Know today what might be important tomorrow

May 2022
  • A detailed look at Blum's requirements research

  • A simple tool that provides a look into the future

  • How the requirements of furniture users are changing

Drei Menschen beobachten, wie eine Testperson im orangenen AgeExplorer®-Anzug Geschirr aus einem Hochschrank entnimmt

Blum has an entire department dedicated to the requirements of furniture users. Various key points are taken into account here. Work also includes testing our products in a real environment, albeit under special circumstances.

The lab kitchen at Julius Blum GmbH is just like any private kitchen: tasks here include shopping, preparing food, cooking, setting the table and emptying the dishwasher. The only difference is the cameras that film the test subjects carrying out everyday tasks.

"We invite guests from outside the company or employees from other departments to our Innovation Lab," says Sandra Boehler from Blum's Requirements Research Department. The participants use product prototypes while cooking an ordinary meal and then report on their experiences. They provide valuable insights on how to improve products.

Ein Mann fotografiert eine Person im orangenen AgeExplorer®-Anzug, die einen Topf aus einer Schublade entnimmt

Sandra Boehler not only tests kitchen ideas, but now also the functionality of Blum's latest developments in every area of the home, such as living room furniture, bathroom cabinets and wardrobes. 

Ein Mann unterhält sich mit einer Person im orangenen AgeExplorer®-Anzug, die eine Haarbürste aus einer Schublade eines Badezimmerschranks entnimmt
We're interested in kitchen users' needs in all living areas and in all our markets. To this end, we regularly travel to different countries around the world and observe how our product ideas are implemented on site.Sandra Boehler, Blum Requirements Research

Recognising the needs of the future 

And what does the future hold for requirements and user research? "We have observed that needs have changed a lot over the past ten years. People are now placing more value on practical and ergonomic solutions.

Trend research is also gaining importance. To this end, we monitor all groups of the population, from young to old, so that we understand what products and services will be needed in the future.

Demographic changes indicate areas where the greatest support will be needed – the key phrase here being ambient assisted living. Height-adjustable elements, step aids such as , and electronic motion technologies such as will play an important role in this context." 

AgeExplorer®, the instant ageing suit

Things get really interesting when the AgeExplorer® is donned at Blum. The suit is not only used by product developers, but also for the ongoing education and training of various customer groups worldwide. The idea is to allow participants to step into old age and feel what it's like to struggle with the simplest tasks. This will help to create a better understanding for older persons and the difficulties they endure every day. This age simulation suit is used to test products under the difficulties that we face, primarily due to ageing: 

  • Reduced mobility

  • Diminishing muscle strength

  • Deteriorating vision 

  • Changes in colour perception 

Der Alterssimulationsanzug AgeExplorer®.

The AgeExplorer® age simulation suit is a trademark of the Meyer-Hentschel Institute, which is one of the pioneers of instant aging. It was first presented in 1994 and has been used by Julius Blum GmbH to monitor products and their use in practice since 2005.

At a glance: requirements research at Blum – focussing on ergonomics

Requirements research with the AgeExplorer® looks at different people and living spaces 

  • Focus on practical and ergonomic solutions

  • Simulation of typical age-related restrictions

  • Highlight where support is needed

Got a question or ideas you want to share?

We'd love to hear from you!

Top articles