Friday, December 9, 2016

SantosHuman, Inc., a spinoff company that grew out of ongoing research at the University of Iowa, recently announced a partnership with the University of Waterloo to educate the next generation of engineers in creating and assessing virtual product designs specifically to optimize human interaction.

The university, located in Ontario, Canada, plans to use SantosHuman virtual human modeling and simulation software as a teaching tool in its upper level ergonomics classes.

From cars to toasters, all of today’s manufactured products are developed with computer design models. Because consumers are more savvy and demanding of comfort and positive user experience when using technology, human-centric design processes are more important now than ever before, said Tim Marler, Chief Research Officer at SantosHuman, Director of the Santos Institute and Research Engineer at the RAND Corporation.

“Classes often use software as one of many tools or they focus on one system and teach students how to use that system,” said Marler. "But what if professional analysis software could be fully integrated with education as a critical piece of a curriculum? What's exciting is that this isn't just about changing how we design products and processes in industry. We now have the opportunity to inherently change the process of learning.” 

In forming the partnership, Steven Fischer, Assistant Professor in the University of Waterloo’s Department of Kinesiology, sees the need to prepare his engineering students to take up the challenge of learning this new approach. 

“Virtual human performance simulation offers unique insight to address potential problems proactively, before a product malfunctions or someone suffers and injury,” Fischer said. “The next generation of design engineer and ergonomist needs to understand how to apply human simulation to strengthen customer oriented design.”

While the use of digital human modeling to analyze product and process designs is common, the ability to consider the human-in-the-loop at the earliest stages of product design is relatively new. SantosHuman offers that capability.

Founded in 2008, SantosHuman is headquartered in the UI Research Park’s BioVentures Center and was born out of research and development at the UI College of Engineering’s Center for Computer Aided Design (CCAD) Virtual Soldier Research (VSR) Program, which began in 2003. While research in virtual human modeling and simulation continues at Virtual Soldier Research, SantosHuman has the exclusive license with the University of Iowa’s Research Foundation within the UI Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development to commercialize all Santos-related technologies. SantosHuman clients include some of the most recognizable brands in the world.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover