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10 Most Famous Human Factors Labs In The World

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Tim Rhodes

Humans have always strived for perfection, and that’s why we have human factors labs!

We have always looked to improve further and optimize everything, no matter how good they already are. 

This desire to meet our very high standards have led us to new inventions and improved lifestyle by studying human factors.

To facilitate this, there are numerous human factors labs all over the world working around the clock to satisfy our needs and requirements by researching human factors.

Human Factors, or more technically, Ergonomics, is the study of how people behave and react to the things they use and the environment they face in their daily lives.

10 Most Famous Human Factors Labs In The World

A human factors specialist contributes to the redesigning and reevaluation of these products and environments to make them more suitable and compatible with the requirements and abilities of the people.

The main goal in considering human factors is to enhance productivity and comfort while simultaneously reducing human errors.

1. CIEHF

The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors previously named the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors and originally as The Ergonomics Society.

It is a United Kingdom-based society for human factors specialists and ergonomists.

It is among the oldest human factors institutions formed on 17 September 1946.

It started publishing its first human factors journal in 1957, and currently, the institute publishes six.

Society’s main aim is to research and gather knowledge and information about human characteristics and human factors to apply these while designing different products and devices.

In May 2014, they received an award of a Royal Charter by The Queen herself, allowing them to grant Chartered status to those members who meet the required criteria.

Just by the end of 2014, the human factors institute had around 1700 members and 294 eligible candidates seeking Chartered status with many more to follow.

Their vision is to improve the level and performance of the integrated design, and their mission is to become the most sought-after and professional voice for human factors.

The human factors research projects being funded by the laboratory include exploring visual search under different environmental conditions.

For this purpose, the human factors research team employs eye-tracking and other methods to minimize errors while performing under tough conditions, thus reducing the risk of failure.

The human factors institute has won many major awards, such as the President’s Medal and Sir Frederick Bartlett Award, recognizing their many contributions and research in the field of ergonomics and human factors.

2. HFEL, KAIST

Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory has the aim to develop and produce innovative methods and techniques which will further help us understand the interaction human beings have with normal daily life products.

Their main aim and mission are to minimize safety and health hazards as well as improving human performance by conducting research on human factors.

There are four major research areas in human factors where the organization claims to specialize.

The first research area in human factors is the design of technology to aid the elderly and aging people.

Their recent human factors research projects include artificial intelligence, wearable motion sensors that predict and prevent injuries caused by falling due to weakened skeletal and muscular systems.

Some of the current undergoing human factors research studies are focused on improving reactions and motor functions among the elderly by the use of touch screen gadgets as well as Google Glass, which helps bridge the gap between humans and computer interactions.

Second is the focus on the optimization of product design by considering human factors to make them extremely comfortable and compatible with the user.

The next area of human factors research is the Virtual Reality and the Augmented Reality domain where they strive to develop next-generation gadgets while also improving the issues in previous editions.

Last but not least is the research and analysis of human behavior and modeling things based on that knowledge such as biomechanical suits, etc.

The next step after collecting all this information about human factors is to plan new strategies that can help improve performance while performing such tasks.

3. HFEL, Mayo Clinic

As we are progressing in other areas of life, more emphasis is also laid on the medical field to up their game related to human factors as well. 

One such human factors lab is located at Mayo Clinic, where they work to research new and improved clinical methods and operations to provide satisfactory treatment to patients.

Their human factors research team comprises clinicians, scientists as well as patients to determine major health issues faced by them and then devising new methods to improve the quality of life.

They started conducting human factors research and studies regarding different human factors such as performance, problems in recognition and detection, and many more.

Their major focus is to help patients overcome injuries caused by major operations, which result in strains on muscles and joints.

The goal is to understand these concepts through human factors so thoroughly that they may be integrated perfectly to improve system performance and efficiency.

Moreover, they also aim to reduce the mental stress on surgeons who have to undergo long and complex surgeries that require immense mental strength and courage.

Another project is the correct interpretation of radiographic images such as mammograms, CT scans, etc. 

This can help in reducing diagnostic errors and improve the training of machines.

The human factors team is highly dependent on the quality of research carried out because they use that information to design products that satisfy user needs and analyze their functionality.

This research lab conducts extensive human factors research and studies in the three main fields, namely physical, cognitive, and organizational factors.

They have various human factors research labs carrying out just the research the team requires, such as research on anesthesia outcomes, anticancer drug action, artificial liver transplants, etc. 

4. AD&D Lab

Adult Development and Decision Laboratory, at the University of Central Florida, specializes in the domain of human decision-making and the neural mechanisms that are associated with these decision-making processes.

Cognitive Ergonomics is the study of brain activities such as memories, perceptions, etc.

Because they influence human behavior and performance as they interact with and are related to various environmental factors.

The process behind our decision-making changes as we age.

