FILLanthropy: Mind Finalist in This Year’s Design Challenge

FILLanthropy Stanford Longevity Challenge Website

FILLanthropy (Mind)

Team Lead: Annabel Chen
University: Stanford University

An online volunteer matching service for people of all backgrounds and interests who want to share their time and talent with each other, FILLanthropy emerged from team lead Annabel Chang’s studies at the Stanford Center on Longevity’s practicum course. “I’m writing a paper with Dawn Carr (another researcher at the Center) about the importance of promoting Asian volunteerism in healthy aging,” she explains, “and decided that this would be something worth doing a Design Challenge on.”

Designing FILLanthropy
“We started toying with the idea last Summer, and refined the concept throughout the year. We created about four versions of the concept before settling on the volunteering matching model. We had three versions of the website before we arrived at the one that we submitted.”

FILLanthropy Stanford Longevity Challenge Profile

Lessons Learned Designing FILLanthropy
“The most important thing to keep in mind was that we have to design for everyone, but to address a problem that faces seniors. All research points to the fact that starting volunteering before retirement has the most positive effects. We also learned that there’s a huge gap between what research says is good for aging, and what people actually want to do. Most people/agencies that we talked to agreed that this would be something that’s good for them, but still seemed hesitant about starting volunteering.”

Future Plans for FILLanthropy
“We plan on launching the website and start rallying local retirement homes and non-profits to implement it. Our next big step would also be to expand our design to incorporate other languages.”


Yedi70 Stanford Design Challenge website

Yedi70 (Mind)

Team Lead: Özge Armutcu
University: Koc University at Istanbul

A social network and informational resource for seniors connected to an online marketplace, Yedi70 was partly inspired by attendance at the Global Summit on Aging 2.0 in San Francisco last May, where the team met the managing board of the Stanford Center on Longevity. “We were very inspired by their mission, and we noticed that our vision matched theirs,” says team lead Özge Armutcu. “This was the reason that we decided to pursue this challenge.”

Yedi70 was also motivated by a personal tragedy among the team:

“Fatih, one of our cofounders, lost his grandmother in 2013 due to pancreatic cancer. After this loss, he talked with her friends, now the partners of Yedi70. After further research, we found that there was a reality that we were never aware of: the world is aging drastically. We started thinking about how we could improve quality of life and preventative health among seniors.”

Time Developing Yedi70
“We started the project on July 6th 2015, and the website was launched in October 2015. We are still using the first version of our design; however, day by day we are implementing new features while keeping the core essence of our design. For instance, we launched our personalization technology in February 2016.”

Design Lessons Learned Creating Yedi70
‘From our initial research, we found out that the world population is aging drastically. During our testing period, we noticed that people needed guidance and systematic recommendations along with services that they can easily access through a personalized marketplace.”

Yedi70 mobile Stanford Design Challenge

Future Plans for Yedi70
“By the end of December 2016 we would like to reach 300,000 members in Turkey. We believe that our design is not bound to any location, but on the contrary, can be a global solution for seniors. Starting in 2017, we want to scale our model to the US market, and then expand our model globally.”

Together-Green: Mind Finalist in This Year’s Challenge

Together Green Stanford Design Challenge prototype

Together-Green (Mind)

Team Lead: Carrie Gladstone
University: UC Berkeley

Using pairs of potted plants integrated with Internet-connected sensors, Together-Green enables families separated by distance to help each other monitor and care for their plants as a shared goal. It was inspired, says team lead Carrie Gladstone, by reading A Long Bright Future, from Stanford Center on Longevity’s Founding Director Laura Carstensen.

“The idea of empowering healthy longevity resonated with me, and when I finally returned to grad school, I was excited to participate. With a strong team — Anna with a business background in innovation, Abbey with experience in geriatric social work, and with my work in business and aging — we were excited to create something that could bring joy to older people. We wanted to create something for people — not just for disabled/seniors — and we loved how the Challenge focused on enhancing the positive aspects of an older individual’s life and what remains possible, and then magnified that with a product.”

