Finalists for the 6th annual Design Challenge at the Stanford Center on Longevity were announced today – winnowed down to eight from 97 submissions by design teams from 24 countries around the world. Stanford’s tech-based contest is not the only one in the world, however it is the one event of its kind that I have followed faithfully since it all began in 2013.
Every year for fun, I vote for my top three design concepts, and then wait until mid-April to see who the winners are. This year a new piece of criteria was set for this design challenge – “students were required to include members from multiple generations, making the challenge itself an intergenerational activity.”
Let us hope this criteria continues as this fits perfectly for where I think we need to be in the discussion of how to make a better world in a longevity society where, as the next decade unfolds, there will be what I call a flattening of age – a potential for greater intergenerational connectivity.
Pillow Fight, anyone?
For the pure fun of it, this should be in the top three. Designed by students from Yuan Ze University, Taipei. As their web news page describes Pillow Fight “this cross-generational game is aimed at grandparents and grandchildren playing together. They use a pillow as interface and put hidden technology inside the daily necessity. The principal of design is based on adaptive behavior which is easy to play without age limit.”
Looking for information on the other finalists was harder this year. In previous years, design teams in universities or colleges often had set up their own website, had won previous awards, or had been some way featured in news from other sources. However, since these finalists were only announced today, there is bound to be more promotion on social media over the coming weeks.
So judging by the brief description for the others on the Stanford Design Challenge announcement page, here are two that for me, had merit for contributing to improving increasingly common intergenerational needs and interests.
i2 Housing (New York University)
Program and related app targeting the issues of student debt and isolation in the older population with a single solution built around shared intergenerational housing.
Smart Volunteer System (Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design, St. Petersburg)
System connecting seniors with a network of volunteers through an electronic bracelet, while providing security for the senior.
By April 16th these and the six other finalists will make their pitch for the $10,000 first prize, presenting their designs to companies and investors at Stanford. The big curiosity for me is, what were the other nearly ninety creative design submissions that didn’t make the cut? Who knows, we may see them in another design contest this year.