@Spike, I brought it up because there are special considerations and more restrictive standards for toxin exposure during pregnancy, certain kinds of chronic illness, and for children. I said specifically that I imagine toxin exposure might be of particular importance to pregnant people because that’s a demographic of users I’m aware of for a number of reasons and might become a member of at some point during my GF ownership. I’m also a member of a number of other user demographics (visual artists, Parallels users, first-time laser owners) that I think it’s appropriate to bring up special considerations for as they come to mind.
Part of how I look at the issue is that product safety is always a matter of tradeoffs. Good designers start with a baseline of usability and features. After that, they might consider the needs of specific populations of users who need or desire certain features to be able to use the product easily or at all. Europeans, for example–huge population of potential users, but they can’t have GFs unless the Glowforge team gets the product a CE mark; hence, GF has a CE mark. On the other hand, designers oftentimes aren’t aware of or quickly dismiss the accessibility needs of some users because they’re too small of a group to make a real difference in profitability; for example, I don’t think there’s currently a built-in alternative to the print button for people who can’t use their limbs–that’s tough on potential customers who have quadriplegia, but there just aren’t enough of those folks to make it worthwhile for the team to spend their time designing a workaround for them. Sorry, quadriplegics, you can’t use the GF without help. Some user groups, however, might just become important to the design team if the team became aware of them. Speaking as someone who has helped design a wide variety of products with some very serious people, design teams aren’t omniscient. They’ll be completely unaware of tons of different needs of tons of different significant user groups until someone says something to them about that need. That’s half the point of forums like this (and market research, and beta testing)–not checking for bugs in what you created, but figuring out what you left out for significant user groups. I think designing the system to be safe for a large group of people whose tolerance for hazardous material exposure is somewhat lower than average will benefit all users and be good for business, but the team has to define who that user group is before designing. Because the team advertises this product as being used in the middle of a home filled with small children, a pregnant person is a good sample user for that demographic, as is a baby who’s in the room while the GF is finishing a job.
I trust that the GF team is doing an awesome, extremely thoughtful job of considering usability and accessibility, partly because they’ve been so responsive to suggestions and requests like the ones on this thread.