LESSON 3: HARRY'S NOT THE ONLY WIZARD:
|WORD BANK: Innovation, home automation, assistive technologies, product/industrial design, technology transfer, AND (list others that stymie you as you read on) ...|
TEST YOUR SMARTS ABOUT HI-TECH INNOVATIONS
Let's start with a Pre-Quiz
over a few innovations that have resulted from high technology, robotics,
and artificial intelligence. Some of the home automation features
were designed originally for commercial use, but later "morphed"
into smaller sizes for personal and household use. Similarly, assistive
technologies used initially for physical therapy or vocational
rehab have been down-sized to use at home, work, and recreation—and
even to fit the aisles on large passenger aircraft!
The photos in the following
Pre-Quiz are hot new home automation and assistive technology products--but
NOT the one described beside each. See if you can match all 7 products
with their correct description, then compare your answers with others
in your group. CLICK HERE to do the Pre-Quiz.
|Quotable Quote: Design has to deal with... science, art, form and function, money, manufacturing, use and wear--all of which are often in direct conflict. Thus all designers always compromise in what is made, how it's made, what is bought, and how it's used (Petroski, 2001).|
cartoon about innovation: So what wisecrack
is Caveman One making to the other about his HOT new circular rock?
Have your friends and family help you write the funniest, yet
relevant punch line in your study group. .
As you read this Lesson, see if you can detect which products are just innovations vs. those that are also universally-designed. If there is not enough data to decide whether a given item meets the UD Principles, think about its potential user-advantages and disadvantages. Jot down questions that you'd want answered if you could surf right into some product specifications.
The history of product design reveals that many innovations often begin life as experimental or custom designs available at limited scale and high cost. Later, some are mass-produced at lower prices for the consumer market. Over time, some innovations go out of style or become obsolete, while others serve as the basis for improvement and continuous innovation. For example, the automobile and the wheelchair were radical new personal mobility innovations.
Decades ago, at the Millennium, most Americans
hadn't heard of UD, thus its adoption rates were low. So, the
UD concept itself still qualifies as an innovation, with individual
new UD products emerging constantly to meet the human needs of people
of all ages and abilities.
|Quotable Quote: "Universal Design must be cost-effective or it will never happen” (Tobias).|
The Internet Home Alliance is helping its members (including Sears, Whirlpool, IBM, and others) develop the market for home technologies that require a broadband connection to the Internet. Their Mealtime pilot project, a test of a "connected kitchen solution" in 20 Boston households, was completed in 2003. When consumer demand for this fairly expensive product becomes adequate, the manufacturer will bring the web-connectable model (described below) to the mass market (Copley News Service, 2004).
Families in the Mealtime project used a prototype range that can be controlled using the Internet. The Polara refrigerated range is already on the market WITHOUT a Net connection, but the designers left space to add the "spaghetti" (wiring) later.
Before leaving for work in the morning, a cook pulls one of the casseroles s/he prepared last month from the freezer. S/he places the frozen entree in Polara's oven and programs the times to start thawing, then cooking. When hungry family members arrive home after a long day, they're surprised to smell a delicious homemade dinner ready to serve.
When Polara is networked, a cook who discovers that s/he will have to work late can just get online to tell the range to COOL it (the meal). Thus, the family won't sit down to a rock-hard main dish that thawed, cooked, and then burned "to a crisp" since it wasn’t eaten on time!
The Alliance is aiming at the EARLY mass market (buyers who like to try new things—and can afford to do so). One official predicts that consumers are UNlikely to adopt connected appliances as quickly as DVD players. He expects their sales to be similar to wireless home networks--selling well but below later mass-market volumes. CLICK HERE to learn more about the Polara.
A Vacuum Called Roomba? Who's Scooba?
Robotics now on the worldwide market include vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, and wireless security systems for the family home. Commercial applications are bathroom scrubber-bots, painter-bots (that wash, scrape, and re-paint exterior and interior walls and ceilings), and delivery-bots that take heavy bed linens to washers and dryers in large hospital laundries.
Home versions of commercial robots already are on the U. S. market. For example, the Roomba vacuum cleaner spins around a room, slipping under furniture in hot pursuit of dirt under the bed and in other hard-to-reach places. Between jobs, the Roomba "hangs" on the wall and re-charges itself! The Scooba floor scrubber works similarly, but adds water to the mix, whisking dirt and stains off hard-surface floors. A robotic clothes iron is expected to be available in 2006. (But does anyone iron anything anymore?!)
In a totally automated home, all
chores are done by programmable machines that may be operated by a finger
tap on a simple keyboard. These innovations would help millions
of people with frailties or disabilities to remain independent at home.
The picture is becoming brighter as medical and rehabilitation advances prevent or minimize severe physical disabilities AND (industrial) designers adopt the Universal Design concept. When combined with rising demand from the "senior market," universal AT may lead to economies of scale and affordable prices for items that can be mass produced.
Universally-Designed Information Technology
In Information Technology (IT), universal accessibility produces flexibility for all. The IT industry is now capable of designing mass-market products with NO need for special lines for persons with disabilities. For example: a small computer (the size of a wallet) uses the same features for everyone, whether ablebodied OR disabled (Vanderheiden, 2003).