To study this decision-making system, the lab utilizes various research tools and techniques such as virtual reality, neuroimaging, behavioral paradigms, etc.

Some of these changes in cognitive decision-making processes can be attributed to the biological and physical changes taking place inside our bodies, while others are associated with psychological and social pressures.

This human factors research laboratory tries to understand these complex mechanisms using various methods at their disposal, such as cognitive tasks, emotional manipulation, etc.

Presently the research team at this facility is covering three main topics in human factors.

Most of our decisions are based on two types of memories, namely non-declarative (the ones we remember vaguely and only have a sense of what happened) and declarative ones (specific details from past events).

The research team at the lab tries to understand how these two human factors affect decisions taken by any individual.

The research team analyzes human behavior and human factors and then model things based on that knowledge, such as biomechanical suits, etc.

The other research areas include interventions as well as the effects of challenges on the decision-making process.

5. LiU Human-Factor Laboratory

The desire to travel and explore uncharted territories has led humans to develop faster and efficient traveling methods without any compromise on safety.

Keeping that in mind, the team at the LiU Human Factors Laboratory for future air systems is working to develop autonomous and remote-controlled aircraft, thus reducing any chance of human error caused by human factors while keeping the efficiency high as before.

The human factors research facility works on improving the performance of these robots by studying the activities taking place in the human brain and considering human factors while facing the same situation and under similar pressure.

The advancements in the field of computers have led companies to improve their products using human factors owing to the rapidly growing demand and competition.

The advantage of using robots is that they can work superbly under pressure because they don’t operate the same way as humans do; hence the chances of critical errors drop significantly.

Among numerous human factors research projects, some notable ones are robot control through a virtual reality where the user can see what the robot or aircraft sees.

This is successfully employed in stealth drones, where the use of robot pilots means the size of aircraft can be drastically decreased without decreasing the efficiency.

Another human factors research project is the flight simulator, where the pilot can experience everything he would do so in a real flight without actually stepping into a cockpit.

This helps in the training and testing of new pilots before they are allowed to fly the real craft.

This can help eradicate unwanted accidents caused by the lack of inexperience.

6. HFSM, University of Washington

At the Human Factors and Statistical Modeling Laboratory, the research and study is mainly related to understanding human behavior, human factors, and how it impacts the risks of accidents as well as injuries.

Their goal is to research and study the large human factors datasets and determine the reasons for mishaps and then devising methods to decrease or even eliminate the risks of fatalities.

Some of the undergoing human factors research projects include vehicle automation requiring less and, in some cases, no input from the user, which increases the safety of not only the user but also pedestrians and other drivers as well.

Another is the observation of factors causing stress to airplane pilots, causing them to make errors and misjudgments and working to minimize these.

After the war was over, the society broadened its studies to include system design more thoroughly.

Such factors proved to be the difference between successful and unsuccessful pilots because it was learned from studies that motivational factors greatly enhance human performance.

In the past, the facility has worked on various human factors-related projects, such as research they conducted on factors that cause distractions to drivers such as the use of mobile phones, conversations, speed-related, etc.

Neural networks are being designed to detect spam by studying and understanding how people classify spam and employing those same techniques.

One such project observes the age-related decline in various brain functions and develops various methods to help slow down those processes.

The main goal of this research lab is to analyze human factors related to transportations and improve them using the acquired knowledge.

7. MIT2 Laboratory

MIT2 stands for Minds in Technology, Machines in Thought. 

This facility is a virtual research lab at the University of Central Florida.

This research lab focuses on human factors such as studying stress, workload issues, and fatigue in demanding and dangerous environments, especially on the battlefield.

This human factors research lab started functioning during World War 2 when the concerns regarding performances and human errors peaked.

The team mainly observes the process behind how humans categorize things in their environment and, subsequently, how they make decisions.

During WW2, as well as the commencement of the cold war, research labs were expanding and more focus was being laid on improving the factors the forces have to face on the battlefield.

The human factors research team works extensively with the Army Research Lab and other such labs, working under the U.S. Department of Defense, and gathers critical information about factors that cause stress and then using different methods to alleviate some of these factors.

Different scenarios are created using different simulators such as battlefields and driving simulators or using virtual reality.

The interaction between humans and technology is observed in these scenarios, and after examining the shortcomings, efforts are made to overcome them.

Some of the projects they are working on nowadays include testing the efficiency of Google Glass to texting while driving.

The human tolerance of harsh and demanding environments and their effects on the mind and body are extensively studied.

8. IEA

The International Ergonomics Association was formed in 1959.

It is an organization associated with 52 other independent organizations working around the globe.

In September of 2008, the facility had 46 federated societies and two affiliated ones at their disposal.

The main aim of this facility is to increase communication between organizations through meetings and conferences. 

