market’ - those people who are going to use the item you are making and who hopefully will ultimately think it is a well designed product they would want to own and use.
       
You may have heard of both of these words…So what is the difference between Anthropometrics and Ergonomics ?
Anthropos’
Anthropos is a Greek word meaning ‘man’ and since the English language is filled with words that have Greek, Latin, French, German, Norse and other origins – it’s not really surprising to find a common example.
‘Metrics’
Anything that looks as though it associated with a very familiar word ’metric’ should certainly be associated with measurements.
So what have we finished up with ?
           
Overall we have the study of people and their sizes – size of hands, size of legs, length of lower leg, size of head, etc etc.   
This information can be discovered by checking out a sample of people – the larger the better  - then – how we apply it is up to our ability as designers..
‘Erg’
The erg is a rarely used measurement of work done.  There used to be a common unit of force –the ‘dyne’ before the fuller acceptance of the more usual SI units of ‘Newton, metres, etc.. – the ‘erg’ was the work done by one ‘dyne’… more detail isn’t necessary here but the syllable erg  is clearly associated with work being done effectively –  in our case it relates  to efficiency of the design.
 ‘ … onomics ’
Economics ends in the same way as our word…and a little thought might suggest it is related to the effective application of something.  In this case the effective managing of the economy but our word ‘erg’ ...onomics – it is also about effective management’ - but the management and minimising of the work done.
Our design has to show consideration of the people we are designing for – We will then have a product that fits properly and ultimately might sell more because it is comfortable to use and effective in its actions.  Much of the information that has allowed an effective design to be created has been found out from our study of anthropometrics.
   
Our design has used this information well – we have made the chair comfortable by applying  knowledge.  We have made it an efficient ergonomic design.  We may have included speakers in the seat around the head area to allow effective radio communication in a jet aircraft – or easy listening on the flight to a holiday destination – or perhaps just made it fit the 4 year old children at the nursery….
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