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Posts Tagged ‘Bad Design’


Every year I participate in a Secret Santa gift swap with family, our spend limit is $100, so this usually allows your Secret Santa to buy several different gifts.  This year, I had only one item on my list; I had stopped into a Brookstone at the local mall and fell in love with their n•a•p® Massaging Bed Rest (picture to left).

I am a big late night reader, this product seemed to have it all, soft fabric, foam cushions, LED , massage all for the low, low price of $99.  Well I received my present, unwrapped it  and I took it for a test drive last night. A letdown of major proportions. 

I am so disappointed that this product did not live up to its potential. The idea is a good one, the design elements are smart and make sense individually. What’s unfortunate is that these elements don’t work in the final integrated product. 

Design elements I like:

  1. Ultra-plush, NapSoft® material, LOVE IT, soft and cushy. I own and LOVE Brookstone’s slippers.
  2. Built-in massage, what’s not to like.
  3. Focused, super-bright LED light bends into any position – a great feature.
  4. Side pockets for remote, books etc
  5. Cup-holder in the LEFT arm
  6. Folds flat for easy storage under the bed

So….with all these fantastic features WHY doesn’t this product work?   My guess…this product designers didn’t investigate how people would use this product in the real world.  This product is a real world example of bad ERGONOMIC DESIGN.  

So…what doesn’t work?

  • I am 5’6″ tall with an average torso length – the product is not large enough to accomodate someone of my AVERAGE size.  Did anyone test a product prototype during the design process?  This design deficiency should have been obvious.  
  • Lacks adjustability – the lower 5th percentile of the population (under 5’2″)  are the ONLY people who might find this Bed Rest comfortable. 
    • The head rest on the product is not adjustable up/down; the headrest pushes my head forward, putting pressure on the neck and shoulders. 
    • The armrest design is flawed; they are too short to support my arms comfortably, at too tight an angle to the torso (a tight 90 degrees) and don’t adjust in/out to allow for comfortable arm position.
    • The Bed Rest does not recline, it adjusts ONLY to a 95 – 100 degree angle. Ergonomics and Human Factors 101 tells us the human body is most comfortable when the waist is at a 120 degree angle in the recline position.  The forced position will cause lower back compression and discomfort.
  • The cup holder is a useless feature. With the armrests being too short, the cup holder falls under the elbow. First, this causes friction and discomfort with the elbow, second, anything placed in the cup holder will most certainly be knocked over.  

So….today I am heading back to Brookstone to return my gift.  Now where is that gift receipt???

What have I learned?

TEST the product…don’t just fall in love with the features.   (Apply this lesson whenever you are buying an Ergonomic product – secure a demo if you can, use the product for a few days to see if it works for you)

Considering that I work everyday with design-obsessed Ergonomists and Human Factors experts, you’d think I would have asked around BEFORE selecting the product. 

So….I am still in the market for a Bed Rest with all the bells and whistles that actually works…..any suggestions?

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