Mobility Challenge Winners Press Release

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Palo Alto, CA – April 10, 2015

The Stanford Center on Longevity, in collaboration with Aging2.0, announced Nicholas Steigmann and Maiya Jensen from the California College of the Arts and their project “SPAN” as the winner of the second annual student Design Challenge, the finals of which were held yesterday, April 9, 2015 at Stanford University.

The Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge is a global competition aimed at encouraging students to design products and services to improve the lives of older adults. In this second year, the Challenge focused on ways to motivate / empower mobility among older adults in their daily lives, both inside their homes and in their community.

SPAN, the winning project, is a portable structure that provides older adults with a secure platform to get up and down from the ground in a safe and independent manner. It addressed the fear and functional limitations that many seniors have, and allows them to build (or in some cases, rebuild) the confidence to engage fully in their lives again. The team was awarded a $10,000 cash prize.

“When we think about mobility, we generally only consider horizontal movement. These young inventors have discovered a need to support older adults in their vertical movement and then created a convenient, supportive tool to make that movement safer and easier. Thus, maintaining and restoring the independence and confidence of older adults,” said Teresa Do, Senior Manager of Technology Partnership and Investment at LG Electronics and panelist during yesterday’s event.

Prizes were also awarded to HandleBar (second place: $5,000), Luna Lights (third place: $2,000) and Flipod (Stanford Longevity Technology Prize). The Stanford Longevity Technology Prize, in collaboration with Qualcomm and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, awarded Flipod with $5,000 and the opportunity to travel to Dalian, China in September and present at the WEF’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions (AMNC).

The day-long event marked the conclusion to a global competition that kicked off in September 2014, and saw submissions from 42 student teams across 31 Universities and 11 countries. The event featured presentations by the 8 finalist teams delivered to an expert judging panel. “We were really impressed by the student presentations this year. The caliber was outstanding, and every one of the finalists would have made a worthy winner.” said Ken Smith, Director of Mobility at the Stanford Center on Longevity.

The day also featured keynotes by noted world experts, as well as a Corporate Panel focused on designing for scale.

The full list of finalists was as follows (in alphabetical order):

Fitness Hunt – University of Parma – Encourages home-based exercise via a “hunt” through a smartphone-based application and sensor system. The system uses social (intergenerational) interaction to bring together older adults with their grandchildren or family members, in an effort to increase physical activity throughout the home.

Flipod – National University of Singapore – Assistive bed rotation device for non-ambulatory individuals. This airbag-enabled device uniquely targets individuals at the lowest end of the physical activity spectrum (muscular dystrophy patients), and allows them increased independence through moving about their bed without the aid of caregivers.

Getting Active Outdoors – San Francisco State University – Modified trekking poles optimized for older users encourages exercise opportunities by providing people specialized instruments to traverse natural surroundings.

HandleBar – University of California, Berkeley – Ratcheting stair assist railing for older people to safely ascend and descend stairs in their homes allows for increased independence while still encouraging individuals to climb under their own power.

Physioart – College for Creative Studies (Michigan) – Combines physical therapy with art therapy using Microsoft Kinect technology. This program is optimized for both stroke recovery and in increasing daily levels of activity while allowing users to generate savable works of digital art.

Luna Lights – Northwestern University – Sensor-based automated lighting system that utilizes data analytics to prevent falls and keep older adults independent and mobile at night. The system provides physical and visual guidance for traversing one’s home, reducing risk of falls during one of the most common fall times.

SyncAlong – Holon Institute of Technology (Israel) – Synchronized exercise program with a family member or friend, promotes social connectedness via interactive feedback with another person over a video feed.

SPAN – California College of the Arts – SPAN is a portable structure that provides the user with a secure platform to get up and down from the ground in a safe and independent manner. The device provides the senior with physical and emotional security while engaging with their lives.

The day also included talks from experts from academia and industry, including:

Laura Carstensen, Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr. Professor in Public Policy, Professor of Psychology, Director, Stanford Center on Longevity
Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition
James Landay, Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University
Ken Smith, Stanford Center on Longevity
Lauren Grieco, Stanford Center on Longevity
Stephen Johnston, Aging 2.0
Benjamin Sarda, Orange Healthcare
Alexis Kantor, Target
Teresa Do, LG Electronics
Amber Cartwright, Airbnb
Dennis Lin, EatWell Co-Founder

Next year, the 2015-2016 Design Challenge will focus on “Using Happiness to Optimize Longevity.” Students will be posed with three challenge tracks and can choose to participate in the “Mind Challenge: Delight the Mind,” the “Mobility Challenge: Discover the Motion,” or the “Financial Security Challenge: Engage in Conversation.” More details will be available at

About The Stanford Center on Longevity
The mission of the Stanford Center on Longevity is to redesign long life. The Center studies the nature and development of the human life span, looking for innovative ways to use science and technology to solve the problems of people over 50 by improving the well-being of people of all ages. For more information, visit the Center’s website.

About Aging 2.0
Aging2.0 is a global organization on a mission to accelerate innovation that will improve the lives of older adults around the world. Aging2.0 connects, educates and supports innovators through its global chapter network, Academy startup program, consumer panel, conferences and corporate partner programs. In less than three years, Aging2.0 has become the premier global platform for discovering and cultivating innovations focused on aging and senior care