Awake the Design Challenge indeed! Like the sweet promise of spring, so comes the promise of happiness in longevity as encouraged by the fresh breezes of design creativity. This has carried my thinking, starting in January and my YouTube interview with Louisa Jewell – President of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association. Then, we spoke in broad terms about the theme of the 2016 Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge – “Using Happiness to Optimize Longevity”.
Since then, the twelve Design Challenge finalists in this 3rd annual contest were announced and in early April the top three winners will be decided. As in the past two years I have chosen my top 3 pix just for fun, and in so doing this time I wanted to find the one that best tapped into this notion of optimizing happiness – and in that process, I found the one that hit another important angle, and that is the usefulness to inter-generational connectivity.
My top three design pix.
There is simple logic and fun in the story of my #1 choice – POTALK. If inspiration is everything to go by, the team from the National Chiao-Tung University in Taiwan expressed it ever so well by saying that “…the best way to improve communication between generations was to design an object that reminded families not to give up trying.”
POTALK. So, basically, what is it -? A talking plant. Water weekly. Communicate as often as you want. Don’t kill the plant. Considering the fact that I’ve majored in plant killing for years, this could be the thing that works for me. POTALK encourages conversation. I’m a yapper. Don’t kill the conversation. Think of it as the medium you would use to communicate when you don’t want anyone to see you in your pyjamas on Skype.
POTALK also reminded me of the story Louisa Jewell shared in our interview, about how she gave her mother the responsibility of watering the plant in her room at the retirement residence, in a small way to encourage her to find as sense of purpose. What they could have done with POTALK.
Aging – it’s all in the game.
My #2 finalist choice is another item designed in Taiwan – Memoir Monopoly.
This also touches on the element of fun and interaction, connectivity on another level; as described by designers Cho Szu-Yang and Cheng Ya-Fang – “integrates photos from the players’ lives into interactive challenges that exercise their memory and recognition abilities”. While this product links itself to helping people with dementia, it also has great use for inter-generational connectivity.
And my #3 finalist – Dex. While the first two fall under the category of Mind, this product fits under the Mobility category. These are two of the Stanford Center missions to “help people reach old age mentally sharp and physically fit.” Dex, developed by Elyn Wu out of the National University of Singapore joins the fast emerging area of “wearable technology”. While this product addresses a health fitness consciousness, it also has a games based element, as does Memoir Monopoly.
Of course, the other nine finalists must have enough of the same ingredients to make it through – but the big winner in all this is the design thinking community. SO – do these three winners meet the “Using Happiness to Optimize Longevity” theme? If you equate fun, creative design thinking and technology with everyday usefulness, then for me the answer is – yes!