Vacuum Cleaner SQ Research

Vacuum Cleaner SQ Research

Theory and Practice. Product design is about user experience. And user experience can be modeled, measured and tested. Product development is often about design intuition of user experience, but it is far less common for product development to measure the user and to include the sciences of human perception and preference. 


Orfield Laboratories in the nation’s only independent multi-sensory consulting laboratory, providing design, research and testing to the product field via the use of both objective and subjective design, research and testing.  Our product consulting includes acoustical performance, AV media performance, visual performance, thermal comfort performance, and subjective research and measurement.


Our orientation is to focus on perceptual comfort, design clarity, satisfaction and preference as user experience benchmarks.


Perception can be a negative or positive filter for user experience, and productivity, satisfaction and complaints are most commonly associated with the perceptual and human factors side of product design.  Products that are visual clear, easy to use, are quiet, have comfortable thermal characteristics and don't impact indoor air quality generate far more positive user response and far fewer complaints.

The project on the right is a sound quality project. We are using one of our Head and Torso Simulators (HATS) to binaurally record vacuum cleaners in different modes of operation for later playback to a Sound Quality Jury of demographically recruited consumers. The binaural recordings, played back on high quality Sennheiser headsets, are three dimensional, so the listener can hear from left to right, from up to down, and from back to front.

Harley Davidson SQ Research Talladega Speedway

Harley Davidson SQ Research Talladega Speedway

Specialties. In the product development field, we consult in many product types including appliances, vehicles, audio visual, medical, aircraft, tools, lawn products and many others. With a specialty in human perception, we approach each of these product types with a special focus on human comfort, performance and preference.  Many of our product projects have been published. We founded the first sound quality collaboration, the Sound Quality Working Group (SQWG),. We have convened 20 SQWG sound quality conferences at Orfield Labs.

Orfield Labs has a specialty in perceptual and cognitive disabilities, and their application to the newer field of perceptual and cognitive universal design.  We have a strong interest in products in the disability field, including aging, autism, mental illness, PTSD, SPD, ADHD, and we have developed the process and practice of perceptual design for products and environments.

The Harley Davidson Sound Quality research was recorded with our HATS Torso at the Talledega Super Speedway, but attaching the Torso and a DAT recorder on the back of a test rider and recording many different aspects of different motorcycles sound. These recordings were then played back to Harley riders, who took written tests to select which sounds were "powerful", "expensive", "high quality", and "exciting".

Aircraft Interior Binaural SQ Recording

Aircraft Interior Binaural SQ Recording

Philosophy. It is our belief that clients and design teams can complete exceptional product development in normal budget ranges if the focus is on the user groups, and the budgets favor this focus. Excellent products are more about knowledge and the application of good process than about budgets.

This project, with Cessna Aircraft, was to provide definitions of which types of operational sounds were most important to corporate aircraft owners, and what each of these sounds should sound like.  This project helped to make the Citation X, the worlds fastest executive jet, one of the best sounding aircraft in its class, by having flight subjects compare it to the sounds of competitors which were also recorded by Orfield Labs.

Orfield Acoustic Camera in Anechoic Chamber

Orfield Acoustic Camera in Anechoic Chamber

Summary. Whether our product development clients are looking for single discipline consulting assistance or comprehensive research-based design and testing, the firm has an extensive track record in these fields, along with a nearly five decade range of experience in leading our fields in this type of work.  We founded the Sound Quality Working Group in 1991, sponsored by Bruel & Kjaer, TEAC, Sennheiser, Yamaha, SMS, Ansys, Cortex and LabView.  We taught 10 years of seminars to the Fortune 1000, and we performed millions of dollars in Sound Quality studies, which changed the history of many of thee product categories.