Human-Centered Design for Seniors

During the Spring 2015 semester, I took a cross-disciplinary human-centered design course called “Innovative Ideation”. The course was open to business, graphic, and design students and was taught by three professors for these disciplines. During the course, we learned about the design process, rapid prototyping, and how to use empathy to design better products.

For our final project called “Designing for the Third Act”, we worked in teams of three with students from each discipline and focused were assigned to design a product for older users (ages 65+). To do human-centered design for seniors, we had to start by understanding our users. We did exercises that helped us experience aging by reducing our eye sight and mobility and then interviewed potential users to better understand their needs and areas of “friction”. We decided to interview “mall walkers” at our local mall. We were surprised at how active these seniors were and their dedication to health and fitness. At this same time I read an article called “The Overprotected Kid” and discovered how important play is in our lives. My teammates and I started to question the lack of play, older people have in their lives and started to connect the dots between fitness and play.

Drawing inspiration from Korea, we decided to make exercise equipment for parks that would be fun to use and could be used by the whole community. These equipment would be low-impact and be most beneficial for geriatric health even though it could be used by the whole community. Having exercise equipment in parks, especially near playgrounds, would encourage cross-generation interaction and play as well as support the health of the community.

We branded this park equipment as “Geriatrex” and would market these playgrounds to city park departments and community groups such as The Lions Club. We would get our equipment from outside outdoor equipment manufacturers and be the middle-man between cities and these manufacturers.

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