Applications of Human Factor Theory

  • Design Limit approach = so a “desired” portion of the population is included.
  • The importance of our assignment (and in our jobs as designers) is in how we translate the hard scientific data into an experience.
  • Fun fact: the classic posture data figures are named Joe and Josephine.
  • People are finally starting to measure people outside of the American military. eg “Size China” –
  • Glossary terms: reach envelopes + sight lines

Averages and extreme percentiles only exist in data. No human fits into the criteria of a 5th, 50th or 95th percentile human. See below, all of these rectangles exist. It gives the average of the cube , but the cube does not exist in real life.


If you add up all the proportions of a 95th percentile human, they’ll be taller than the overall height of a 95th percentile human. Proportions don’t scale evenly.

For example, a 5th percentile height military pilot was not able to turn the yolk on a plane because her legs were larger than 5th percentile legs. She needs the leg distance of a 5th, but the thigh allowance of a 30th. It seems obvious, but when you look at the data in nice straight lines, this obvious observation is a faraway abstraction.

The 4 people you look at to evaluate a population should be at the outer extremes in 4 directions (short + wide, tall + wide, short + thin, tall + thin).

When it really matters,
– my favourite thing that Peter has ever said.

Anthropometric data is like Relativity. It’s accurate and correct, but totally abstract.

Prototyping and testing is like Newtonian Mechanics. It’s messy and wrong, but it’s something we can work with.

Book on spacesuit design / Berlei / Apollo

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