Design Jam for Healthy Aging

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                                    Insights & Learning from the Event 

Research from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention indicates that falls are a serious threat to the safety of seniors and an obstacle to living a healthy life. Aimed to help participants develop better solutions “The Design Jam for Healthy Ageing” provided a unique one-day boot-camp on human centered design. Centered around the Open Ideo Challenge on Fall Prevention sponsored by AARP services, it provided participants with the tools, themes and resources to realize their ideas into prototypes.


With different personas embodying the needs of different seniors: Independent, Transitional and Struggling, participants gained insights from the lives of each of the personas through the empathy map exercise. The mentors for the event: Bettina Fleiger-active contributor on the Open Ideo Platform, Shraddha Bhatia-Physical Therapist, Adhish Patel -MS’ 17 did an excellent job in facilitating and giving direction to each team. Prof. Anne Laure  Fayard from Tandon School of Engineering and Joanna Spoth, Open Ideo Challenge Manager, the hosts for the day and the people instrumental in putting together the entire show with the support of mentors kept the participants engaged throughout the day. Be it, through their tips on brainstorming and ideating or through their rich feedback on the prototypes, the organizers ensured that teams were inspired to  work collaboratively to address the problem of ageing and mobility.


The sponsors from AARP were kind enough to share insights from their research. An interesting insight about caregivers for seniors in the US was in the year 2010 the ratio was 7 :1 i.e 7 care givers for 1 senior and the ratio has been declining and it is expected to be 4:1 by the year 2020. Another insight was the increase in cost of care-giving-medical & other expenses, expected to create a $77 Billion market by the year 2020.

With respect to the solution both the sponsors and the facilitating team gave pointers on developing the solution:

  • Design for the right audience
  • Take into account other actors in the life of seniors-Family/Caregivers
  • Focus on improving the quality of life
  • Empowerment tools-Ensuring seniors don’t lose their independence/identity
  • Design for Dignity
  • Creating a Sophisticated Information Network


All 6 teams were formed by the organizers randomly, since the participants were a mix of students from different NYU Schools. Almost all the team members were new to each other. It was interesting to see how these adhoc teams with unknown members came together for a short span and developed riveting prototypes. Each team selected a persona that resonated with them and focused on creating a solution alleviating their user’s pain-points. With the light prototyping material available and short time frame of an hour and a half to prototype the teams did a wonderful job coming up with medium to low fidelity prototypes that checked a number of boxes from  user perspective.  The themes from the research phase on the platform: Soften the Stigma, Practice makes Prevention, What Surrounds Us, Re-imagined devices and Stronger Together  were reflected in these prototypes:

  1. Walking Alive: A game based on scenarios to help you practice falling.
  2. A Couple’s Course on Ageing & Falls
  3. A live TV Show on Exercise and Healthy Practices
  4. Fall Prevention Sensors around the house
  5. Interactive assessment application that connects users with complementary abilities and makes personalized suggestions of ways to improve quality of life.
  6.  Freedom Program: A five phase program of community building and healthy ageing with informational tools.


The original plan by the organizing  team was to award $500 to 2 teams to advance their prototyping, but all six teams put up an excellent show and pleased by their ideas and prototypes, the organizers awarded $250 for prototyping to each team. Teams will have an opportunity to showcase their work on April 25 at the Prototyping  Fund showcase to be held in the Event Space.

Stay tuned for more updates on fall prevention.