Human dexterity and physical abilities
ERGONOMICS   Technical University of Berlin

   Institut for Ergonomics


Focus of project research

During the first phase of research funding, this subproject aims to compile product-independent guidelines for designing and assessing household appliances suited to senior citizens. Based on an analysis of how older people tackle everyday tasks and demands -- following an "activities of daily living" concept -- the team is investigating the abilities and skills of older people. The study also provides insight into the interaction of humans and technology, and the problems that might arise for older people. In this connection, older people are purposely confronted with selected technologies.
In the second phase of research funding, we will run the usual check on the design and assessment guidelines against the new or modified technologies that have been developed in accordance with them.
For the first funding phase (1997-1999), the following steps are planned in conjunction with the other subproject teams:

1. Deficit analysis

In the context of the deficit analysis, the research team will investigate both the existing abilities of the participants for interacting with technology, and which appliance features prevent their uncomplicated and independent operation. Of primary interest here is to identify the technology gaps for fulfilling everyday needs and tasks, and to see how existing technology can be modified and adjusted to the abilities of older people, whether in a "design for all" or other concept.

To achieve these goals the following steps are planned:

  1. Literature review
  2. Data collection of "critical incidents" experienced by older people in their dealings with technology by means of a self-designed catalog of questions. This will follow the "critical incident" as well as "typical day, week, and year" approach in identifying the range of everyday tasks involved in maintaining an independent lifestyle, including observation of how older people deal with technology. The target age-groups here are 55 to 64 year-olds, 65 to 74 year-olds, and those over age 75.
  3. Definition of existing technology shown to be crucial in the surveys and interviews.
    • Identification of problems in operating selected technologies as determined in conjunction with the other subprojects
    • Identification of concrete appliances for further analyses as to their design deficits and design demands

2. Investigation of the hands-on operation of selected products/appliances and analysis of the human-machine interaction

  • Determination of the possible performance range of the study participants (sensory, motor, and cognitive skills) by means of appropriate methods
  • Carrying out experiments to locate design deficits

3. Deduction of the design and assessment guidelines decisive for further research on product development or modification of existing products

  • Proposal for a design and assessment system along with corresponding guidelines
  • Discussion and approval of proposal by entire research team


Prof. Dr. med. habil. Wolfgang Friesdorf
phone: +49 - 30 - 314795 - 06

Project team:

Dipl.-Sowi. Ulrich Henning
phone: +49 - 30 - 314794 - 77

Address: Technische UniversitŐt Berlin
Ergonomics and Product Ergonomic
Sekretariat: HH9
Steinplatz 1
D-10623 Berlin
phone: +49 - 30 - 314795 - 06
fax: +49 - 30 - 314795 - 07


Ergonomics literature

  • Luczak, Arbeitswissenschaft, Springer Verlag Berlin
  • Schmidtke, H.: Ergonomie, Carl Hanser Verlag Mčnchen Wien 1993
  • Bullinger: Ergonomie-Produkt- und Arbeitsplatzgestaltung, Teubner Verlag Stuttgart
  • Rohmert, W., Rutenfranz, J.: Praktische Arbeitsphysiologie, Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgrat New York, 1983

Project-related literature

  • Mayer, K.U., Baltes, P.B.: Die Berliner Altersstudie, Akademie Verlag GmbH Berlin, 1996
  • Baltes, P. B., Mittelstraž, J.: Zukunft des Alterns und gesellschaftliche Entwicklung, Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York, 1992
  • Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Technik fčr Senioren - Mehr Menschlichkeit fčr weniger Geld? , Tagungsband des Fraunhofer-Forums, Mčnchen, 1996
  • Niederfranke, A., Lehr, U.M., Oswald, F., Maier, G.:Altern in unserer Zeit - BeitrŐge der IV. und V. Gerontolo-gischen Woche am Institut fčr Gerontologie Heidelberg, Quelle&Meyer Verlag, Heidelberg Wiesbaden, 1992
  • Biermann, H., Weižmantel, H.: Seniorengerechtes Konstruieren SENSI - Das Design seniorengerechter GerŐte, Forschungsbericht, VDI-Reihe 1 Nr. 247, Dčsseldorf, VDI-Verlag, 1995


  • Zeitschrift fčr Gerontologie und Geriatrie
  • Journal of Gerontology
  • Applied Ergonomics
  • Ergonomics
  • Human factors


Internet and e-mail Resources on Aging

Gerontology Resources on the WWW

The WWW Virtual Library: Conferences


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