Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.

Going back to the drawing board

Posted: October 12th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - Collyer's, Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Inclusive design | No Comments »

High res teapotIn the new year The Future Perfect Company will be changing. Gone will be the shop and instead the emphasis will shift to “Designing for the Future”. And here’s why.

When I opened the shop 6 years ago, it was an attempt to focus on the ageing market. I was in my late 40s and after a legal career in the City was wanting another challenge. I didn’t have far to look.  Around me my family and friends’ lives were changing in ways we had not expected. Whilst we had anticipated our older family members’ deaths, many of us had not expected their longer lives. Suddenly many of us were becoming carers for our older family members and whereas our parents might have been responsible for one older parent, suddenly our more complicated extended families were populated by multiple older relatives. And yet our own children were still at home and dependent.

Alongside these juggling acts, we were becoming aware of our own longevity. Pension ages were pushed back, working lives extended. The prospect of an affluent retirement became a pipe dream for many.

So what to do? With a passion for good design, my initial thought was to identify and make available products which could not only “make life easier” (the promise of all assistive products at that time), but also celebrate and enrich these newly found later years.

Six years ago design for ageing was in its formative years. To use a commuting analogy, the train had left the station just about but was still chugging slowly through the outer suburbs with many stops and starts. Much of the rolling stock was dull and uninspiring but the occasional express train rushed by enough times to revive flagging spirits.

When I started The Future Perfect Company the aim was to gather together all the best examples of well designed products available and sell brands such as OXO Good Grips, Healthy Back Bags, Alex lamps as well as commission new products such as the beautiful double handled mugs and teapots made for us by Reckless Designs. At the time this was a pretty revolutionary idea with the market in its infancy. Six years on, there are now some great companies retailing the best of product design for ageing such as Spring Chicken, Designed2Enable, Active Minds and The AbleLabel.

Elicia Oliver-Knox

Elicia Oliver-Knox

At the same time as running the shop, I have been working on a project called “Designing for the Future” which encourages students to consider the challenges of ageing. Working with the University of Brighton and the College of Richard Collyers, hundreds of students have had exposure to the design challenges posed by an ageing population and produced models, prototypes and drawings of a huge range of products and services to explore, assist and celebrate later life. We have built a network of older users, tutors, industry experts, students as well as early stage designers whom we have supported and encouraged such as Chloe Meineck whose compelling Music Memory Box has its origins in “Designing for the Future”.

So with the retail side being amply catered for by others, we are going to refocus our efforts on supporting the creative people behind the new ideas and design thinking which will enrich and transform our later lives. We also have a couple more projects in the pipeline.

Watch out for the new website being launched in January 2017!

We have a few products left on The Future Perfect Company so go to www.thefutureperfectcompany.com for some great bargains and discounts.  

We are always looking for supporters and sponsors to join our “Designing for the Future” network. Please contact philippa@thefutureperfectcompany.com for more information.


Students design for dementia, fall prevention and heart strain

Posted: August 1st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Care, Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Health | No Comments »

This year’s Designing for the Future competition with the University of Brighton attracted a diverse range of entries.

Forget-Me-Not! by Nicole Andrews

Forget-Me-Not! by Nicole Andrews

Runner up Nicole Andrews designed The Forget-Me-NOT!  which is aimed at, but not limited to, individuals with early stage dementia to help with memory issues.

Nicole describes The Forget-Me-NOT! as follows : “Many people as they grow older will suffer in some way from natural cognitive decline. This product has many features including creating reminders for medication, emergency calling, photo album and contacting family members via face time or audio call. it is designed to be a stepping stone for people who are not very confident with technology. All the buttons perform simple easy to follow steps which quickly and simply takes you to the function you want. 

Being happy in every stage of life is important.  This product helps with independence which allows individuals to stay at home for longer and not feel like a burden to friends and family. As well as this the photo album and slide show allows the person to reminisce when the products reminders are not being used”.

Balance Alert Device by Theodore Poole

Balance Alert Device by Theodore Poole

Theodore Poole on the other hand, focused on wearable technology, designing a device to reduce falls in adults over 65. The product is a breathable and washable neoprene strap worn across the chest and fastened at the front which vibrates when the user becomes off balance. The vibration intensifies the more off balance the user becomes giving them the opportunity to correct their posture.

