The New Era of Commercial Space and Private Astronauts Requires a Renewed Focus on Human Centered Design
Human spaceflight is entering a new era. Private astronauts will be launched into space by commercial space companies this year including one company’s own chief executive. Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin will be one of four passengers that include his brother, an auction winner, and a yet to be announced guest aboard the first human passenger flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard. The flight will last a total of 11 minutes, including three minutes of weightlessness once they reach the Kármán line 62-miles-above sea level. This first human flight for New Shepard will be monumental for commercial space travel as the passengers are not professional astronauts and there will be no pilot onboard. New Shepard is an automated vehicle and does not require the private astronauts to take an active role in flight operations. This leaves more time for other activities such as sightseeing, science, or technology demonstration depending on the purpose of the flight. The vehicle’s automated systems limit the crew’s operational role and emphasizes the need for extremely reliable and robust systems that work and perform as designed. This level of automation requires a comprehensive understanding of human centered design principles and a design strategy focused on human system integration.
Human-centered design (HCD) is vital to the success of automated technologies especially those utilized for human spaceflight. The vehicle and the humans aboard must be prepared to endure launch, operate in the vacuum of space, accomplish mission objectives, and re-enter the atmosphere and land safely. While the crew may not be actively piloting New Shepard, they will be expected to interface with many flight displays to successfully complete mission tasks. This is not as straightforward as it may sound. Interacting successfully with technology requires a design that provides information to the operators in an easily understood manner, enabling them to make decisions and take appropriate actions at the right time. Spaceflight is especially challenging with respect to interface acceptability because the operator is changing over the course of the mission due to unique exposures.
The major spaceflight exposure of interest for this first private astronaut flight on New Shepard is microgravity. It will be important for the private astronauts to be familiar with provocative or unexpected experience. They will need to be exposed to various g-levels using simulators such as centrifuges and parabolic flight. These exposures will provide the sensations they may experience during various stages of the flight such as headward fluid shift and motion sickness. Data from these pre-flight experiences will assist in a personalized approach for treatment if needed for common issues such as motion sickness. While unlikely to be serious during New Shepard’s short exposure to microgravity, motion sickness can make any trip uncomfortable and detract from the amazing experience. In fact, many of the early adaptive responses to spaceflight can influence functions such as reaction time, eye/hand coordination, and standing and walking post flight. The HCD approach includes assessment of how the human will change and adapt during the mission and inform vehicle and mission design.
Sophic’s approach to HCD encompasses a variety of disciplines and techniques to assess and ensure effective design through comprehensive human system integration including human safety, usability principles, and human adaptation expertise for spaceflight. This approach achieves optimized solutions for both the user and the project teams and ensuring successful and safe missions every time!
Sophic Synergistics provides expertise in human-centered design to our clients to ensure that their products and services comprehensively address the users’ needs in the safest and most efficient manner. This evidenced-based approach adds value to the client and the consumer. As part of the process, Sophic recognizes the importance of identifying the needs and requirements associated with gender and sex. One size fits all is often not the case and there are solutions to maximize the utility and safety of your product or process while addressing the needs of various demographic groups. Sophic has joined forces with iGIANT as one of the co-chairs of the virtual iGIANT® Retail Design Summit. This is an exciting opportunity to highlight your design and discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with meeting the needs presented by gender and sex diversity.
We look forward to Seeing you there!
You are cordially invited to participate in a virtual Retail Design Summit which will explore the impact of gender and sex on innovation and novel technologies (iGIANT®) for the retail sector. Please see the details below:
iGIANT® Retail Design Summit
Date: April 13, 2021
Time: 4:00-5:15 PM EST
Gender and sex impact every aspect of our daily lives. For example, men and women respond differently to the same doses of medications and vaccines. Some products such as shoes and clothing, sports and personal protective equipment, and tools and hardware seem to have separate designs for men and women.
However, it’s important to distinguish between a simple change in aesthetics and a design that actually addresses factors such as anthropometry (body proportion) and movement which can influence how people experience these products. Each small detail and seemingly insignificant change in design can heavily impact how we perform at work, school and in our leisurely activities. https://www.igiant.org/single-post/igiant-retail-design-summit
iGIANT, a nonprofit, was designed at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. iGIANT hosts a series of roundtables, summits, challenge competitions, scholarships and seals of approval to accelerate the translation of research into gender/sex-specific design elements. A design element can be a program, product, policy or protocol. Since its inception in 2017, there have been over 80 events around the globe, 5 challenge competitions and an IT Seal of approval for design processes. It’s the only nonprofit in the world doing such work.
iGIANT is committed to ensuring that everyone is given the resources, opportunities and tools to do their jobs safely and live well. The purpose of the Retail Design Summit is to establish a common dialog about best design practices that consider gender/sex differences and to inspire participants to serve as ambassadors for innovation. These events have convened stakeholders from government, industry, academia and advocacy groups.
