The Humans Factors and Ergonomic Society of Australia (HFESA) has produced a podcast featuring a conversation between Thom Loveday and Sharon Todd, the President of HFESA. The podcasts can be accessed via the HFESA website or the HFE Hub website.
Thom Loveday is a multi-specialist, with extensive experience providing advice on Human Centred Design to (1) drive innovation (2) improve User Experience; (3) manage Human Factors; and (4) shape Organisational Behaviour. Much of his career has been spent in high-risk, high-consequence industries, demonstrating a high-level of rigour and robustness in his work.
Understanding the Impact of Human Factors in Modern Transport Systems
Thom Loveday delves into some pressing concerns in the realm of transportation. Discussion is had regarding the role of human factors in train systems, especially those in Sydney. The integration of human-machine interfaces in modern transport systems brings forth challenges like glare issues on digital screens and windows. This isn’t merely a matter of comfort, but of safety and functionality. Often, drivers have to reduce their line of sight to a mere sliver to manage glare, which could potentially compromise safety and effectiveness. The role of human factors engineering here is to develop interfaces that suit human capabilities and limitations, ensuring that drivers can safely operate the trains under various conditions.
Evolution of Human-Centred Design in Diverse Industries
Another highlight of the podcast was the discussion about the evolution of human-centred design. Initially focused on static web content and desktop software, this field has expanded to include professionals from marketing, organisational design, and user experience, to name a few. Each industry has brought its unique perspective to human-centred design, enriching the toolbox with methodologies from various disciplines. For instance, concept development and ideation are now core components of the field, largely due to influences from creative industries. Storyboarding, initially developed for cinema, has been adapted as a useful tool for designing user experiences. This diversification of methodologies underscores how far the field has evolved and how various industries are recognising the value of a human-centred approach.
The Future of Human Factors: Challenges and Opportunities
The podcast touches on pressing concerns about the future of human factors and ergonomics. One such issue is the increasing demand for practitioners in the field, despite a decline in educational programmes. This situation calls for a reassessment of the available educational pathways, especially given the diversifying roles that human factors practitioners are expected to fill. Interestingly, the podcast touched on the possibility that future roles in data analysis might be filled by machines like ChatGPT. This technological shift puts the spotlight back on the fundamental skills of human factors practitioners: unbiased data collection and user research. These skills will likely remain irreplaceable and may even grow in importance as machine learning technologies become more sophisticated.
Each of these discussions from the podcast offers a valuable lens through which we can view the current state and future trends of human factors and ergonomics. Whether it’s the specific challenges in transportation systems or the broadening horizons of human-centred design, the field continues to evolve, adapting to emerging challenges and integrating new approaches.
Why Tune In?
These podcasts are a series of educational podcasts from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA). These podcasts focus on the connection between human capabilities and good design. Their aim is to promote the field of Human Factors and Ergonomics and provide guidance and professional development.
This podcast is relevant to those interested in human-centred design, Human Factors and Ergonomics across various domains, and the intricate relationship between humans and technology. Professionals such as engineers, user experience designers, organisational psychologists, and academics focusing on human-computer interaction will find invaluable insights in the discussion presented. The podcast covers a broad range of topics, from the role of human factors in different industries to its evolution in Australia, making it a must-listen for anyone invested in understanding the complexities of human-technology interactions and industry innovation.
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Prepared by Michael Dubos