Seamless: No More Calling Restaurants

Seamless is taking over the takeout industry. Seamless is a website that allows you to order food from restaurants in your area without having to call. The benefits of this website are tremendous. No more having to deal with miscommunication, saying your credit card number three times, and it is so much faster than ordering on the phone. Seamless allows you to access hundreds of restaurants in your area and order on your own terms. The entire menu is available on their website and it allows you to customize your order to your liking.

Seamless

When talking on the phone with a restaurant it is so easy for there to be annoyances. When ordering, the worker may not understand what you’re saying or your phone isn’t loud enough. This leads to many mistakes in the ordering process. Also, for tasks such as giving your credit card number, Seamless makes this much easier. Your credit card and address is automatically saved to your Seamless account. This makes it easier for restaurants to have your correct information so they don’t have to call back if they have the wrong credit card number or the delivery man call because he can’t find your home.

The ease of ordering exactly what you want is what also adds to Seamless’s appeal. People usually do not want to seem difficult in explaining exactly what they want. This leads to people timidly trying to explain to a restaurant worker on the phone how they would like their dish or maybe them not even saying it at all, therefore unsatisfied with their final meal. Seamless allows people to add notes and customize their meal to exactly how they would like without the difficulty of having to portray what they want over the phone. Also, since they don’t have to deal with any explaining or miscommunication, it makes the ordering process a lot easier. Specifically, Seamless saves your previous orders and the exact comments you made on how you like your dish so you can easily reorder. This shortcut saves a lot of time especially since people quite often eat the same food from the same restaurants.

Seamless order confirmation. Shows specific orders and customization, as well as saved credit card and address.

Seamless made this website with users in mind. It simplifies the task of ordering and makes people more comfortable and satisfied with their meals. Seamless takes away all the bad parts about ordering and just lets people focus on good food.

Holy Guacamole!

Everyone knows what a potato masher is. But, another popular mashed food is avocados. However, most people don’t own an avocado masher and not many avocado mashers are even available on the market. In aspects of human factors, I immediately wondered why this wouldn’t be a more popular product, especially with dishes such as avocado toast becoming so popular these past years. However, with more research I realized this was the classic situation of “If it’s not broke don’t fix it”.

Avocado Masher

Most people mash an avocado with a fork or with a potato masher. Even when Chipotle released their famous guacamole recipe, they recommend mashing the avocado with one of those two options, an avocado masher is never mentioned. The reason why I feel the avocado masher hasn’t become popular is because of the fork and potato masher. When enjoying avocados people either like it “chunky” or “creamy”. The fork gives a chunky texture because when it mashes the avocado it isn’t strong enough or have thin enough tongs to mash the avocado more finely. This chunky style of mashed avocados is perfect for avocado toast. Many cafes even use a fork to mash avocados for their avocado toast because they realize it gives the perfect consistency. The potato masher is also a viable option for mashing avocados, however, the potato masher makes a creamier consistency which would be good for guacamole. Potato mashers also are very similar to the avocado mashers on the market.

The invention of the avocado masher relates to human factors because it shows when designs are necessary and helpful for people. Regular avocado mashers are not popular since there are easier, cheaper options that many opt for. However, many avocado products that are popular involve removing the pit and cutting the avocado open in the first place. This is an issue that actually affects people and I know a common injury is people cutting themselves while cutting an avocado. The pit in the middle makes it very difficult to open and therefore a product for this is helpful. Knowing what problems users actually need improvement with is an important part of human factors especially when trying to advertise why users should want a product.

Avocado pit remover with many functions

Sources:

A BATCH MADE IN HEAVEN. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.chipotle.com/guac-recipe

Williams Sonoma Avocado Pitter & Masher. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/williams-sonoma-avocado-masher/?catalogId=43&sku=2109242&cm_ven=PLA&cm_cat=Google&cm_pla=Cooks’ Tools Fruit & Citrus Tools&gclid=Cj0KCQjw8YXXBRDXARIsAMzsQuWi0DAITUZEK8c0vVThMjNo5QFJotVAXKv9z_yxeh88wS6GrF9QsGwaAmdXEALw_wcB

Fast Food Assembled

Chipotle, Blaze and Subway are just a few restaurants that have taken on the “assembly line” approach to dining. This style of restaurant has made a huge difference in the fast food industry. These places are now booming with business with this way of serving food. There was a lot of human factors that is involved in this style of dining and why people are so intrigued by it.

