How do you work this thing?
Like many people, I use heuristics when choosing between food products. My algorithm goes something like this:
Wouldn’t it be great if someone did steps 3-9 for me? Or if they considered factors I’m too lazy or uneducated enough to balance and comprehend? Well, the ONQI has stepped up to the challenge. The ONQI, or Overall Nutritional Quality Index, is coming to products near you as a single scale for all foods. As the site states, it finally allows the comparison of apples to oranges (oranges win, by the way.)
One of the things I’m most impressed with is the ONQI’s use of the entire scale. Unlike choosing wine by points (where nearly every advertised bottle is above 88 points on a 100 scale), on the ONQI soda gets a 1 while oranges get 100. Now we know that although pretzels aren’t bad for you… they certainly aren’t good for you with a rating of eleven. Eleven is a lot closer to Coca-cola than it is to oranges.
The second thing I’m impressed with is their attempt at transparency. Their conference presentations are available online. However, due to patent, the actual algorithm used is not available. We are asked to trust that experts have tested it and found it reliable. Hopefully this will change as soon as the patent expires and it may be examined by numerous independent investigators.
One thing it does not do (that the food pyramid has been trying to do for 50 years) is recommend a balanced diet. Oranges and strawberries may score 100s, but a pure diet of those won’t do much but prevent rickets. However, I like their concept of attacking the nutrition problem at a food-by-food level. If I have my meal basically planned, I can use the scale to decide between individual options.
Last, I enjoyed this bit from their website:
What about products that don’t score well? Aren’t you at risk of alienating some brands? The ONQI was developed based on sound science, independent of any food company or commodity organization bias. Since the ONQI can be applied to all foods, beverages, recipes and meals, it levels the playing field, and provides consumers with a universal tool to measure any food they wish to purchase. It can also provide a benchmark for product development and reformulation.
The failed food pyramid is a good example of how difficult it is to create a nationwide understanding of a complex topic. The ONQI does the work for the consumer; work we’re clearly not interested in doing ourselves. I’m going to be watching closely to see how the ONQI pans out in studies of purchasing behavior changes.
So I finally made the plunge and obtained an Amazon Kindle E-book reader. This isn’t a gadget review site so don’t expect a full review but I just wanted to comment on some of the ergonomic/human factors considerations after using the device for the past few days. The bottom line? There are some critical “book behaviors” that the device does not afford but are critical to me. My reading material is primarily articles, reference books; not narrative fiction (that typically flows in a linear, page-by-page fashion).
The BAD (in no particular order):
Anne and I are writing a book and I’ve been doing quite a bit of research with articles and books. Typically, I will read a page from a book or article and make notes. Currently, there is not an easy way to export these notes or even email them to myself from the device. As I mentioned, the notes it creates are unusable. Another big thing is that I cannot open multiple books or articles at once–this is a problem with the whole class of devices, not just the Kindle.
These are just some of my recent thoughts on the device. The tentative bottom-line is that I probably won’t be buying expensive reference books on the device (it just can’t yet replace a paper book for my use cases). But reading PDF articles and Word .docs is quite pleasant.
Here are some pictures (the device and the device’s text presentation compared to a real book).
RALEIGH – No more “Inner” and “Outer” for Raleigh’s Beltline. Soon it will be Interstate 40 and Interstate 440, east and west.
The state Department of Transportation is about to make good on a long-standing promise to get rid of the Inner Beltline and Outer Beltline signs that get lots of motorists mad, confused and lost.
This human factors redesign feels personal. I’ve bemoaned the difficulties with the Raleigh loop signs for as long as I’ve lived here. I know people who have no trouble with it, but I am incapable of translating “inner” or “outer” into actual directions, especially during the multi-tasking required for driving toward an entrance ramp and thinking about where my destination is in relation to my current position.
I think the greatest difficulty comes from translation. To know which way the inner beltline goes, the driver must mentally step through the following (at least until s/he just memorizes what ramp to take).
No wonder I’m always late.
For a bonus, don’t miss out on the typical “common sense” comments attached to the News & Observer article.
In July, builders broke ground on a new hospital in Rwanda’s Burera district, near the Uganda border. The design relies on simple features to reduce the spread of airborne disease: outdoor walkways instead of enclosed halls, waiting rooms alfresco and large windows staggered at different levels on opposing walls to keep air circulating.
The new law, which generally bars drivers from talking on their phones unless they use a hands-free device, takes effect today, nearly two years after the Legislature passed it. In the weeks leading up to the deadline, customers have been flooding into stores to buy hands-free devices, particularly wireless headsets.
With recent news that it is now illegal in California to use your mobile phone while driving (unless you have a hands-free device), I thought it would be interesting to note that it is not the “holding the phone” that is the problem, it is the cognitive requirements of multi-tasking (driving and talking) that is the problem. Hands-free will not solve this problem. As Strayer, Drews, and Crouch (2006) noted:
When drivers were conversing on either a handheld or hands-free cell phone, their braking reactions were delayed and they were involved in more traffic accidents than when they were not conversing on a cell phone.
Strayer, D. L., Drews, F. A., & Crouch, D. J. (2006). A comparison of the cell phone driver and the drunk driver. Human Factors, 48, 381-391.
The journal, Human Factors, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a retrospective of some pivotal research and areas. To celebrate, the entire issue is available online for free. Some highlights:
“The Jive was created by Ben Arent, a college student, over a six-month period as part of his product design degree. The concept was designed to get elderly technophobes connected to their friends and family without feeling overwhelmed of learning how to use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. It would essentially be their own type of social networking.”
[link to Crave which includes a video demonstration]
Ergonomics for kids is a relatively recent area of research. This new paper addresses childhood ergonomics during computer usage.
A new study by human factors researchers in Australia suggests that students’ posture is affected by the height at which they view classroom learning materials. The researchers cited computer screen displays positioned at mid-level as causing less musculoskeletal strain than high- and book-level displays. Their findings were published in the February 2008 issue of Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
The rapid increase in computer use by children over the past few years, say the authors, “has outpaced the development of knowledge about the ramifications for the health of children.” For example, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that in 2006, 80% of children aged 5 to 14 years used a computer at home.
Carmaker Nissan Motor is using a specialized driver’s suit and goggles to simulate the bad balance, stiff joints, weaker eyesight and extra five kilograms (11lbs) that may accompany senior citizenry.
Associate chief designer Etsuhiro Watanabe says the suit’s weight and constriction help in determining functionality and accessibility within cars by putting young designers not only in the minds of the mobility-challenged, but also in their bodies.