For children, there is no such thing as intended use or misuse. There is only foreseeable use, for example, the fly swatter that the child mouths for optimal stimulation. Intertek develops data that enables manufacturers to predict such behavior for individual products and product categories.
Foreseeable use predictions are based upon:
Child Development Stages: From infancy through adolescence, a child's actions are motivated by clearly defined stages of cognitive, emotional, social and physical development. During these stages, children develop a predictable sequence of skills that are applied to explore their environments and achieve optimal stimulation. Intertek researchers can predict how a child will treat a product based upon the developmental stage.
Observation: Intertek specialists observe children during active play in a laboratory setting to see how they interact with and treat various products.
Caregiver Vigilance: Critical to safe product design is understanding the level of supervision provided when a product is used and how caregivers assess a child's abilities. Intertek specialists observe caregivers supervising play to understand how a child will be permitted to use a product and how caregivers respond to real and perceived hazards. Intertek also studies the child/parent relationship and surveys parents to better understand the caregiver's effect on the child's use of a product.
Today, most standards for evaluating the strength of objects subjected to force are based upon history and experience - not current biomechanical data. That void has become a focal point for Intertek research. A priority is comprehensive studies in pediatric biomechanics - the types and strength of forces children generate.
How it works: Intertek developed strength measuring interfaces by outfitting carefully selected every day toys and sensing equipment. These child-friendly interfaces are portable and unobtrusive devices that measure forces under "real life" play conditions. In Intertek research, children use them in their actual play environments, making possible true anthropometric data. As children play, they are encouraged to apply certain forces at their full strength. The amount and type of encouragement varies with the child's age and ability to understand the commands.
Intertek continually compiles data from a large, diverse population of children. Through statistical analysis, Intertek accurately can predict strength levels of various age groups. This information is invaluable to product manufacturers who target that market segment.