/ Technology

How do you think we should test products?

Man putting his arm in box of mosquitoes

From fake bums to bird poo, we use some funny testing methods here at Which? To mark our new ad campaign, we’re rounding up some of the unexpected tests we use – and challenging you to think of new ones.

If you’ve been indulging in a little festive telly you may have been lucky enough to have caught our two new TV ads.

Being something of a newbie at Which? I was quite intrigued when I first saw these ads. The first shows a rather cute, but extremely mucky, pup rolling around in some washing; the second follows a man taking a Mr Bean-style tumble down some steps while taking a picture.

Ok, we don’t actually throw people down steps in order to recommend the best camera, but we do put all our cameras on vibrating platforms. And Tomahawk the husky comes in to mess up our clothes so we can test how well washing machines remove dog odours.

In case you’ve missed the ads, here’s one of them:

This got me thinking about all the other strange ways we test here at Which?, so I did some digging around and found some fun facts.

The ‘fake bum’: Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. One of our old testing methods, we used to use a fake bum with sensors to test ride comfort in cars. The car went over a cobbled obstacle and the sensors showed how much shock is absorbed by car suspension, and how much was felt by the driver’s, er, bum. We’ve since moved on to real bums!

The semi-deflated basketball: The bum theme continues… The deflated ball is the nearest thing to a human bum in terms of size and pressure, so we use it to bump into furniture and highchairs to see if it will knock them over.

The bird-muck test: Another lucky tester gets to collect bird muck and pigeon poo and apply it to coated car panels. After being baked in an oven (to replicate the sun), we see how well the resistant car wax has protected the surface against the poo.

The mosquito test: This is the ultimate sacrifice to bring you the best mosquito repellent. A not-so-lucky volunteer gets to apply repellent onto their arms and immerse them into a mosquito-ridden cabinet. We count how many land as we increase the dose and then put the arm back in every hour to measure effectiveness over time.

The mobile loo-dip: How well would your mobile work if you dropped it down the loo or in a puddle? Worry no more if you have a Which? Best Buy, because we test them all for water resistance by dropping them in water.

Are you surprised by these tests, or did you expect us to be even more outlandish? We obviously use hundreds more test methods, but we’d love to hear if you’ve got any ideas for others in the comment box below the video – you never know; we may even end up using them!


The way we test products at Which?

Has Which? bought it’s old laboratory back then? I thought since it was sold Which? outsourced all product testing in which case this article is misleading.

Sophie Gilbert says:
29 December 2010

What about sensored (not censored) fake boobs to test support in bras and especially sports bras?

Looks like you’ve also just been tango’d (or more correctly asterisked – if there is such a word!)by the proganity filter, Sophie!

And I can’t spell properly today! Should of course read ‘profanity’ !!

Sophie Gilbert says:
29 December 2010

I’ll try this: the word really wasn’t bad, it was “b o o b s”.

At least it’s providing us with some additional festive entertainment – and making us work our brains to try and circumvent it’s sensitivities! πŸ™‚

Sophie Gilbert says:
29 December 2010

I was trying to be funny (though my suggestion is serious, and bras have been the subject of a previous convo), and I didn’t want this conversation to be mistaken with the one about turkeys (if I’d used “b r e a s t s”).

Sophie Gilbert says:
29 December 2010

Cheers, Hannah.

I would like to see Which? reporting on how easy it is to repair products. That can vary enormously between different manufacturers and models. If a product is difficult to dismantle, it could be prohibitively expensive to repair and beyond the capabilities of DIY enthusiasts.

Disposing of consumer goods because of minor problems that could easily be fixed wastes natural resources and generates waste. Repair rather than replacement could provide a lot of jobs. Being able to fix your own domestic appliances is saves money and can be very satisfying, but it helps to buy equipment that is well designed. Any service engineer will be well aware that some equipment is easy to work on and some is very difficult.