Blaze’s “assembly line”

This style of serving customers allows for very fast serving. There is no more need to order and make food separately. Now it is all one process allowing time to be saved from passing on the order to the chef. Now, the person taking your order is also making your meal. This elimination of communication now allows for less mistakes to be made when making food. Since the person ordering is directly talking to the maker of the food and seeing what they’re doing, they can let the worker know if they’ve made a mistake and can even stop a worker from making a mistake before they do it. For example, if a worker at Chipotle mishears if someone wanted cheese or not, they may start to grab to put cheese on even if a person said they did not want it. Though, the person ordering will see this happen and most times will notice and warn the worker that they didn’t want cheese. This causes less incorrect orders to be made and therefore saves food from being wasted and more happy costumers. Also, this style of serving allows for people to have exactly what they want in a dish. Rather than having to ask for special accommodations in their order, they can directly choose what they want. This whole process takes minutes, making these restaurants ideal for people in a rush and on the go.

Time is also maximized through the minimization of movement and the small amount of tasks each worker has to do. Since each worker will be in charge of one part of the meal-making, they become experts at it and become very fast at it. Also, they don’t have to move much which saves time as well. Also, since the worker doesn’t have to worry about as many factors, the amount of mistakes they could make is minimized. These benefits cause for perfectly made food.

Chipotle worker in charge of one section of “assembly line”

 

When coming up with this idea, there was definitely human factors involved. The “assembly line” style of restaurant improves the dining experience for the people eating and it improves the work environment as well. People are getting faster service, exactly what they want and less mistakes in their orders. Workers now have to deal with less upset diners because they will almost always get exactly what they want. The “assembly line” line style of dining is a perfect example of how human factors was used in a new idea that is revolutionizing the restaurant industry.

Sources:

Halarnkar, S. (2017, May 12). The restaurant as assembly line. Retrieved April 13, 2018, from https://www.livemint.com/Leisure/d8PsAzq6VmkB2USWXDquvN/The-assembly-line-as-restaurant.html

Not So Pointless Fancy Forks

Sadly, I am not fancy enough to have realized there were so many types of forks before making this blog post. Though, now that I have learned about special forks and their purposes, I see how it is helpful to have many types of forks especially in a multi-course meal. Forks usually have one to four tines, points of the fork. Forks can also be different shapes and sizes. These differences may seem arbitrary, but really, they are useful.

The first type of fork is the salad fork. This fork has a wider left prong so it can easily cut the components of the salad. This is useful because sometimes ingredients such as baby tomatoes are in salads and even though some people like to eat them whole, others may want to cut it in half. The salad fork removes the need for a knife, but still lets the user may their salad into edible portions. The salad fork is also longer than normal forks. This is so that it can be paired with a salad spoon in order to easily toss the salad. The salad fork is also made to be a strong fork by having connected center tines so that it can handle all the many ingredients in salad. The salad spoon enables simpler and more delicious salad eating.

Salad fork

The second type of fork is the fish fork. This fork is special because its left tine is slightly larger than the other tines. There also will be a notch on the side of the fork. The purpose of both of these details is to allow the user to remove the bones and skin from their fish using the left tine. This can completely remove the need for a knife when eating softer fishes. This allows the user to have to deal with less utensils and eat their fish easily.

Fish fork

The final type of fork is the oyster fork. This fork has three tines and is very small. The left tine is wider than the rest in order to disconnect the oyster from its shell. Also, this fork is the perfect size to pick up small seafood, such as oysters. It is able to fit inside the shell in order to remove the meat.

Oyster fork

Overall, all these forks have been designed for specific purposes. This directly involves human factors engineering because when these products were made the user was definitely in mind. The way that they have small features that make them do tasks that correlate with their food is exactly what human factors is about. Also, how they’re able to eliminate the use of a knife in many situations.

