This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Body to Backpack Interface Design Guidelines: An Interdisciplinary Study of the Human Body




Kohrman, Zachary

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Industrial and Graphic Design


Backpacks are part of a class of load-carrying devices. With a wide of form and features, backpacks carry a variety of loads from school supplies and books, high alpine gear and survival gear, and numerous other articles. Despite the multiple applications backpacks are used in, a common denominator to all backpack systems is the human body of the end-user. The human body is complex, intricate, and dynamic, with numerous unique structures and functions. Numerous resources deal with human body related information. From anatomy and physiology to ergonomics and biomechanics, individual disciplines will describe and prioritize elements of the human body differently. However, human body information is typically packaged and arranged to meet the requirements and demands of a particular discipline or application. This creates a literature and knowledge gap since few if any human body resources exist specifically for the Industrial Designer. Designing new, innovative products is by no means an easy task. Designing for compatibility with the human body— especially for products worn on the body— is a massive challenge. The purposes of this study are: 1) to determine the level and scope of human body information an Industrial Designer should be aware of; 2) develop a cursory human body information package to be used by individuals with limited or no human body knowledge or experience; 3) create a series of design guidelines based on that human body information package; and 4) demonstrate the application of the design guidelines with a backpack concept package as an example. Based on the findings of the literature review, the Industrial Designer should be more aware of the body at a conceptual level; focusing on elements from the combined neuromuscular-skeletal systems. Specifically, this design-centric information should address a limited number of particular anatomical features and identifying their significance/relation to product design and backpacks in particular. The developed reference package addresses basic orientation material, basic composition of the various anatomical systems, the particular anatomical features most relevant to backpack design, and key concepts to consider in addition to common conditions to prevent. The guidelines created include five guidelines for dealing with the human body in general, and five guidelines specific to backpack design. To streamline the use of this information, a series of forms were developed to enable quick tabulation of the required design elements for a backpack design. The backpack concept design demonstrates the benefits of using with these human body design resources. First, designers can utilize human body information to create backpacks that are more compatible with the human body. Secondly, the guidelines help remove the guesswork attached to human body accommodation within the design process. Finally, the design resources help the designer quickly gauge the viability of a backpack design based on end-user and environment considerations. This allows the designer to then focus resources on prototyping, and refining designs with a higher degree of positive compatibility with the human body.