With the advent of the Information Age, communication was essential, and information was like gold to them. 

This would lead to the sharing of technical knowledge and other ideas, which can greatly help their progress.

Various projects are being worked on at the lab, all aimed at improving decision-making.

Research carried out at this human factors facility helps in designing user-friendly and interactive technologies and intelligent systems which nearly replicate the human brain.

Knowledge and information is a critical part of these facilities, and it would be impossible for them to carry out their services without proper feedback.

Their mission is to make advancements in the field of ergonomics and human factors on a large scale that could contribute to the well-being of society by improving their quality of life.

Their goal is to develop communications with other ergonomics organizations and take this field to such levels where it can benefit people all over the globe internationally.

9. IOM

The Institute of Occupational Medicine was founded in 1969, and its main focus is protecting workers from respiratory hazards and diseases.

The National Coal Board founded it, and at that time, the only research being conducted was on lung disease in coal mine workers.

Since then, they have upgraded to a large scale and now conduct research and studies on various factors which cause respiratory disorders in industrial workers.

To improve the safety of miners and other workers, the team started studying the human factors, and the design of personal protective equipment (PPE) was commenced in the 1970s.

The IOM is constantly working in various ergonomic fields, especially musculoskeletal disorders, heat stress, and the improvement of protective gear as the demands and requirements change over time.

A human factors specialist contributes to the redesigning and reevaluation of these products and environments to make them more suitable and compatible with the requirements and abilities of the people.

This institute has been in service for more than fifty years, and all the research they have collected over the years can be generalized into two founding questions.

The first is the quantity as well as the kind of exposure, which leads to adverse health.

Secondly, the levels which are considered safe have to be implemented to avoid health issues.

They employed various methods to minimize health hazards while maintaining efficiency, such as optimizing equipment and safety gear to increase the rate of work, thus reducing the exposure of laborers.

10. SAE International

SAE, previously known as The Society of Automotive Engineers, works to develop safety standards for all kinds of automobiles such as cars, trucks along with many others.

It is a large organization home to almost 128,000 engineers, along with other technical experts in various relevant fields.

So far, SAE has standardized various technicalities and practices in the automotive industry.

It has set the horsepower ratings, which take into account engine emissions as well as exhaust drags faced by the vehicle but does not include the transmission losses.

Moreover, SAE publishes various papers for the aerospace industry, which include recommendations regarding safety and well-being.

It has also proposed levels of driving automation, which help in the gradual transmission from human-driven cars to fully automated ones with automated decision-making capabilities.

Their mission is to discover as much knowledge as possible to integrate all kinds of systems and products in their domain.

The main goal is to enhance productivity and comfort while simultaneously reducing human errors in decision-making.

SAE organizes 12 Collegiate Design Competitions, which provide students with an opportunity to test their theoretical knowledge and promotes them to learn by designing and testing their products.

More than 10,000 students from 500 universities, acclaimed all over the world, take part in this competition and showcase their talents.

What Are The Methods Employed To Evaluate Human Factors And Weaknesses?

There are various methods that human factors specialists and ergonomists use to understand human behavior.

These methods range from simple questionnaires to complex methods; some of them are as follows.

One method is to use focus groups where one individual facilitates all the discussions and opinions regarding the problem related to human factors in question.

Another is the iterative design, where users are asked to test the product at various times during production to overcome the run time errors.

Then there are surveys and questionnaires which help gather the opinion of people regarding a product or environmental factor, and based on that knowledge, teams can redesign or re-evaluate various parameters.

Human performance modeling is another method employed to observe and understand behavior as well as brain activity during decision-making processes.

Think aloud protocol is another useful technique where users are asked to use a product or technology while continuously noting their thoughts, which helps identify the weak points.

Another method is time studies where a user is asked to complete a task, and the time taken by that particular user is recorded and used in further research.

One of the more rare techniques is the Wizard of Oz, where an operator remotely controls the operation of a product to simulate a somewhat similar response to a computer program.

The field methods employed can be extremely useful because they test the product within the user’s natural environment, but it has few limitations.

This method is extremely costly and requires a large number of resources.

It requires long planning and recruitments before the method can be employed.

Moreover, the study is long-term and requires a lot of time from the volunteers and users.

Final Thoughts

As you can already conclude, there are various organizations in the world working to improve the quality of life by gathering knowledge about human behavior and human factors.

Knowledge and information is a critical part of these human factors facilities, and it would be impossible for them to carry out their services without proper feedback.

We can help these human factors organizations by becoming a member of their team and helping them in their extensive research and studies.

These human factors labs are always in need of volunteers to become a part of their team to test their knowledge and products and to increase their sample size.

The greater the sample size, the more information they can collect, and subsequently, the improvements can be made.

So, these are the ten most famous human factors labs out there!

And if you see one that should be on this list and we missed, do let us know in the comments.

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