Human-Centered Design, Human Factors & Ergonomics


Today, in order to improve their competitiveness, companies must aim at continuous improvement of the quality of their products, services, personnel, processes and environment. Reducing the risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders in workers can reduce expected costs and improve process efficiency, thanks also to the reduction of absenteeism and less frequent interruptions. Traditional approaches are based on monitoring critical issues and introducing optimisation actions. To ensure worker safety and prevent potential risks in order to concretely reduce accidents and other diseases of workers, human factors must be taken into account in the design of the working environment and in the planning of processes. To this end, the use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies can create immersive and interactive spaces where real users can simulate the actions of workers with a high level of presence and realism, depending on the monitoring and interaction technologies used. However, the determination of which technologies are most suitable to support the design of environments and workstations, as well as the verification and management of acual levels of risk during work, based on the characteristics of the specific application context remains an open point for research. In this context, the research activity focuses mainly on the following objectives:

  • Benchmark of methods and tools for the ergonomic evaluation of workplace and technologies (including virtual reality) for the acquisition/simulation of functional activities of the operator, to support the assessement and monitoring of potential MSD risks, even in real time, based on the characteristics of the specific production process (1, 2).
  • Development of X-realty applications for: (a) on-site and real time monitoring of MSD associated risks based on the worker’s activity at the workplace; (b) improving the worker’s awareness about MSD risks due to incorrect actions/practices; (c) supporting operator’s training and provide assistance during manual activities (e.g., assembly operations, maintenance, etc.) to ensure quality control of the assembled product (3, 4, 5).

In recent years the use of virtual prototyping (VP) has increased in the product development process. The understanding of the advantages of VP, especially in human-machine interaction design, has initialised efforts made by companies. In addition, virtual prototyping technologies (software and hardware) are easily available and the prices have come down. Nevertheless, there is a need for a better understanding of what VP really is, how it is used, how it changes the production processes and how it differs from physical prototyping:

  • Benchmark of virtual reality technologies (VR/AR/MR) in order to determine the most suitable ones to support the construction of virtual prototypes aimed at assessing the physical ergonomics and usability of the product, involving also end users (7, 8).
  • Development of virtual prototypes through the application of various X-reality technologies (VR/AR/MR) for the evaluation of the physical and cognitive ergonomics of the product in different industrial fields (household appliances, mobile devices, etc.) (9, 10)
  • Study and definition of experimental protocols for the evaluation and usability of human-machine interfaces. The protocols developed have been applied in numerous real-life case studies in different industrial fields (remote controls, mobile devices, etc.) (11, 12).


The activities are carried out in the Virtual Prototyping and Virtual Reality laboratory

  1. Mengoni, M., Matteucci, M., Raponi, D., 2017. A Multipath Methodology to Link Ergonomics, Safety and Efficiency in Factories, Procedia Manufacturing, Volume 11, pp. 1311-1318 (Scopus: 2-s2.0-85029849442, DOI: 10.1016/j.promfg.2017.07.259, ISSN: 23519789).
  2. Ceccacci, S., Matteucci, M., Peruzzini, M., Mengoni., M. (in press) A multipath methodology to promote ergonomics, safety and efficiency in agile factories. International Journal of Agile Systems and Management (In press, Indexing in Scopus).
  3. Mengoni, M., Peruzzini, M., Mandorli, F., Bordegoni, M., Caruso, G. (2008), Performing ergonomic analysis in virtual environments: A structured protocol to assess humans interaction, Proceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical ConferenceVolume 3, Issue PARTS A AND B, pp. 1461-1472 (scopus: 2-s2.0-81155123745, DOI: 10.1115/DETC2008-49160, ISBN: 978-079184327-7).
  4. Matteucci, M., Raponi, D., Peruzzini, M., Mengoni, M., 2017, Tangible Augmented Reality model to support manual assembly, Proc. of the 13th ASME/IEEE International Conference on Mechatronic & Embedded Systems & Applications, August 6-9, Cleveland, Ohio, USA (Scopus: 2-s2.0-85034964253, DOI: 10.1115/DETC2017-67742, ISBN: 978-079185823-3).
  5. Mengoni, M., Ceccacci, S., Generosi, A., Leopardi, A. (2018) Spatial Augmented Reality: an application for human work in smart manufacturing environment, Procedia Manufacturing, Vol. 17, pp. 476-483 (Scopus: 2-s2.0-85060438860, DOI: 10.1016/j.promfg.2018.10.072, ISSN: 23519789).
  6. Ceccacci, S. Germani, M., Mengoni, M., 2012, How to use Virtual and Augmented Reality techniques to design high usable human-machine interfaces, in Designing inclusive systems: designing inclusion for real-world applications, Universal Access and Assistive Technology, eds. Clarkson P.J. et al., Springer-Verlag, UK London, pp.65-74. (Scopus: 2-s2.0-84900549401. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4471-2867-0-7, ISBN 987-1-4471-28663).
  7. Mengoni, M., Germani, M., 2008, Interacting with Virtual Prototypes Coherently with Design Intent, Design Computing and Cognition ’08, J. Gero and A. Goel, Eds., Springer, pp.677-696, (Scopus: 2-s2.0-80052108037, WOS:000262457300035, ISBN 978-1-4020-8727-1).
  8. Mengoni, M., Germani, M., Peruzzini, M., 2009, Products experience: how can Virtual Prototyping improve usability testing?, Innovative developments in design and manufacturing – Advanced Research in Virtual and Rapid Prototyping, P.J. Bártolo et al., Eds., Taylor & Francis, pp. 505-514 (Scopus: 2-s2.0-78649887628. ISBN 978-0-415-41602-3).
  9. Mengoni, M., Peruzzini, M., 2010, Usability Assessment to Address Interaction Design: how to get it, in Nadau J.P. and Fischer X. (Eds), Research in Iteractive Design: Virtual, Interactive and Integrated Product Design and Manufacturing for Industrial Innovation, Vol. 3, Springer France, Paris. (ISBN-10: 2817801687).
Scientific Manager
Working group