Another way these fork designs relate to human factors is through their size. Anthropometrics is involved in designing these forks. The oyster fork, for example, is small so that is can easily be held by one’s finger tips since not a lot of force is needed to hold oysters. There were measurements involved in deciding what the size should be in the grasp. Overall, many human factors aspects were taken into creating these forks and they are actually purposeful.

Sources:

Desimone, M., & Jensson, J. (2015, December 10). Fork Primer | When, Why and How to Use Different Forks. Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://www.winemag.com/2015/10/01/get-your-fork-on-the-ultimate-dinner-fork-primer/

Lininger, M. (n.d.). Forks. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://www.etiquettescholar.com/dining_etiquette/table_setting/place_setting/flatware/forks.html

Another Perfect Smoothie, but To-go!

Last blog, I wrote about the Vitamix blender and all its amazing features. It is minimal and easy to understand buttons and perfect blending abilities make it great. However, the Vitamix blender caters to large serving sizes. In this blog, I am going to analyze the Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender. This blender is especially made to blend a smoothie for one person.

Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender

This blender is perfect for people on the go. This blender is very helpful for when you need a to make something to eat quickly or are running late. The blender only has one button which is the power button. This makes it extremely easy to just make a smoothie without any thinking. When you are in a rush or tired in the morning, the last thing you want to worry about is having to keep an eye on your smoothie and worrying about the setting the blender is on. These minor details are not something that you worry about when in a rush, you just want a smoothie.  Another helpful feature that this blender presents is that it is also functional as a cup. The blending jar can be detached from the blender and it becomes a travel cup. It even includes a drinking hole with a cover. Also, it is easy to tell how to remove the cup. There are two images: one of a lock and one of a unlocked lock. The user can easily tell where to twist the cup in order to remove it with the simple image cues. The removable cup saves time and dishes because you do not have to transfer the smoothie into another cup. This blender causes very little mess, too, because there isn’t much transferring of the smoothie and it is all in one container.

On the other hand, this blender had a very specific audience in mind, which makes it have some faults. Since it only has one button, this does not give the user much flexibility in what they can blend. The user has to be very aware of how much of each ingredient they put in and what type of ingredients they put in. Also, the single-serving feature makes it impractical for families or couples who all want a smoothie at one time.

Both the Vitamix and the Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender were made for specific purposes. The Vitamix is just meant to be a well-designed blender that is easy for users to understand and makes good smoothies; they only make the traditional large blender smoothie serving. The Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender was meant for individuals who need a quick smoothie. They made sure it was simple so people could make smoothies fast, the focus was not on having different blending options and larger servings. Both of these designs focused on a certain audience and therefore altered their product to fit the need of that user. This is an important quality of human factors: making the product specifically for the people using it.

Sources:

Hamilton Beach 14oz Single Serve Blender – Black. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2018, from https://www.target.com/p/hamilton-beach-14oz-single-serve-blender-black/-/A-11893664?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Appliances Shopping&adgroup=SC_Appliances&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=c&location=9002005&gclid=Cj0KCQjwnfLVBRCxARIsAPvl82HsleaDm_zmk6gv4aAG-hZfwMgmQ6ftejXY335_bdU2oK75brUTPgkaAiBDEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Perfect Smoothie

For most foods and drinks, there is a way to prepare it perfectly. For smoothies, this entails the smoothie not having ice chunks, but also not being frothy. Especially when most of the time one just eyeball the amount of ingredients put into their smoothie, it is important to use a good blender to make the smoothie great. If too much liquid or too much food is put in the mix, a blender should accommodate for it.

A blender that does a great job with this is the Vitamix. It adjusts to different textures allowing for eyeballing the ingredients to not go wrong. This allows people to save time from measuring ingredient amounts and cleaning more dishes later on. Also, when a product requires the user to think less that is also helpful because it won’t strain them, and they will make less mistakes during the process. Additionally, the Vitamix lets you change the speed of the blender any time during blending so you can test out different speeds and decide what speed you would like.

