Stanford Design Challenge 17/18

“Promoting Lifelong Healthy Habits Through Design”

With the champagne fizz still alive after the celebration of this year’s event finals on March 30th, the Stanford Center on Longevity has announced this theme for their 5h annual Design Challenge 2017-18. Based on the web site overview, in this context, healthy habits include financial, physical and social behaviours that lead to improve the quality of life. Of course, those are the three focal points for the Stanford longevity story line.

It is a misnomer to think that all this design work, the development of technology based products and services, is merely meant for those who are already at a later stage of life. I have picked up a strong sense from listening to and observing those targeting this field of aging and longevity, that they are doing just that, in a simple paraphrasing “finding design solutions for a senior population” – or even more narrowly the categorized elderly.

You might actually have to take more time to read between the lines on all of this, which on first pass most people do not do. Stanford’s message is based on the life course model – “Optimizing for quality of life therefore includes actions and behaviors at all ages.” As they go on to say about this Design Challenge – we are, “looking for design ideas which promote habits that improve quality of life across the age spectrum

If you look at the first place winner for this season 2016/17 – TAME which stands for Tremor Acquisition & Minimization it is obvious they got that life course premise; you don’t have to be older in years to have issues with body tremors.

So when the next round of products comes up for any design contest, it will be worth noting more closely, as to which of the contenders for the prize looks at optimized longevity as being the quest of people at all life stages. In that sense, I like that the theme for this coming Design Challenge moves us more to reflect on the journey, not a destination as connoted by this year’s theme “aging in place”.

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