Together-Green also had a personal source of inspiration: “Carrie’s friend Kisa (now in her mid-eighties) has been an avid gardener for most of her life, but tending a garden has recently become too much for her to manage on her own. We were looking for a way to help people like Kisa continue to experience the joy of gardening, while also nurturing their relationships with family and loved ones. Despite now living far from our grandparents, each of us has had special relationships with them, and wanted to find a way to connect with them beyond just day-to-day phone conversations about our activities and their ailments.”

Together Green Stanford Design Challenge

Click to enlarge

Developing Together-Green
“We went through an intensive three month process of interviewing older adults and their families, gathering insights and testing ideas prior to our submission to the Challenge. In total, we had about four very different versions of the idea that we tested.”

Lessons Learned in Designing Together-Green
“Our biggest learning has been the importance of creating with older adults, not for older adults — and working not to project our own wants and needs onto them. For example, we have read a lot about the value of intergenerational relationships, so our original concept paired older adults with children in a local school to develop a relationship and grow plants together. When we tested this idea with older adults, we found they were very disinterested. While the local schools liked the idea, the older adults did not care about creating new friendships with random children; they would rather use the shared plant-growing experience with people they already know — to deepen their existing relationships.”

Future Plans for Together-Green
“If we win the challenge, we plan to work on our product across the next year, in particular building out the ecosystem around it that will make it successful and deliver real value to our customers and their loved ones.”

PicMemory: Mind Finalist in This Year’s Design Challenge

PicMemory SCL Design

PicMemory (Mind)

Team Lead: Hung-Chi Lee
University: National Taiwan University

A mobile app designed to help people with dementia organize their life stories while facilitating family interaction, PicMemory was inspired by Sha Yao’s Eatwell, winner of 2014’s Design Challenge. “I was a Ph.D. student at that time,” explains team lead Hung-Chi Lee, “my research topic also related to people with dementia, so the news about Sha Yao and the competition encouraged me to think about how can I enter the Challenge with my PicMemory project.”

PicMemory was also inspired by Hung-Chi’s grandmother: “She raised me when I was a kid, so she taught me lots of things about life and family, and loves to share many funny things from daily life, or stories of our family from the past. But I found nothing was recorded whenever my grandmother shared her stories. So that is why I designed PicMemory to pick up our family memories. I’d like to help seniors easily share and collect life stories, and enrich feelings of happiness with their family.”

Designing and Prototyping Pic Memory
“The original idea began in 2014, and has been developed over two years. We revised our design four times, including the user interfaces, functions, and operation methods. Up to now, we have created five different prototypes of Pic Memory.”

PicMemory SCL Design 2

Key Takeaway from Designing PicMemory
“I found that seniors love sharing their wisdom and stories from the past with their family, but that there are few opportunities for them to do so in daily life. For this reason, we would like to provide a platform where they can do so, while also collecting family memories for future generations.”

Future Plans for PicMemory
“If we win the Challenge, we would like to release our service to daycare centers and caring organizations. As a next step, we would like to extend our service to all users, so everyone can use PicMemory to collect and share their life stories with their families.”

Sturdy Swivel: Mobility Finalist in This Year’s Design Challenge

Sturdy Swivel Prototype SCL Design Challenge

Sturdy Swivel (Mobility)

Team Lead: Jessica Hsueh
University: University of California at Berkeley

A device which helps the mobility-impaired enter and exit vehicles while in a seated position, the design was inspired by geriatrician Dr. Janice Schwartz and several of her patients. “Travelling by car allows seniors to expand their horizons and stimulate their mind and body,” explains team lead Jessica Hsueh, “through simple tasks like grocery shopping, visiting friends and family, and attending events in their community, and these needs were emphasized as we met and talked to people.”

Developing Sturdy Swivel
“We had three months to perform needs finding, concept generation, and prototype fabrication. We have created three different prototypes so far.”

Design Lessons Learned Creating Sturdy Swivel
“One of the hardest aspects for us was to keep the design as simple and purposeful as possible, so that seniors can focus on the task at hand, instead of getting confused about what to do. For instance, we needed to make sure any buttons and levers were obvious in design and function, with minimal reliance on written instructions.”

