Vacuum Cleaner SQ Research
Theory and Practice. Product design must be about great 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. Intuitive design is not enough; we need science.
Orfield Laboratories in the nation’s only independent multi-sensory design research consulting laboratory, providing design, research and testing to the product field via the use of both objective and subjective methods. 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.
Human 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 visually clear, easy to use, are perceptually 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 evaluation 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 professionally calibrated headsets, are three dimensional, so the listener can hear from left to right, from up to down, and from back to front for an accurate spatial experience.
Harley Davidson SQ Research Talladega Speedway
Specialties. In the product development field, we consult on many product types including appliances, vehicles, audio-visual systems, medical products, aircraft, tools, lawn products, consumer electronics, etc. 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 worldwide, the Sound Quality Working Group (SQWG),. We have convened over 20 international SQWG sound quality conferences at Orfield Labs as lecture and workshop experiences, and we continue to design custom training for our clients.
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, ADHD, mental illness, PTSD, SPD, blindness and deafness, and we have developed a complex process and practice of perceptual design for products and environments.
The Harley Davidson Sound Quality Studies included recordings with our HATS Torso at the Talledega Super Speedway, by attaching the Torso and an instrumentation DAT recorder to the back of a test rider and recording many different aspects of different motorcycle sounds. These recordings were then played back to Harley riders, who took written tests to select which sounds were "powerful", "expensive", "high quality", and "exciting". A statistical spreadsheet correlated subjective sound ratings with acoustic instrumentation measurement, so that we could develop calculational models which our clients could use to engineer the targeted improvements.
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, and the budgets favor this focus. Excellent products result from deep knowledge and the application of high-end research and design processes. This can be done within limited budgets. And since many parts of product design can be virtual in the visual and auditory domain, budgets can often be reduced dramatically from normal budgets as validation can occur before repeated prototyping of the products at different stages. This can also save substantial time as virtual consulting is far more efficiently accomplished.
This project, with Cessna Aircraft, was to provide definitions of which types of operational sounds were most important to corporate aircraft owners, and what feelings each of these sounds should elicit. This project helped to make the Citation X, the worlds fastest executive jet, 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
Summary. Whether our product development clients are looking for single discipline consulting assistance or comprehensive research-based multi-sensory design and testing, the firm has an extensive track record in these fields, along with a nearly five decade depth of experience in leading our fields in this type of work. We founded the Sound Quality Working Group in 1991, sponsored by Bruel & Kjaer, Sennheiser, Cortex, Yamaha, TEAC, SMS, Ansys, and LabView. We taught 10 years of seminars to the Fortune 1000, and we have completed many millions of dollars in Sound Quality studies, which changed the history of many of these product categories.