A keen sportswoman herself, Jessica Gordon Brown was concerned more about over rather than under exercising and designed Limitless a user friendly electronic wrist band which notifies the user through a series of vibrations if the physical activity they are taking part in, is putting a dangerous amount of strain on the heart. Jess explains : “The user can go about their daily as well as physical sporting activities with peace of mind that they will not overstrain their body.  With an automated start up system all the user has to do is snap the band on say their age and press the button. Simple accessible interface,  no fuss and when they are done all they have to do is take it off.  No OFF switch required.

Relatives of the user can have a worry free day, as everything they need to know is available at the touch of a button. Limitless connects to a relative’s phone and sends them a live update of where the band user is (GPS) what their heart rate is, and alerts them if it hits a dangerous level so they can check up on the user whether that being a phone call, text message or in person to see if they are ok.”

 


Student designs focus on reducing malnutrition in older adults

Posted: August 1st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Care, Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Health, Inclusive design | No Comments »
Five Knives by Benson Pocock

Five Knives by Benson Pocock

University of Brighton student Benson Pocock took second place in this year’s Designing for the Future Competition with his 5 Knives Concept which aims to tackle malnutrition in older people.

Benson’s design is aimed at the 65+ demographic which is one of the biggest demographic cohorts today. In 2010 there were 524 million people worldwide aged 60 and above. This age group is predicted to increase by 50% in the next 20 years in Britain alone. In 2011 38% of this age group living in the community were reported to be either at risk or suffering from malnutrition.  In hospitals it was a staggering 86%.

Benson concluded from his research that one of the main causes of malnutrition were loneliness and depression and he set himself the challenge of finding ways to incentivise and encourage the elderly  to get back into the kitchen and start preparing healthy and nutritious meals again.

The product itself is a set of two kitchen knife blocks that are connected wirelessly. Each set has 5 knives, each with a specific blade for a certain food type. Each knife has an assigned colour, for example green for fruit and vegetables, red for meat and brown for bread. The holders have built in micro switches that detect when a specific knife is removed. This sends a signal to the other holder that illuminates the corresponding coloured LEDs.

Five Knives

Five Knives

One holder is given to the elderly user and the other is given to a friend or family member.

This connection works in two ways. For the elderly user the product is a way of connecting with friends or family. So when they are in the kitchen and they see their holder changing colour they know that the other person is in the kitchen too. Therefore they feel as if they are completing the previously lonely task, together.

For the other user, either a friend or family member, the holder is a way in which to monitor the eating habits of the elderly user, as well as connecting with them. There is an app for monitoring and recording the eating habits over a period of time. For example, if only the bread knife was being used then the friend or family member would be able to see a potential eating concern appearing and take precautions accordingly.

Forks for Friends by Peter Barr

Forks for Friends by Peter Barr

Student Peter Barr also considered using food as a way of initiating social interaction between older and younger adults and thus combating social isolation, loneliness and malnutrition among the solitary elderly population. With his product Forks for Friends, each user owns two halves of opposite sides of a knife and fork. These halves are placed into the unit (which automatically detects them and locks) and sits idle on a dining table or kitchen unit.

The user chooses a date and time that they would like to eat with the other person on the companion application. This invitation is then sent over to the other user who can then accept or decline. When a date is confirmed between the two, the unit communicates with the users’ smart device and syncs the date internally.

When the day comes around, an orange glow lights up a white ring on the outside of the unit, serving as a visual reminder of the dinner date. The user can then carry the product over to the other person’s house at the chosen time using the ergonomic handle. The partner products can detect each others’ presence when one is placed beside the other. This releases the cutlery, allowing the two opposite sides of the cutlery to come together with magnets. A social interaction through food is achieved.

As Peter explains :”This interaction also has the benefit of mitigating the onset of malnutrition, which is common among solitary living elderly adults. The presence of another person encourages the elderly user to eat a full, more nutritious meal”.

 

 

 


Student uses Virtual Reality in dementia care

Posted: August 1st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Care, Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton | No Comments »
Tom Meades - Specific Virtual Spaces

Tom Meades – Specific Virtual Spaces

One of the most innovative and exciting ideas to come out of this year’s Designing for the Future with the University of Brighton was Tom Meades’ project which aims to use Virtual Reality to creative immersive experiences for people living with dementia.

Tom explains : “My project began with researching the issues of stress in people with dementia. People living with dementia commonly experience huge amounts of stress due to a misunderstanding of their surroundings. In mid-late stage patients, recent years are forgotten and only a memory of how the world was in their 20’s remains. This insight led me to an exploration into how we could provide comfort for those patients, trying to relieve some of the stress experienced, resulting in a happier more fulfilling life.