Vitamix blender

Close up of the base of the blender

The Vitamix succeeds in being easy to understand. The many different settings are easily distinguished by numbers. Numbers are an easy way to express the strength of the blender to users since they can understand the correlation between a higher number and higher strength. Many blenders tend to have many buttons and options that everyday users don’t always understand. The Vitamix just has one dial and two switches that are very large and easy to use.

Another highly rated blender is the Ninja blender. The Ninja blender blends with the same quality as the Vitamix, however, their main difference is in their dial. The Ninja doesn’t have a numerical dial but rather a categorical dial. The dial lists all its different settings allowing the user to blend for many different occasions such as ice cream, dip or nut butter. The Ninja makes it easier to blend more than just smoothies. If the user is planning on blending many different things, then the Ninaja is better because it easily conveys what they are blending. The Vitamix is capable of blending many ingredients, but it is harder to know what settings to blend it on because it is numerical rather than categorical.

Ninja blender

Ninja blender dial

Sources:

High Speed Blender | Ninja® Chef | In Home Kitchen Blender. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ninjakitchen.com/blenders-food-processors/ninja-chef-high-speed-blender/

M., N., & D. (2015, March 26). Vitamix 5200 Getting Started Machine. Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://www.vitamix.com/us/en_us/Shop/5200-Getting-Started?skuId=001392-1138&addonSkuId=sku-warranty-7yr-std&cid=07-0083-02-01&coupon=07-0083-02-01&cvsfa=3978&cvsfe=2&cvsfhu=353230302d5374616e646172642d526564&gclid=CjwKCAjws6jVBRBZEiwAkIfZ2jc9sUFZPTUU2hwZuAeiqiD0LQJBuYa9v6fk3ArjVg4Fj4CmEr4ckRoC15wQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Therbligs in the Kitchen

Whether cooking alone, with friends or in a restaurant kitchen, Therbligs is necessary to maximizing proficiency in the kitchen. Therbligs analyzes the actions done during a task. It comments on exact motions and is very precise. From using an item to just rest, it addresses every aspect of a task. Therbligs splits up every motion into every small part, turning one part of a task into maybe five or more steps. It is so detailed because Therbligs is used to cut down the time a task takes in any aspect, even if that means reducing the task time by seconds. When all the Therbligs are recognized, one can figure out how to eliminate some steps or combine steps. Even the smallest improvements can add up and be extremely beneficial in mass production situations, but also on small scales as well.

List of Therbligs

When cooking under any circumstances, there is always a recipe involved and lots of steps in order to complete a recipe. The estimated time that a recipe gives you can be easily trimmed down with Therbligs. One way this can be done is minimizing the amount of times you search and pick things up during a recipe. To lessen this time, you can take out all the materials and ingredients you will need when you first start cooking. Additionally, you can carry multiple items at once. These two steps address the Therbligs of searching, finding, selecting, grasping, holding and transporting empty. It is common for one larger action to be analyzed by many Therbligs. This is an example of how specific and how minor the changes can be.

In more commercial kitchens, Therbligs can also help in the designing of the kitchen. When making the kitchen for a restaurant if Therbligs are thought about, then the design of the kitchen can be strategically done to minimize the movement chefs have to do. Keeping certain utilities close such as a large cupboard to hold pans near the stove. This is necessary because it saves time in traveling, and you know that someone using the pans will also be using the stove.

However, even when trying to maximize processes and use Therbligs to combine tasks, functionality still has to be thought of. In this specific kitchen, the designer tried to keep the shelf where the pots and pans would go right next to the stove. This in theory is ideal because the user will have quick access to the pots and pans when using the stove or oven. Though, this was poorly executed because now the stove blocks the shelf for the pots and pans making it almost unusable. By aligning the two, both would be accessible and nothing would be blocked and Therbligs would be maximized.

Poorly designed kitchen

This next kitchen, however, has certain features that may go unnoticed but are very well designed. For example. the cutting board is right next to the stove where stews may be made that need vegetables. By having the cutting board next to the stove, the chef can easily and quickly transport the ingredients without dropping anything. This minimizes time and waste.