Prompted by the 2000 scandal over Florida ballots and voting machines, a cross-disability accessible voting tablet debuted in the 2004 election. Developed at the TRACE Center (University of Wisconsin), the EZ Access technology allows a person to vote regardless of visual, mobility, or cognitive limitations. Voters register their selections on the tablet, which instantly and accurately totals the results and sends them to a central site as election day closes. The Japanese also have invented a computerized voting tablet.
The EZ Access Solution also works for ATMs, PDAs, and home entertainment centers. To learn about making standard IT and telecommunications systems more accessible and usable by people with disabilities AND everyone else, CLICK HERE.
Ah, Mobility (Freedom) Machines!
The numerical demand for automated navigation systems for people with mobility limits is small compared to that from people whose limitations do NOT affect their mobility. But Universal Design’s goal of inclusivity is helping improve these systems. Many people who use wheelchairs equate IMmobility with being in jail. Hence, the phrase, "confined to a wheelchair" is also politically INcorrect, having been REplaced by the watchword, “FREEDOM!”
It's no coincidence that several innovative "freedom machines" that are totally UNlike wheelchairs have appeared in the past few years. We offer three s-o-o-o radical examples for your enlightenment. As you read, think about whether each innovation ALSO meets any UD Principles BEYOND accessibility.
For example, the iBot can raise a seated rider to speak eye to eye with a standing adult. Ibots also climb up and down curbs and stairs (that have rails to grasp), and can navigate on UNeven ground. The owner or a helper can "drive" an UNoccupied iBot into a van by remote control. CLICK HERE to learn more about the iBot.
Another entry in the "Mobility Machine Race" is the Galileo power chair from Israel. This electric indoor/ outdoor chair offers user-maneuverability and the ability to travel stairs, steep inclines, and various terrains.
The Galileo features a height-adjustable seat that lowers to floor level, raises to standing level, and reclines to a full horizontal position. The chair also allows UNassisted ascent AND descent, facing the direction of motion while keeping the rider at an optimal combination of balance and comfort. For a MANUAL wheelchair to "do" stairs, usually a strong attendant (and maybe another helper) must pull or lift the chair BACKWARD (both up AND down) to avoid tipping the rider out.
The Galileo web site has COOL streaming video demonstrations of its products, including robotics, CLICK HERE and enjoy!
Our third example, the Human Transporter (HT), can carry an adult (with briefcase or handbag) in an upright position at a speed faster than walking. The rider can enjoy the fresh air, then stash the battery-operated 2-wheeler in the trunk of his/her car.
Typical HT users are urban workers, mail- and police-persons, and people with disabilities who can stand and steer. Business-persons use the scooter to zip around the city during lunch hour to run errands. They also explore suburban open spaces and gathering places, or just use the HT to return rented DVDs on warm, sunny weekends. Do you suppose that it's legal to ride an HT on city sidewalks?
The HT plugs
in to recharge, and
"sleeps" in the trunk. Credit: Segway
Police and postal workers who now use the Human Transporter formerly WALKED their beats or routes. On these portable wheels, they can cover many more blocks and neighborhoods with far fewer foot- and back-aches. In some major cities, transit officers patrol subway stations on board HTs.
The HT's manufacturer does NOT focus its marketing on the disability population, not wanting the HT to get a stigma as "just for the handi...." Yet individuals with disabilities who are able to ride the HT to the subway station and take it down the elevator, may commute to work (with their scooters onboard.) CLICK HERE to learn more about the activities the HT can help you do.
In some major cities, transit officers
patrol subway stations on HTs. But in one city, transit officers arrested
a woman with a disability who was using an HT. Their concerns were safety
(the HT could run off the platform onto the track) and subway crowding
(taking the HT on board during rush hours). We haven't heard how the
situation was resolved—you might Google it up.
For those of you who are crazy about robots, your teen robo-dream came to the tube in mid-2003, created by Rob Renzetti. Last we knew, Global Robot Response Unit XJ-9 (who prefers to be known simply as Jenny), the 6-foot tall robo-star of Nickelodeon’s “My Life as a Teenage Robot, was still on cable TV and selected DVDs (paired with other Nicktoons). She looks like a good center for your basketball team!
It’s the year 2072, and Jenny lives in the town of Tremorton. Her creator (a.k.a. mom), Dr. Wakeman designed XJ-9 as a highly sophisticated battle robot and wants her to stay away from the human race (even teenagers). But Jenny likes to go to the mall, fit in at school, and hang out with friends--instead of saving the world. If you can’t find her weekly escapades on the cable, look up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Life_as_a_Teenage_Robot.
|Quotable Quote: In Information Technology (IT), *accessibility* produces flex for all, and if done correctly, the industry can design mass-market products with NO need for a special line for persons with disabilities. For example, they are developing a small computer (the size of a wallet) whose features are the same for everyone, whether ablebodied or disabled (Vanderheiden, 2003).|
Credit: POLIS Project
YOUR REWARD for completing Lesson 3 is a LINK to the official J.K. Rowling site, which pioneers Macromedia Flash(r) technology and demonstrates best practice design. This awesome site, by Lightmaker, is in at least five languages and has an accessibility enabled version for disabled, deaf, and visually-impaired Net users.
Work with one or more other
teens who rely on such features, to learn just how its Accessibility
Menu makes the site accessible to people who otherwise could not enjoy
its pleasures. CLICK HERE: http://www.jkrowling.com.