I began studying other design solutions to memory-loss. Designing for the Future alumna Chloe Meineck’s Music Memory Box worked fantastically in evoking memories from the past, giving Alzheimer’s sufferers comfort in their surroundings. I wanted to discover how these physical objects can trigger stress-relieving experiences, and how we could use technology to increase these effects to benefit future patients.

tom with google cardboardMemory Maps by Copenhagen institute of Interaction Design students focused on memories from now, that could be recorded and shared between families to benefit Alzheimer’s patients. They recorded stories and memories through an audio device at specific locations, which could then be re-experienced walking around an area with headphones on. This inspired me to use already recorded information from Facebook (frequently visited locations, music shared, friends spoken too) and to create a space that can be individual to a User. Facebook own around 1.65 billion user-accounts, that all store an individual’s information. Mark Zuckerberg has recently showed huge interest in Virtual Reality software, buying Oculus Rift for $2 billion.

My idea is to create immersive experiences that provide calming environments for Alzheimer’s patients to escape into. These will be completely user-specific, which will be accessible through a process similar to ‘Logging On’ on Facebook. Today, basic VR products such as Google Cardboard gives users the ability to access any location worldwide through the Maps application. By adding in interactive abilities, 1.65 billion people could be immersed in an environment that mimics life in their twenties.

In these spaces, people could communicate with old friends (Using same colloquialism, due to information input from Facebook), and view old photos and videos that would feel very relevant to patients. Due to Chloe Meineck’s product-research being so effective in calming people with Alzheimer’s, I am certain that we can harness modern technology to create easily-accessible, stress-free care homes through the use of immersive Virtual Reality experiences.

I have created a virtual space that is specific to me, based on my childhood in rural Worcestershire. Here I have views of the Malvern Hills, farm buildings, large fields and animals that roam around. This is accessible through Google Cardboard, and can be downloaded onto any Android device. I hope to develop this project further by working with experienced Game Designers, to refine a very detailed memory-evoking immersion“.


Memory Book wins student dementia challenge

Posted: August 1st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Care, Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Health | No Comments »
Elicia Oliver-Knox

Elicia Oliver-Knox

Joint winner of this year’s Designing for the Future with the University of Brighton was Elicia Oliver-Knox who describes her project, Get to know Irene, here:

THE PROBLEM

While I was doing some research for this Dementia project, a member of staff at The Autumn Lodge Care Home mentioned that the transition period for new residents can be very stressful and sometimes have a negative effect on their health and 
well-being.  Understandably, a new resident can feel a heightened sense of unrest and confusion when placed in a new home surrounded by unfamiliar faces. As a result, they can withdraw and be reluctant to engage with the other residents. In addition to this, existing residents can also get agitated by the sudden appearance of a strange person.

THE PRODUCT

The product I have designed is a multi-sensory, memory- sharing book to help residents during this transition period. It is designed to spark memories, helping to create connections between an individual and their past and facilitate the formation of friendships through shared experience and nostalgia. The book is filled with information, pictures, sounds and textures related to the life of the new resident. A copy would be given to the care home in advance of the new resident’s arrival, where it can be read and shared among the existing residents. This will help to create a level of familiarity and decrease anxiety levels for residents old and new during this period.

MULTI-SENSORY

The pages of Irene’s early years and school life feature treasured photographs and memorabilia from that time. To accompany the images, Irene’s family have recounted her experiences in an autobiographical style. This information will help Irene connect to her past, matching dates to places and names to faces.

These highly visual pages not only provide a window into Irene’s life, but offer subjects for discussion and help identify areas of common ground.

Using audio modules, some photographs are accompanied by familiar sounds from her past. For example, the song Irene sang at her first performance in the community choir, her wedding song, and the music she loved to dance to. These audio modules help to make the experience more immersive and relieve the cognitive strain of reading for Dementia sufferers. Auditory stimulation is especially effective for people with Dementia as it enhances a positive mood.

The third source of sensory stimulation in the book is texture. One of Irene’s favourite past-times was sewing, so it seemed fitting that an embroidered handkerchief she made years ago should be set into one of the pages. Providing sensory stimulation for people experiencing Dementia not only recalls memories through association but has been shown to reduce agitation and restlessness.