Sturdy Swivel SCL Design Challenge

Future Plans for Sturdy Swivel
“I think it would be amazing if our design could be used to make a positive impact in people’s lives. We might try to license or sell the product so that it can be manufactured.”


Echo 1 SCL Design Challenge

Echo (Mobility)

Team Lead: Yee Jek Khaw
University: National University of Singapore

Echo is a wireless, audio wayfinding kit that helps people who’ve recently become visually impaired to develop awareness of their surroundings. This was a challenge lead designer Yee Jek Khaw experienced first-hand in 2012.

“I experienced recurrent episodes of impaired vision due to a severe case of cornea abrasion,” explains Yee. “This unexpected change kept me homebound initially, as I struggled to find a way to go about once familiar-routines, mentally and physically.”

He found further inspiration from Dialogue in the Dark, in which blind guides lead sighted people through darkened locations. Speaking with the sight-impaired seniors who acted as guides, he learned that “most of the problems they faced during the initial period of blindness were often a result of the impaired mobility that vision loss had brought them.” Many had little or no resources to help them during this crucial time, causing some to just give up on living an independent life at all.

“Through these experiences, I was encouraged to delve deeper into the issue that newly visually impaired faced, with wayfinding.”

Developing Echo
“I started on this project about a year ago, with half the time spent on user research and the remaining half spend on prototype iterations and testing. Interaction with the various stakeholders was important at each stage of the design process. Through interviews, observations, and simulation exercises, I was able to narrow down on key areas of unmet needs and opportunities. After that, I worked towards concept generation and evaluation, with user feedback and reviews to improve on the interaction and use processes.

“From this list of ideas, an audio simulation kit was selected and I went through two iterations and quick user testings of prototypes before finalizing on the medium and method of audio projections.”

Echo 2 SCL Design Challenge

Takeaways from Designing Echo
“Changes are inevitable as we grow and age. Changes can become obstacles if we fail to adapt and improvise. Many seniors succumb to these changes because they feel that they are natural processes of ageing which are unavoidable. How can we redesign that process of change?

“In my project, acquiring independent mobility for the newly visually impaired is significant, as it shapes one’s subsequent attitude towards their disability. Narrowing the learning curve and difficulty experienced when dealing with this change goes a long way to improving their quality of life.”

Future Plans for Echo
“There’s interest in developing Echo as a supplement for current mobility rehabilitation training programs, and as a home-based kit for those who need it. I will be glad if I can get more resources to develop Echo for longer trial period needs, so I can further refine its use processes and technical components. There is also opportunity for Echo to be scaled to include other audio cues, including location cues, or timed cues that provide pertinent information when positioned in specific locations.”


POTALK Stanford Longevity Design Challenge


Team Lead: Cindy Tung
University: National Chiao-Tung University (Taiwan)

POTALK is a potted plant with watering system triggered by a microphone, encouraging isolated people to talk with others. Team members from the Biomechanics department and Medical Application Laboratory at the University were encouraged by their adviser, Professor Bing-Shiang Yang, to enter the Challenge. Says Tung, “He often encourages us to think, ‘What do elders need? What do they really want?’”

Inspiration for POTALK
“It began with a debate between two of our team members, Tony and Cindy. One day, Tony mentioned the difficulty he had when chatting with his grandma, since they speak different dialects and have very different backgrounds. Every week when he went home and tried to chat with her, it was very hard to understand each other, to the point where Tony would sometimes give up trying.

“Cindy, however, had a different experience with her own grandma, whom she met only once per year. Like Tony, she had difficulty understanding her at the beginning of their chats. But then the longer and more frequently they chatted, the better she’d understand her grandmother.

“From these conversations and others, the team agreed that the best way to improve communication between generations was to design an object that reminded families not to give up trying.”

Prototyping POTALK
“It took about half a year, and we are now making the third version of POTALK.”

Lessons Learned from designing POTALK
“We think the best design should touch the users’ hearts and make people want to own it, and fit into their existing lifestyle and daily activities. We think that the needs of seniors are actually not so different from the needs of youths: a social life with family or friends, a chance to share their experiences, and mutual consideration for others.”

