Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Usability Of My Apparatus

You don't really hear about "usability" when talking about animal researcher as well as animal enrichment. Usability is the ease and learnability of human-made objects. Much is known and researched on when it comes to the usability of human-made objects intended for humans. Take for example, the usability of a door. Doors with a handle is instinctually something you pull. Doors without a handle but a flat metal plate is instinctually something you push. But how do we arrive to that conclusion?

Doors with handles. Do you push or pull? Why?
It's all about usability research and a lot of testing on potential subjects. You gather as many relevant info as you can, use those knowledge to build an object and then have your subjects use those objects while you observe them. This is how you would test your prototype. I wasn't lucky enough to test the usability of my apparatus with the ruffed lemurs before I brought the apparatus down to Duke Lemur Center. However, I have enough data to help me designing and execute my apparatus. Information such as their height when sitting on the ground, what height is their eye level, as well as the best way to stop these lemurs from perching on the apparatus so that they do not pee or poo on the apparatus.

SPOILER ALERT: They are still perching on the apparatus but they are considerate enough to not pee or poo on it ... yet.

However, watching these lemurs use my apparatus for the past 2 weeks has given me valuable information. There are some many variables that go into play on how they learn and utilize my apparatus. Differences in ages and amongst individuals are evident. I won't divulge more into this, but I think it is something interesting to look into as well as important for animal enrichments.

Some of you might be wondering. How do I know this? Well, someone very close to my life is a usability researcher so naturally I have inherited some advice and knowledge from him.

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