Up-And-Coming Designs for Independent Aging

I was honored last fall to be selected to serve on the judging panel for the Stanford Center on Longevity’s 2016-17 Design Challenge – “Innovating Aging in Place.” The Challenge’s chief aim is to encourage a new generation of designers to become engaged in finding creative solutions that support well-being across the life span. Conducted in collaboration with Aging 2.0, the Challenge is open to student submissions from any accredited university worldwide.

As it turned out, submissions were almost 50% higher this year than last year, with a total of 75 submissions being submitted from 43 universities representing 8 states and 12 countries. Clearly young designers are embracing the importance of design innovation to encourage independent living and healthy aging for the older population.

Since it was impossible for every judge on the panel to review every submission, the Center employed a sophisticated scoring and weighting system to compile and normalize all of the judge’s scores to choose the winners. In the end, 9 finalists were chosen and announced late last month.

I was amazed by the clever, innovative, and sometimes downright delightful designs that I was given to review, and I took my judging task very seriously. And I was very pleased to learn, when the announcements came out, that two of the designs I reviewed and gave high scores to, made it into the finalist pool: Beehome and UPPO.

Beehome is a housing platform that matches seniors with tenants who exchange assistance on household chores for affordable housing. Such a model will help many seniors stay in their homes or move into new communities where they can continue to live independently even though they cannot do all of the maintenance and chores around the house that they used to be able to do.

Uppo is a “rollator walker” that has an arm rest at a high and wide position that reinforces scapular retraction – which improves posture. The walker is also collapsible and compact enough to be transported easily. Uppo will help seniors continue to live a mobile life and maintain posture and physical conditioning.

All nine finalists will be pitching their designs on March 30 at the Li Ka Shing Learning and Knowledge Center in Palo Alto, CA; the event is open to the public. It’s free but you must register ahead of time to attend. Sign up at the 2017 Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge Finals registration page.

If you’d like to learn more about this design challenge, visit the Stanford Center on Longevity’s Facebook page, RedesignLongLife.


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