Nowadays, when information about products is widely available through the network, providing products with attributes demanded by consumers becomes indispensable to succeed. Furthermore, parents demand more and more knowledge about features and characteristics of the products they acquired for their children as well as information based on scientific basis that help them in the process of selection and purchase.
Although fashion and price have traditionally been the main aspects motivating the purchase decision of children products, more and more human factors related to comfort, health and usability are becoming relevant and differentiating aspects for consumers of children products.
Traditionally, children’s products have been designed as if they were addressed to miniaturized adults; however, children’s needs related to comfort and usability significantly differ from adults’ ones. Moreover, since birth to adolescence, these needs evolve and change along with children development process and include aspects related to physical interaction (fitting, anthropometry and growth), physiological interaction (thermal comfort), motor aspects (adaptation to movements), psychological interaction (cognitive capacity), or any combination of them (usability and safety of both parents and children).
This new orientation of the product development process to the end-user represented a big competitive opportunity for European children sector, but this involved specific needs:
- Acquisition of the necessary knowledge about children-product interaction
- Application of this knowledge into tools allowing its use and exploitation: materialization of R&D advances into value-added products
- Extending this value-chain of knowledge until the customers bringing closer the results, benefits and new functionalities
D4C initiative arose with the aim of compiling, processing and advancing in knowledge related to children-product interaction with the aim of integrating this knowledge into tools able to make it accessible and understandable for European children companies.
Design4Children has provided children products companies with innovative knowledge about ergonomics, comfort and adaptation of children products through a set of three innovative tools addressed to implement this knowledge along the process of product development and launching into the market.
Sectors under the scope of the project were children fashion, footwear and childcare. The developed tools were:
- a Knowledge-based Design Support application that will help design teams to introduce enhanced functionalities to products and assure children’s comfort and wellbeing
- a Virtual Functional Performance Test Bed that allows manufacturers to evaluate the functional performance of their design without manufacturing them, which considerably reduces costs and speeds up the creation of products.
- a Web-based Interactive Purchase Adviser accessible via Internet, that will help customers and retailers to select the products that better match their children’s needs.
These tools represent an innovation for the industry, and will present a market opportunity for those innovative companies which continuously search for competitive advantages by promoting comfort, quality and safety of children’s products and innovative product design.