Future Plans for POTALK
“We will keep improving POTALK, test our prototypes with more users, modify them based on that feedback, and then select a factory to mass produce the final protect. Whether we win the Challenge or not, we’re dedicated to bringing POTALK to the market.”

Dex: Mobility Finalist in This Year’s Design Challenge

DEX Stanford health wearable app

Dex (Mobility)

Team Lead: Elyn Wu (Designer)
University: National University of Singapore

Dex is a fitness system incorporating a smart insole with pressure sensors and a health-monitoring app which monitors a user’s gait and then based on it, recommends game-based exercises. Team lead Elyn Wu was inspired to create Dex by her grandmother, who was recently diagnosed with diabetes and encouraged by her doctors to live a healthier lifestyle.

“However,” says Elyn, “mundane exercises and lack of motivation makes her feel even more reluctant to do exercise. My grandmother is not the only one. More and more people are living sedentary lifestyles with long durations spent sitting down. Therefore, I decided to motivate people to get on their feet and experience the joy of playing games while exercising.”

DEX Stanford health shoe app

Designing and Iterating Dex
“The project started a year ago and went through several stages of development. From initial concept sketches, working with different healthcare professionals to review the idea, prototyping and researching various manufacturing techniques, to user testing it at elderly centers, Dex went through several iterations to optimize and improve its functionality. The product is currently in its third version and hopefully I will be able to develop it further with this Challenge.”

Design Lessons Learned from Dex
“For me, I think the most important thing about design is the ability to empathize with others and utilize the ability to connect knowledge from different disciplines to form possible solutions that suit people’s true wants and needs. Throughout the design process of Dex, I have learnt that there are many seniors who are overwhelmed by the changes they experience as they age. As their physical health takes a toll, these changes slowly nudge them into giving up on being active and living positively each day. From there, I decided to get them up on their feet through my design, and hopefully, be able to change their mindset towards aging independently and positively.”

Future Plans for Dex
“I definitely hope to make Dex a reality so it can reach the right people who need it. If possible, I will also make a developers kit for like-minded individuals to create other interactions in Dex through an open source platform. This will help build a developer community to further enhance Dex while bringing people from different walks of life together.”

Memoir Monopoly


Memoir Monopoly (Mind)

Cho Szu-Yang (Designer)
Cheng Ya-Fang (Designer)
University: National Taiwan University of Science and Technology

A tablet-based rehabilitation game platform for dementia patients, Memoir Monopoly integrates photos from the players’ lives into interactive challenges that exercise their memory and recognition abilities. The team was driven to create the design in order to help the increasing number of elderly dementia patients — especially in Taiwan, where team lead Cho Szu-Yang says products and services for this group are lacking.

Inspiration for Memoir Monopoly
“We met an experienced occupational therapist involved with the long-term care of seniors with dementia, and who wanted to enhance the quality of their rehabilitation activities. We were inspired by his passion. We also collaborated with multidisciplinary professionals including physical therapists, information engineers, and UX designers, all hoping to innovate products and services for the aging of Taiwan, and contribute to understanding the problems they face.”

Time Developing Memoir Monopoly
“We have been working on this project for three years. We adapted the research-through-design paradigm and user-experience innovative design process to develop the Memoir Monopoly project. We went through three iterations of UXD and UXT, revising design details for a better user experience:

“First, working with an occupational therapist, we visited daycare centers and observed seniors’ current reminiscing activities as led by caregivers. We conducted user experience research (UXR) of current tools used by the senior dementia patients in rehabilitation activities to reveal user needs in interactive reminiscing games.

“Second, we conducted user experience design (UXD) based on our UXR findings. We worked with software engineers to build multiple working prototypes and held discussions with caregivers and therapists.

We made more than four prototypes, and used feedback that we received from the users to refine our iterative design, resulting in the development of a highly flexible reminiscing rehabilitation computer game called Memoir Monopoly, which allows users to upload personal photos and preferences into a customizable game map for use with applicable materials based on personal experiences.”

“Third, we conducted user experience testing (UXT) to examine the final working prototype. Memoir Monopoly was successfully applied in field tests with 30 rehabilitation groups at daycare centers. Based on observation and post-interviews with the therapists and caregivers, we found that the senior dementia patients who participated in the activity were more willing to share their stories through their own photos and movies. They also showed more interest in playing the reminiscing games on Memoir Monopoly than playing previous paper-based games.