Get to Know Irene by Elicia Oliver-Knox

Get to Know Irene by Elicia Oliver-Knox

SHARING

My idea is that the books should be kept in a communal area of the care home so they are easily accessible to all residents. Carers should make the residents aware that they are there and encourage them to look through them. A second copy must also be given to the person whose life it features, as it will be a constant reminder of who they are and the life they have lived. Care homes could organize social activities and ‘get to know you’ discussions based on what they have learnt of residents through these books.

I approached this project with some hesitation as Dementia is, unfortunately, often considered a taboo subject. I was concerned about asking awkward questions on such a sensitive subject.  However, my initial worries were far out-weighed by the strength of my interest in the subject and as the project progressed I didn’t want it to end. I really enjoyed trying to create something I believed could help Dementia sufferers in some way. While developing my product, I met nurses and patients that have first hand experience of this dreadful disease and I found that very humbling. Creating something that nurses thought would genuinely help their patients was very rewarding and the whole process has been a invaluable experience. “

 


Digital compass aims to tackle ageism

Posted: August 1st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Inclusive design | No Comments »
Pebble by Eli Heath

Pebble by Eli Heath

Joint winner of this year’s Designing for the Future with the University of Brighton was Eli Heath who designed Pebble, a digital compass which aims to tackle ageism head on.

Eli describes his project as follows:

“WHAT IS IT?

Pebble is a hand-held, digital compass. Pebble tackles ageist material division and prejudice within product design.

Pebble is activated by pressing the screen downwards. A blue dot then appears on the screen and points towards a chosen location. This location is set via a dial-up telephone service, a website or an app.

HOW DOES IT TACKLE AGEISM?

Pebble features mechanical operation, refined functionality and is constructed using traditional materials. Through these means, it provides a radical and necessary alternative to how technology can be designed to optimise it’s usability.

Usable technology is accessible to all age demographics. This empowers older people to use digital technology and creates more opportunity for equal and positive interactions between individuals of different ages.

Pebble is a desirable alternative to Sat Navs and GoogleMaps and therefore offers an opportunity for younger generations to empathise more with older generations. For example, a young person using the compass to find their way to a friend’s house would always know the general direction they have to go, but may have to check journey specifics by asking passers by and by checking street maps. In doing so, they become familiar with some of the challenges of living in a pre-digital world”


West Sussex County Times features DFF Collyers

Posted: June 9th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - Collyer's, Press coverage | Comments Off on West Sussex County Times features DFF Collyers
WSCT features DFF Collyers

WSCT features DFF Collyers

Nice write up about this year’s Desiging for the Future 2016 at Collyers in today’s West Sussex County Times.


Designing for the Future tackles dementia and smart technology

Posted: June 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Inclusive design | No Comments »

 

Get to Know Irene by Elicia Oliver-Knox

Get to Know Irene by Elicia Oliver-Knox

This year’s Designing for the Future Competition invited students from the University of Brighton’s College of Arts & Humanities to develop innovative new products and design concepts to benefit people affected by dementia. A parallel project with students studying product design investigated smart technology. In each case, students were encouraged to produce design outcomes which were desirable, supported real areas of need and inspired new approaches and attitudes.

2016’s joint winners are Elicia Oliver-Knox (BA Design & Craft) and Eli Heath (BSc Product Design).

Elicia’s winning product is a multi-sensory, memory-sharing book to help residents during the transition from home to residential care. It is designed to spark memories, helping to create connections between an individual and their past and facilitate the formation of friendships through shared experience and nostalgia. The book is filled with information, pictures, sounds and textures related to the life of the new resident. A copy would be given to the care home in advance of the new resident’s arrival, where it can be read and shared among the existing residents. This will help to create a level of familiarity and decrease anxiety levels for residents old and new during this period.

Pebble by Eli Heath

Pebble by Eli Heath

Judge Maggie Winchcombe from Years Ahead says: “I was impressed with the quality of all the students’ entries but Elicia’s project stood out because of the creative way it aimed to address the difficulties that people living with dementia often face in adjusting to communal life in residential care. This is something that is rarely spoken about but is a very real unmet need.”

Says winner Elicia Oliver-Knox “I approached this project with some hesitation as dementia is, unfortunately, often considered a taboo subject. I was concerned about asking awkward questions about such a sensitive subject.  However, my initial worries were far out-weighed by the strength of my interest and as the project progressed I didn’t want it to end. I really enjoyed trying to create something I believed could help people living with dementia in some way”.

