World-renowned furniture research centre, FIRA International, has made an investment in excess of £10,000 in pressure mapping equipment, broadening the range of testing methods it can offer its furniture industry clients.
The Tekscan pressure mapping tool enables the FIRA Ergonomics team to measure how a personís weight is distributed when sitting on a chair, or lying in a bed.
The mapping tool, which is connected to a computer, can be placed on an item of furniture to measure how people position themselves. The mapping tool highlights areas of the personís body which exerts the most pressure on the furniture product, allowing FIRA to assess the userís perceived levels of comfort based on the readings from the tool.
Through testing using the pressure mapping tool, FIRA Ergonomists will be able to advise the furniture designer or manufacturer of how the product could be redesigned or readjusted to make it feel more comfortable for the end users, or to suggest areas of the chair which may need to be reinforced due to the higher level of pressure which some areas may receive. The comfort of a seat could be somewhat subjective, with different people finding different products comfortable. However, together with comfort questionnaires the Tekscan equipment will make the assessment process more objective. For example, the equipment will show if a chair exerts excessive pressure on the back of a personís legs whilst they are seated, potentially making them feel uncomfortable and becoming fidgety and fatigued sooner.
Levent Caglar, FIRAís Senior Ergonomist said, ďThe Tekscan equipment will allow us to look at where the centre of gravity of a person lies when they use a chair. We will be able to use the equipment to assess any additional strain that is placed on the product in particular areas, as well as letting us look at how weight distribution affects the stability, strength and design of a furniture product. By using the Tekscan equipment on a new furniture design we will be able to highlight any potential comfort issues and make suggestions of how the design could be improved before it goes on sale.Ē
The new piece of pressure mapping equipment will also be used in a future FIRA project examining the standards required for producing bariatric furniture. This research will then be used to provide a basis for a FIRA bariatric standard.