Well designed kitchen

Even though it may only seem like small changes, that won’t have any impact, in the long run Therbligs can improve the way people work in the kitchen immensely.

Sources:

Ferguson, D. (n.d.). Therbligs: The Keys to Simplifying Work. Retrieved March 8, 2018, from http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/Therblgs.pdf

Therblig. (2018, March 08). Retrieved March 08, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therblig

Calling all Breakfast Buffets: Human Factors Will Help me be Your Omelet Chef

You’re at a breakfast buffet with an omelet bar. You want to stuff your omelet and choose five different filling options. You know that the chef could fit it all into an omelet and still be able to flip and cook it to perfection. However, non-chefs, like me, are incapable of flipping an omelet with even just two fillings. I already struggle to make eggs in the first place. Eggs are difficult because you don’t want them to be too runny, but you also don’t want them to be burnt. So, in addition to this concern, having to worry about flipping a handful of ingredients inside the eggs is insanity to me. The few times I’ve tried to make an omelet my filling has poured out, even flown off the pan during my flip.

Though, I’ve finally found a product that I think will be able to help. When searching for fun items for my dorm room on Urban Outfitters, I came across an omelet maker. The product immediately caught my attention with the words “easy flip” in its name. Then, looking more closely at the product I realized this is the first product I’m going to rave about on my Human Factors blog.

Easy Flip Omelet Maker in use.

Top view of Easy Flip Omelet Maker.

This omelet maker requires no manual flipping. It also doesn’t require any special placement of the filling. All one has to do is fill the reservoir with the eggs and other ingredients, close the omelet maker and then flip once the green light turns on. Having all the ingredients go in one place allows people to not have to think too much about their omelet. It also limits the mess that the process could make; all the ingredients are enclosed and cannot fly out. Another feature is the light changes from red to green as a signifier for when to flip. This exploits the background knowledge that people have of associating red with stop and green with go. The cook doesn’t have to focus on the timing anymore. The flipping process is also all I could ever ask for. Instead of having to flip the eggs with a spatula, all there is to do is hold the handle and flip the mechanism over. This saves time, cleaning and lowers the difficulty of the flip. Finally, since the product times itself, the eggs are cooked perfectly every time. This product makes omelet making easy and has humans in mind. The initial skill level required to use this product is low allowing it to be accessible to all levels of chefs. Now all I have to do is convince my mom to give me $40 to buy one!

Sources:

Easy Flip Omelette Maker. (January 01). Retrieved March 08, 2018, from https://www.urbanoutfitters.com/shop/easy-flip-omelette-maker

Can Human Factors Help Me Make Toast?

I am incapable of making toast. I know what you’re thinking, why am I writing a blog about Human Factors in the kitchen if I can’t even make toast. This is because I love food, and I wish I could be able to cook, but sadly I am culinary challenged. By improving human factors in the kitchen, all users have a chance to be a great chef and can improve their culinary skills due to easier to use kitchen products.

I have burned many pieces of toast in my lifetime. This is the moment where designers may blame the error on the user and that I’m not smart enough to figure out how to use their “simple” toaster design. This is designers blaming their bad design on human error. Though, studying Human Factors has led me to realize that we cannot blame these issues on humans, that’s the easy way out. It is necessary to design products with humans and their error in mind because it is natural for people to make mistakes or not understand something. This entails making products understandable.

My biggest issue with toasters is that the dial is unclear. The dial’s purpose is to let the user decide how toasted they would like their bread to be. These dials, though, usually have no indication to how toasted the bread will be besides the fact that the more you turn it, the darker it should be. I personally like a golden, medium-toasted piece of toast. However, I am guilty of turning the dial too much or too little and therefore getting an unpleasant piece of toast. This leads to me throwing out burnt bread or having to repeat the toasting process, both wasteful tasks.

Toaster with a dial that only has numbers as indicators.

 

 

When looking into how people most easily understand dials. I came across a journal that explored how users best understand a speedometer. When the speedometer had numerical indexing, the user most easily understood it and preferred it. This is because the numbers directly relate to how fast the driver is going to go. When thinking of toast, color is the most directly related image when measuring how one wants toast. This is why the dial should include the colors.

