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Alaster Yoxall

Dr Alaster Yoxall PhD

Principal Research Fellow in Human Centered Engineering


I have been involved in the 'Inclusive Design' of packaging for a little over 12 years. I was the UK's technical expert in the development of ISO 17480 Packaging Accessibility guidelines. Further, I have extensive experience in measuring people's capabilities, observing people opening packaging and developing solutions. I am currently involved in a number of projects working with academia, business and healthcare professionals to improve packaging accessibility.

I am research associate of Lab4Living.

  • About

    The main direction of my research has been the development of techniques and methods for assessing user abilities when accessing packaging and the subsequent knowledge transfer to industry and standards organisations to facilitate more usable packaging for older and disabled users. This has included working directly with companies to design new, more 'inclusive packaging' and being the UK technical expert on the CEN15945 and ISO17480 committees for guidelines on accessible packaging and panel test methods. 

    I have the largest data set of its kind for torque (twist strength) and age which has been used by my colleague Ian Gwilt for the creation of a series of novel 'data objects' and am currently working on methods to assess dexterity and cognition of older users when using packaging. The work on dexterity is currently being used to assess new pack designs to be launched later this year. 

    Always on the look-out for motivated engineering or design students to understand how to improve the ergonomics (including visual techniques and graphics), comfort and use of everyday objects particularly improving the way older people are able to interact with food and medicines, whether that is through packaging, tableware (knives, forks, plates, etc.) or appliances such as cookers, microwaves and refrigerators. 

  • Teaching

    Science, Technology and Arts

  • Research

    • Design Futures, Art and Design Research Centre
    • Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute

    My research is currently split into three main areas; the implementation of ISO17480 guidelines into NHS supply protocol, capability assessment around dexterity and hand use and the development of improved cutlery and tableware. 

    I also undertake consultancy on ISO17480 testing and packaging assessment and design. The links to these projects are below:

    NHS Packaging Assessment

    Hand Functionality Assessment

    Ergonomic Cutlery Design


  • Publications

  • Postgraduate supervision

    Current PhD supervision includes understanding thin-film peel strength with Kasetsart University, Thailand, Packaging accessibility in Hospitals with the University of Wollongong, Understanding dexterity and Task Analysis with the University of Sheffield.

    I have supervised a number of student research projects and PhD projects looking at a range of issues. These have included modelling the human hand and finger joints using Finite Element Analysis, modelling human packaging and object interaction and understanding ways of assessing pack performance and design. Methods used have included; interviewing and co-design with older people, high speed video, motion capture, video observation and eye-tracking analysis.

    Recent student project supervision has included the re-design of packaging graphics using interviews and eye-tracking software, analysis of dexterity using high speed video analysis, enhanced packing for the visually impaired and the design of assistive cutlery for people with arthritis.

  • Media

    Packaging expert Alaster Yoxall's main areas of expertise are in design and ergonomics with respect to an ageing population. He has been responsible for the development of European and International Standards on this issue and have worked with a number of leading companies developing new pack formats, leading to him being described as a 'thought-leader in packaging' on a recent edition of Radio 4's Today programme.

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