What is Human-Centered Design? A Look Inside KOROYD’s Design Philosophy

When products are designed for protection, they perform a crucial, potentially life-saving function.

From helmets to car seats, protective gloves to paragliding harnesses, impact protection products are designed first and foremost to reduce the risk of injury and even fatalities. But next-generation products, developed with advanced impact technology, can take product design a step further, providing not only reduced risk of injury, but also an enhanced user experience. One of the ways products can go beyond simply functional to confidence-inspiring is through human-centered design. 

At KOROYD, we employ a human-centered design philosophy and approach that has made the products we’ve developed with our brand partners into fan favorites across the world. Human-centered design allows us to create products that work with a user’s body instead of against it, with lightweight comfort and breathability. Read on to learn more about how we’ve created products that not only perform their vital protective function of reducing the risk of injury, but also give you the freedom to move with confidence, day after day. 

Understanding Human-Centered Design

Human-centered design is an approach to product development that puts people first. It begins with seeking to deeply understand the needs of an end user and start with their paint points in mind. At KOROYD, this design approach starts with clarifying the science behind how a product interacts with its user. In this step, the product team will spend a significant amount of time gathering data and conducting research to understand the intricacies behind a user’s needs while wearing protective gear. 

The team then moves on to ideating, looking for ways to innovate. The KOROYD mission of advancing the standard for protective solutions is always first and foremost, pushing our teams to look for ways to move beyond the boundaries of current products and find true innovative solutions. After this human-centered approach to early stages of development, the team can move on to concepting, development, feasibility, validation testing, and implementation. When this process is part of a product developed together with our brand partners, our teams work closely with our partners’ teams to deliver world-class engineering solutions and insight every step of the way.

HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN CASE STUDY: KOROYD REDUCES HEAT STRESS IN INDUSTRIAL HELMETS

An example of how the human-centered design process looks in the KOROYD lab can be observed with our 2023 study on heat stress and how impact protection material interacts with the wearer in the industrial safety environment. Our product development team started with key questions: how does heat accumulate in industrial helmets? What impact does this have on industrial workers? How does the helmet and head interact to create a microclimate, and what impact does energy absorption material have on this microclimate?

This early clarification work was the basis of a full testing protocol to compare energy absorbers and their effect on heat accumulation and heat stress in industrial safety helmets. The conclusions were astonishing, showing KOROYD-integrated industrial safety helmets had up to 4.5° Celsius / 8° Fahrenheit lower heat index than helmets with traditional EPS foam. 

With this insight into how the human head interacts with safety helmets, the team was able to identify ways to reduce heat stress, a key and growing safety concern among workers in the industrial segment. The research conducted as part of the human-centered design process revealed that safety helmets integrated with open-celled energy absorption like KOROYD can work with the body’s natural cooling mechanisms, rather than against them, providing a significantly enhanced user experience.

HOW KOROYD ENHANCES HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN

KOROYD as a company has many examples of integrating human-centered design into our approach. The beauty of KOROYD as a technology, however, is that it makes keeping the human experience front and center in product design easy. Our KOROYD material, an advanced impact technology, has unique properties that make it an ideal energy absorber as well as lightweight and breathable. 

LIGHTWEIGHT COMFORT

KOROYD features the world’s thinnest walled tubes, resulting in a structure which is 95% air. This reduces weight and enhances comfort without compromising on safety. Traditionally when removing material to reduce weight, helmet manufacturers have to compromise on safety because less material thickness can mean less protection. With KOROYD, that’s not the case. Because the welded tube structure is ultralight and strong and has better energy-absorbing properties, we can reduce weight while improving impact protection.

Koroyd and LIFT introduce a new icon: the Next Generation Fixed Wing Helmet
The KOROYD x LIFT AV 2.2

A great example of this lightweight material in action is the AV 2.2—the Next Generation Fixed Wing helmet worn by pilots in the United States Air Force. Equipped with KOROYD for impact protection, the AV 2.2 boasts a significant weight reduction in comparison to previous generations of helmets for wearers who endure extreme g-forces. James Rogers, KOROYD Senior Industrial Designer who worked on the design of the AV 2.2, says, “Weight increases exponentially at the extremely high g-forces pilots experience in fighter aircraft, and Koroyd being 95% air makes is very lightweight and extremely good at absorbing energy through its thickness. Our liner contributes significantly to the helmet’s very low weight.” This weight reduction is a key factor in improving mobility and agility, reducing musculoskeletal disorders among pilots, and extending the service life of USAF pilots. 

VENTILATION AND BREATHABILITY

KOROYD is not only lightweight, it’s also an open-celled structure, leading to advanced breathability and cooling. Air flows consistently through Koroyd’s open cells, meaning hot air can move, ensuring more efficient cooling in the most intense conditions. 

Our industrial helmet developed with General Electric, the GH400, is an excellent example of KOROYD’s ventilation and breathability in action. Without the need to add insulating EPS foam, the GH400 has advanced cooling and reduces heat stress by working with the body’s natural cooling mechanisms. The GH400 is the only industrial safety helmet on the market with KOROYD as the sole energy absorber, which gives it a significant edge in heat stress reduction while still ensuring top-notch protection. 

GO AHEAD: MOVE WITH CONFIDENCE

Products designed with your experience in mind inspire the kind of confidence that lets you push boundaries and achieve new heights. At KOROYD, we’re committed to not only protecting you from the potential for impact when you recreate, work, and live your day-to-day life, but also to making the products you rely on more comfortable and ergonomic. Human-centered design is just one of the ways KOROYD is advancing the standard for protective solutions by creating lighter weight, more breathable, more human-centric products. 

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