The human factor

Talking at the opening of a special ergonomics exhibition at London’s Science Museum, an impassioned Trevor Baylis, inventor of the clockwork radio, renewed calls for the formation of an academy of inventors.

Baylis spoke to visitors about the promotion of the rights of individuals in the design and manufacture of products. Too often inventors, unable to fork out often huge amounts of money for patent rights, see their creations snapped up by big business before they receive any credit. `I find it obscene,’ said Baylis, `that British inventions end up disappearing overseas.’

With some gusto, Baylis argued for the introduction, through the establishment of an academy, of regulations akin to the copyright laws which protect the work of creative people in most other fields.

The exhibition itself, which runs until 31 August, offers a fascinating insight into the design of anything (products, places, jobs) which takes into consideration `the human factor’. It reflects the way in which ergonomic consideration has become pervasive in most areas of product manufacture. From car manufacturing, to software design manufacturers will frequently consult a human factors expert when designing a new product.

The exhibition area may be small but its epic sweep encompasses toasters, coffins, DIY aeroplanes, road design and a number of amusing interactive displays.