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Longevity Market Product Design: The Stanford Challenge and Beyond

Stria Staff June 4, 2018

Recently the Stanford Center on Longevity announced its 2018-19 Design Challenge theme: “Contributing at Every Age: Designing for Intergenerational Impact.” Established in 2013, the Challenge is a global competition aimed at encouraging students to design products and services to improve the lives of people across all ages.

This year’s Challenge is taking a novel approach to intergenerational design. “Rather than studying the perceived needs of older or younger generations as an outsider, it is possible to look to people of all ages for what they know and how they can contribute,” says Ken Smith, Director of the Center’s Mobility Division. Ken shared the benefits of this approach in his recent essay for Stria.

Read his piece and then check out these articles on how longevity market companies can and should think about designing products for older adults.

Headlines & Insights: Curated excerpts from thought-provoking articles

The Design Superstars of the Future Will Be Designing for Their Grandparents
Quartz / by Anne Quito

Product innovation firms are studying the aging market but have yet to come up with breakthrough solutions. Frog Design’s “Aging By Design” initiative aptly summarizes the state of design today: “While there are a number of home care products and services on the market that intend to preserve the dignity of the seniors, most are piecemeal solutions that fail to integrate well with other products and services—or real lifestyles—and are often too confusing and difficult to be used effectively.”

Industrial design student Andy Yu, who was crowned winner of this year’s US national James Dyson Award on Sept. 7, is ahead of the curve. A junior at the Rhode Island School of Design, Yu created a prototype cup for people with arthritis or Parkinson’s who have shaky grips and weak arms. …

“I believe that a well-considered mixed group of audiences can help guide the direction of the design,” Yu tells Quartz. “A lot of the inventions focus on medical and technological help that they need, but I want to focus on creating a comfortable product that matches their current needs for daily life.”

Baby Boomers Are Aging And Designers Need To Adapt
Fast Company / By Katharine Schwab

For decades, baby boomers have been a focus for companies and marketers thanks to their sheer size as a demographic. Now that they’re aging, the business case for continuing to cater to the generation remains just as strong. This means design that accounts for aging bodies and minds; as they get older, people face challenges like increased difficulty with multitasking, remembering new behaviors, and controlling fine-motor function. The benefits for designing to these challenges are obvious, but when you create a product that’s easier to use for people of different abilities, you often end up creating something that’s better for all users a core tenet of inclusive design.

Design Thinking Can Help Improve Care for the Elderly
Harvard Business Review / by Rebecca Weintraub and José Colucci, Jr.

How do we ensure our elderly population is taking proven medications to alleviate suffering, treat disease, and promote health? By understanding end users and their environments, which is what design thinking is all about. Studying how patients consume their medications is key to generating better health outcomes. Design matters, especially for our aging population.