Rather than just having tick marks or meaningless numbers on the dial, there needs to be obvious signaling to know how the toast will look. No one thinks of toast darkness in tick marks or how much a dial is turned, they think of toast in shades of color. In the beginning of my blog, I described my ideal toast as a golden brown. I imagine you could all recognize the color of toast I’m talking about, and when thinking of an image of your ideal toast, you could visualize what color it is too. So, whether the toaster design keeps the dial, or changes to another type of switch, it must involve the color of the toast. Next to every tick mark there should be a color that corresponds to the toast color if put at that level. This method uses people’s previous toast preferences and allows them to easily match the color on the toaster and make the perfect toast. Even tasks as “simple” as making toast, can be made easier with the use of Human Factors.

Sources:

Green, P. (n.d.). HUMAN FACTORS AND GAUGE DESIGN: A LITERATURE REVIEW. 1-150.

Hamilton Beach 2 Slice Toaster – Stainless Steel. (n.d.). Retrieved March 08, 2018, from https://www.target.com/p/hamilton-beach-2-slice-toaster-stainless-steel/-/A-52062134

What is Human Factors?

I am a Human Factors engineering major. Now, you may be wondering, “What is Human Factors?” Almost every time I tell someone my major I get asked this question. At first, I didn’t know how to fully respond. I thought it just involved designing products with people’s behaviors and wants in mind. Though, Human Factors really encompasses so much more than that.

Human Factors involves designing for people’s physical and emotional responses. It is not enough for a design to just be technically functional. Products have to be understandable to the everyday person or it is useless. For example, if a watch has many buttons, it may be too complicated for a person to comprehend. Therefore, they won’t be able to utilize the watch to its full potential, and perhaps even become frustrated with the watch and not use it. No matter how useful the watch is with its many functions, if a person can’t fathom how to use it, it becomes unusable. That is why designing with people in mind is vital.

Watch that involves too many buttons without labels.

Not only is it important to consider how one acts independently, but to also consider how they interact with others and their environment. Studying people’s interactions is especially important for Human Factors in improving task completion and systems such as in factories. Finding out how to maximize the work a person can do through human factors study can benefit individuals and companies. An example of improving with human interaction in mind is finding the best placement of machinery in a factory to minimize the movement of workers. Observing and understanding how to position machinery based on workers’ interactions with the space can help make safer environment as well as manufacture products faster. This benefits workers by allowing them to become fatigued less easily and finish their work faster with less effort.

Additionally, Human Factors improves people’s well-being and safety, as well as be helpful economically. By making systems clear for people, less mistakes and injuries will occur. For example, the Three Mile Island Accident occurred because of bad human factors engineering. The people operating the coolant drain tank never shut it off because they believed that the machinery gave them a signal that it was closed. In reality, this bright red button didn’t signify the tank being closed. This caused a leak in reactant coolant that caused the most dangerous nuclear accident in U.S. history. If the machinery was easier to understand, it is likely that the workers would’ve turned off the tank rather than thinking it automatically turned off. This also helps economically because it is a lot cheaper to prevent an event than having to clean up after its mess once the damage is done.

Finally, people will be less frustrated and actions will come more naturally in their usage of improved products. This improvement can help companies sell more merchandise because users will have increased satisfaction and want to purchase more. Also, Human Factors can be used to better processes and therefore save companies money and improve their workers’ production rate. Overall, Human Factors can improve people’s lives in so many ways and make the world a more enjoyable and safe place.

Sources:

SANDA New G Style Digital Watch S Shock Men military army Watch water resistant Calendar LED Sports Watches relogio masculino-in Digital Watches from Watches on Aliexpress.com | Alibaba Group. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aliexpress.com/item/SANDA-New-G-Style-Digital-Watch-S-Shock-Men-military-army-Watch-water-resistant-Calendar-LED/32746057739.html

Three Mile Island Accident. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/three-mile-island-accident.aspx

What is human factors (ergonomics)? – Definition from WhatIs.com. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2018, from https://searchmicroservices.techtarget.com/definition/human-factors-ergonomics