Keith S. Karn, PhD, Bresslergroup’s Director of User Research and Human Factors, is a contributor to the Spring 2015 issue of Innovation, the quarterly of the Industrial Designers Society of America. The Spring 2015 issue, guest-edited by Dr. Bryce Rutter, explores the hand, delving “into all things related to designing products that are seamless extensions of our hands and mind.”
In “What Separates Us: Bridging the Gap Between Researchers and Practitioners,” Karn focuses on the thumb, a victim of its own popularity in this age of texting. Excessive texting has led to an increase in pathologies of the thumb, including gamer’s thumb, texting thumb, joint arthritis, and tendonitis.
“Obviously we’re not getting it right,” Karn writes. “What can we, as designers, do to provide safer products?” Anthropometric data is typically all designers have at their disposal, and it is letting designers down. He proposes that designers create their own studies to collect product-specific data when designing thumb-actuated devices, at least until computer modeling catches up with designers’ and users’ needs.