Evaluate and redesign a hand tool using an ergonomic testing tool, focusing on the user experience and sculptural form. For this, I chose hair clippers.
Product Name: WHAL Color Pro Hair Clippers
To trim short hair at different lengths
Used to fade hair lengths
Observed Physical Features:
Made of harder plastics
It has multiple colored guards with a guide on the handle to show lengths
It has a lever to switch between guard sizes
Not professionals (at-home kit)
Used by adults but used on heads of all ages and genders who have short/shaved hair
Evaluating the WAHL Color Pro Clippers
The corded WAHL clippers were heavy and their guards were difficult to use.
Most opted to hold the clipper body up by the blades where it had the most weight, which decreased the leverage the user had, making them bend their wrist more than necessary.
Each person held the clipper body in one of three hand positions; Overhand, Underhand, or Pencil.
When given no instructions most people held the clippers overhand, however underhand is the most ergonomic position because it allows the hand to use the bigger muscle of the wrist.
I have been cutting my own hair since the start of the pandemic in 2020, and continue to do so to save money while I'm in college.
I have a hard time getting around my ears since I have a smaller head.
To get my whole head I had to get into uncomfortable positions, especially since I didn’t trust myself to use my non-dominant hand with these clippers.
The blade head did pop off after falling into my sink.
Explore clipper body shapes to find a form that would be comfortable in the 3 main hand positions; over-hand, under-hand, pencil.
Determine a location for the user interface (power button, charging cord, etc) that was easy to find, but out of the way.
Make it look user-friendly, something a beginner would not be daunted to use.
Explore how the form could change for clippers that are used by the user on themselves, or by the user on another person.
Creating the Testing Tool
6 Clipper Bodies (Straight, Curved, Robust)
1 Clipper Blade that could lock into 3 different angles
Created by laser cutting a silhouette and gluing 6 lb. foam to either side. then carving the foam to shape. A singular clipper blade piece was made that would attach with pins to the clipper bodies.
Testing the Tool
The first part had users give general knowledge about themselves (age, hand size, experience) and their perception of the Clipper Bodies from looks alone.
The second part had the users test all of the Clipper Body and Blade Angle combinations, they were required to do 3 actions on a mannequin head and on themselves. These actions explored all of the hand positions by having them do the side of the head, the back of the head, and around the ear.
The last part drew conclusions, they scored each combination from 1-5 (5 being best), and explained what clipper body was their favorite and why, and least favorite and why. I also had the users place a pin where they would want to see the power switch on each clipper body.
Expanding on the Results
The test showed that the majority felt that Clipper Body A was the most comfortable and this was because of the narrow by-long build, the second favorite was D. No one could directly explain why this rated high, but from observation, I was able to assume that is was the curve of the body in correlation to the blade angle, it just worked. So I decided to do another clipper body, this one mixing the silhouette of D with the narrow frame of A. D 2.0 would prove to be more comfortable than its counterparts and would be the shape I would continue with.
I initially drew this concept to play where the parting lines could go, and how that may affect the shape, in the end, it just felt elegant in the way it flowed and could challenge me with how to apply the details with hierarchy in mind. I also started to think of other features that may make the user experience better, one being a lock and effect button for the guards to reduce the repetitive action and struggle of replacing guards.
Making the Model
I drew out an ortho sketch of the original concept and made a model based on that, when making that model I made slight changes to the form and the power button and so I made another ortho which was used in making the final model.