End-Users Help Design Mass Transport Seats 2002-01-0780
TNO's ergonomic innovation group let the end-user participate in the design of new commuter train seats. In a field test commuter's sitting behavior was studied to chart the passengers' activities, posture, size and movements. In the Netherlands the sitting behavior measurements were used for setting up a test of existing seats serving as benchmarks. 18 test subjects were asked to sit for 1 hour while maintaining specific postures that resembled postures observed in the field test. During expert meetings the test results and all the specific information from the end-users concerning redesign were used to establish modifications to the existing seats. Those modifications were tested again with the subjects leading to the final design recommendations.
The seat manufacturer built a prototype with improved seat angles, lumbar support, shin space and headrest. In a paired comparison test the prototype was tested against the existing benchmark seat. The results: 83% of the subjects preferred the new seat for commuting 1 to 2 hours. The seat scored better on important features like sleeping, leg stretching and ingress-egress. The method of letting end-users participate in the evaluation of an existing seat appears to have worked. The American commuter will get a comfortable to very comfortable seat.