Eli Heath’s winning design, Pebble, is a hand-held, digital compass which aims “to tackle ageist material division and prejudice within product design”. Pebble is activated by pressing the screen which produces a blue dot pointing towards a chosen location. This location is set via a dial-up telephone service, a website or an app. In his presentation, Eli explained that during his research he came to the realisation that instead of designing a product specifically for older people, he wanted to design a product that was non-stigmatising and universal.

Other finalists included Thomas Meades, Laith Kawar, Jenny Whitworth, Benson Pocock, Nicole Andrews and Yasmin Caon-Beik.

The winners receive a package of mentoring and support to help them to develop their products and ideas further and emulate the success of previous Designing for the Future alumni who have gone on to win further awards and establish their own design studios and workshops. The network also aims to create opportunities to DFF alumni. This year, finalist Thomas Meades and alumnus Jack Durling were invited to run art and design workshops as part of a collaboration with the Michael Aldrich Foundation and Balfour Primary School in Brighton.

Peter Dale, Chair of the South East England Forum on Ageing commented: “Ageing needs to be better understood by younger people and the Designing for the Future Competition is a real example of how this can be achieved.  The innovation demonstrated by the entrants was impressive, but most of all their designs reflected a sense of understanding about what their own futures may hold.  Ageing is the future for all of us and for these students, as a result of this competition, it will hold much less fear than for many of their contemporaries.”

Says Philippa Aldrich of the Future Perfect Company: “The Designing for the Future Competition continues to grow. We are particularly grateful this year to the many experts and organisations who have shared their expertise with our students including : Dementia Friends, Active Minds, Eastbourne Designed for All, previous Designing for the Future finalists – Chloe Meineck and Jack Durling, solicitor John Greager and occupational therapist, Fran Hamilton from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.”

Judges this year included; Philippa Aldrich and Molly Aldrich-Wincer from The Future Perfect Company; Tom Serpell, Director of Eastbourne Designed for All; Marie Harris, Managing Director of Beta Futures; Peter Dale, Chair of SEEFA; Maggie Winchcombe OBE, FCOT, Director at Years Ahead; Martyna Konopka, winner Designing for the Future 2014.  The project was led by Dr Tom Ainsworth and Dr Eddy Elton.

 

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Catching up with some of our DFF alumni

Posted: May 28th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Miscellaneous | Comments Off on Catching up with some of our DFF alumni
Wind sock installation by Jack Durling

Wind sock installation by Jack Durling

We are always excited to find out to hear from our talented Designing for the Future alumni and find out what they are up to.

Chloe Meineck, designer of the Music Memory Box will be showcasing her work at this year’s Alzheimers Show at London’s Olympia on 10-11 June.

Chloe has also joined the Design Together, Live Better project. This new online platform  aims to connect citizens (patients, carers, family members, friends or anyone interested in health) with companies and entrepreneurs to co-create new healthcare solutions based on real needs.

2013 runner up Jack Durling has just finished a community arts project with the Aldrich Collection and Balfour Primary School where he worked with 120 primary school children to create a stunning installation of colourful windsocks as part of the Open Houses Festival which runs during Brighton Festival.  Jack is about to move into his new studio in Brighton.

Also taking part in the Balfour project was brand new alumnus and second year student Tom Meades (who was was runner up in this year’s competition – more information to follow). Tom ran workshops for 120 children encouraging them to re-design their playgrounds.

2014 winner Martyna Konopka graduates from the University of Brighton this year and will be showcasing her final year work at the Brighton Design Exhibition next week. Her work is a development of her award winning stroke rehabilitation jug.

It’s great to see how well our alumni are progressing in the creative careers and we will keep you posted!


“About Retirement” writer publishes his first book

Posted: May 28th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft, Retirement | No Comments »
Howard Croft

Howard Croft

We were delighted to hear that Howard Croft, an early contributor to this blog, has just published his first book.

Howard’s hugely enjoyable and often irreverent insights into the world of retirement ran on an almost weekly basis for several years and can be revisited HERE. Howard went on to write over 250 articles for the Malton and Pickering Mercury, his articles continuing to take a quirky, usually amusing, view on all things local, medical, literary, political, family, canine and international.

“Howard’s Way” is a collection of a little over 100 of the articles from the first five years of Howard’s work for the Malton and Pickering Mercury and is being sold to raise funds for the Ryedale Book Festival. CLICK HERE for more details.