“The results of this preliminary research demonstrate that our design resolved problems found in the UXR. Now, we are bringing our service into six daycare centers in Taiwan, hoping to bring our design and services to more seniors.”

Memoir Monopoly 2 SCL Design Challenge

Key Takeaways Learned While Developing Memoir Monopoly
“Our user experience research (UXR) of current tools used by the senior dementia patients in rehabilitation activities revealed several user needs for creating interactive reminiscing games:

“Sequence activities: The game should be clearly structured into a sequence of warmup, physical orientation, main activities, and review. That way, seniors know what they are doing at every step, which minimizes confusion.

“Create complementary activities with suitable goals: Reminiscing, sensory stimulation, cognitive training, reality orientation, and activities with suitable goals all provide joyfulness and achievement, while also reducing problem behaviors.

“Integrate personal experiences of players: Most of the existing reminiscing games do not directly link to the seniors’ personal memories. When an elderly person looks at memory cards, it is hard for them to share stories, as there is not enough personal experience to stimulate their memory. It is also difficult for the caregiver to facilitate reminiscing activities and keep everybody interested in the game.

Consequently, we created a senior-friendly interface, with information on the UI
displayed step by step, so the group of players can focus on one goal at a time. The interaction design is simple and intuitive, using easy gesture to interact with the game, so seniors are able to play by themselves — enhancing their willingness to play.

“Avoid lack of interactivity: Senior participants find it difficult to follow the instructions because the tools are not intuitive enough. They are often confused about which game piece belongs to them, where they should place the piece, and which stage they are at in the game. These kinds of problems are frustrating and may interrupt the activity, and seniors may even quit. Therefore, it is also difficult for the caregiver to lead participants in reminiscing activities. This is why Memoir Monopoly provides sounds and visual instruction to encourage and give feedback to seniors, giving them a sense of accomplishment and achievement during the game.

“Make games customizable: It is difficult for game leaders to prepare suitable and different level of difficulties materials that are suitable to the participants’ condition. In Memoir Monopoly, game leaders can easily create a customized game based around different difficulty levels and rehab goals of the seniors through personal photos, music, videos, and question cards.”

Future Plans for Memoir Monopoly
“We plan to expand our platform to include an app, more customized games, and a database of memoirs. We also hope to keep on bringing our service into day care centers, households, and beyond. Occupational therapists can visit elderly individuals and collect personal experience with their families, such as photos, videos, and songs, then use Memoir Monopoly to create customized rehab activities. These professionals can record the family’s reaction and give useful feedback to family members, such as interacting skills and rehab activities which can be carried out in their daily lives.

“Memoir Monopoly has been successfully brought into 40 group rehab events in six day care centers, played by up to 200 attendees, and is now a regular service in several day care centers. From this, we learned that our game was not only a memory tool, but had become a new kind of activity for the elderly. They enjoy Memoir Monopoly with groups of friends, gathering together to play and share stories with each other, building trust and bonds within the group, further enhancing their social relationships and satisfaction in life.”

Bath Chair


Bath Chair (Mobility)

Tzu-Ping “Dawn” Hsu
University: National Yunlin University of Science and Technology (Taiwan)

Bath Chair is a portable bath designed to help the mobility-impaired safely wash themselves while remaining in a seated position. “My grandfather always sits on a chair to take a shower, which gave me the idea,” says Tzu-Ping Hsu, explaining the inspiration for her Bath Chair design. “I wanted to do something for seniors, so I entered the Challenge.”

Time Spent Developing Bath Chair
“A year. After endless trials, I created about four versions before deciding on the final design. This Bath Chair is my final year project at the University.”


Lessons Learned Designing Bath Chair

 “Bathing seems to be a simple thing in daily life for most of us, but for those seniors with declining physical function, things are not as simple as we suppose. We should be more concerned about the needs and life quality of seniors.”

Future Plans for Bath Chair

“Continue improving the Bath Chair. Hopefully, I can someday make it real, so it can benefit seniors and help improve their quality of life.”