Designing in a research lab

A person is being tested for balance in the WinterLab. She is protected by a harness.
Testing in the WinterLab

Sometimes it isn’t possible to do research in the field so that’s where research labs come in. In Toronto, Canada, they have a giant lab with several simulators where researchers can test their theories, products and ideas.

A view of the simulator from ground level. Two people stand nearby and they look very small in comparison.
One of the simulators at the KITE lab.

The Kite Research Institute has simulator labs for the design of hospitals, driving ability, and assessing falls, homes, stairs, and streets. Their website features each one of these with descriptions of what they are researching. For example, the WinterLab recreates typical Canadian winter conditions with ice and winds up to 30km per hour. It’s all done with safety in mind under controlled conditions. That includes tilting the simulator to create sloping ground. It is used to test clothing and footwear and improvements to mobility aids. 

HomeLab is a home within a lab where products are tested with volunteer participants. Researchers can observe the volunteer undertaking home activities from an overhead catwalk.  The focus of the research now is on intelligent home systems.

Research labs like these are essential for the development of environmental design and the design of products. Something as basic as stairway design can always be improved.  Have a look at their current research and the simulators. 

The video below provides an overview of the labs when they were owned by iDAPT. 

Editor’s comment: While attending a conference in Toronto I was fortunate to visit this lab. It’s an amazing set-up.


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