You are invited to give a brief overview (under 3 minutes) of your design element (no slides) or even just your interest in this area. We understand that some information is proprietary and disclosure may be limited. Following this exciting dialog, there will be a discussion on challenges and opportunities to further accelerate precision innovation and design since everyone is now an ambassador for innovation!
Please RSVP by March 20, 2021:
Please feel free to extend this invitation to your network.
This summit will benefit from your participation which will inspire people to peer through a gender/sex lens so they can envision creative solutions to improve all our lives.
Saralyn Mark, MD
Eliza Chin, MD, MPH
American Medical Women’s Association
Jennifer Fogarty, PhD
Director of Applied Health and Extreme Environments
Sophic Synergistics, LLC
Stephen Shaya, MD
Chief Executive Officer
Looking for some last-minute gift ideas? We’ve got you covered!
The Sophic Team put together a list of items that are designed well and user friendly.
Home Office Basics
Staying in one position for too long gets uncomfortable and has long-term consequences for your body. Instead, opt for a dynamic workstation that promotes a healthier approach to teleworking with encouraged movement. Designed with ergonomics in mind, your work station becomes a flexible space that gives you the freedom to sit, stand, and everything in between! The Uplift Sit/Stand Desk’s customizable features allow you to tailor your workstation to you, helping to eliminate negative effects of poor posture when you are forced to fit the design!
If you don’t have room in your office (or budget) for a sit/stand desk and you often find your laptop overheating, try this product that provides a 2-for-1 solution. With so many options to choose from, The Aicheson Laptop Cooling Pad tops the list because of its thoughtful features. This adjustable laptop stand has a five-fan multi-speed cooling element, increasing air circulation through your device that will reduce wear and tear on your equipment! Using one of five adjustable height settings along with a bezel, you can raise your laptop closer to eye level – your day will go by with ease while avoiding neck and back pain associated with a forced downward perspective caused by placement at the wrong eye height.
When we buy tech products, we have expectations. One that is universal, is that it will not introduce new challenges. We recommend the Waitiee Wireless Charger because it works as advertised, compared to many of its competitors. This device charges up to three gadgets at once while consolidating all chargers into one station, with one cord, and one outlet. More people at home, means more gadgets looking for plugs!
Bonus: you can turn the status light on and off, avoiding that pesky glow when you’re trying to snooze!
With everyone at home trying to get through their meetings, headphones are now a staple of our daily routine. There are many options when it comes to Bluetooth headsets, the most popular among the Sophic staff are Apple AirPods. Built with user needs in mind, AirPods have various unique features that make them a versatile top choice. Some of the smart features include: audio sharing with multiple sets of AirPods for a shared experience, noise cancellation for that private call that needs your full attention, earbud detection so that you can use one or both (with the sound adapting immediately), and a charging case that gives you multiple charges.
P.S. For our non-Apple friends, try the Sony WF1000XM3 Wireless Headphones for an Android-friendly alternative that has similar features to the Apple AirPods.
Happy Cyber Monday!
The #SophicTeam put together a collage of tech products that we feel would make great gifts for friends, family, or yourself!
These items are designed well, made with the user in mind, and will make your life easier like a good design should! Happy shopping!
Normal picture frames limit you to one picture. This frame gives you a gallery of your memories with a continuous reel of photos. Set-up is simple: just upload photos straight from your phone through WiFi.
Let’s be honest… who doesn’t feel the need to over-sanitize everything these days? Especially products you touch throughout the day like your phone or glasses! Protect yourself from harmful bacteria and viruses with the help of a powerful UV light sanitizer.
When is the last time you made a cup of coffee, started working, and your coffee got cold? If you’re anything like us, probably every morning! This mug allows you to control the temperature of your drink with the ease of your phone. When not in use, this mug has a smart safety feature that prevents it from overheating.
More wireless devices means more charging cords… not with this charging station! This is the most user-friendly way to power your devices while reducing clutter and freeing up outlets.
Ever considered bringing your phone charger when you leave your house? Chances are, you’re probably going to need it! This bracelet is not only stylish, it is a charging cord that is easy to use and convenient. Never stress about a low phone battery again! Made for the person that’s always on the go!
These wireless headphones are all about user freedom! You can use one or both earbuds, connect to any of your bluetooth devices, and you have audio controls on the earbuds themselves! The charging case also gives you multiple charges for even more music jamming and conference calls.
The successful return of Dragon Endeavor marks the first U.S. splashdown in over 4 decades since the Apollo program. This has been a monumental feat, for both commercial contractors and the nation, as it is also the first vehicle to launch from U.S. soil in 9 years, since the retirement of Shuttle.