“They say…we’re all dying…”

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The lyric  “they say..we are all dying” (2:05) from the performance of Typhoon at NPR Music Tiny SXSW Concert feels perfectly appropriate for my long overdue re-entry post, but it also seems rather inappropriate for a site dedicated to the positive aspects of the aging experience.

But perhaps there is inspiration in seeking balance between the fact of mortality with the art of daily life, especially when the amazing young creative force behind Typhoon himself faced a young death.

The radio program from which I learned of Typhoon describes this album as having sad, dire lyrics wrapped in massively joyful music. Well, this balance of extremes is a new lens from which to explore the aging experience.

More to come

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Connecting older adults and caregivers online.

In a November 16, 2011 Fast Company article by Francine Hardaway, WeSprout was listed as one of 12 healthcare start-ups to watch because WeSprout launched Kinsights.com a website to crowdsource children’s health information to the community of parents. Parent to Parent advice sharing happens already informally so why not codify and monetize it to a web platform? It reminds me of Healthtap.com, which crowdsources answers from thousands of trusted physicians to answer submitted medical questions. Both of these remind me of an listserv I used to follow from from Family Caregivers Alliance. The family caregivers in this forum expressed their lonely desperation and stress, shared inspiration and offered solutions and information. The old user interface of the listserv limited the interaction to a string of linear conversations but the value of connecting and communicating with others in a similar situation was evident.

What would the next generation online experience look like that connected informal caregivers, older adults and their eco-system of care?

Video Tryptych: GoodDesignAgeWell Summarized

A triptych is a work of art divided into three sections. The central panel is typically the most important one, and is usually flanked on either side by two lesser but related pieces. The order of these three video segments deviates from the standard triptych form because all three segments are equal in importance. This video triptych was made with You3b.com which allows three Youtube videos to be watched simultaneously.

Some may think multiple videos is distracting, but the hope is the longer you watch the triptych the more you will become immersed in the multiple video messages centered around a common theme. The multiple videos lets one abstract to higher levels of thinking about the topic, which is a whole new element that wouldn’t happen if the videos were viewed individually or even sequentially. The whole is intended to be greater than the sum of its parts.

1: Microsoft Vision of Healthcare.  2. Dove Commercial.  3. Playing the Wii

(Clicking the image will open a new browser window at You3b.com. Be sure to have your sound on. It is a continuous loop. Complete one cycle of the soundtrack for a complete experience.)

Good Design Needs a Good Soundtrack

“All of these lines across my face

Tell you the story of who I am

So many stories of where I’ve been

And how I got to where I am”

Good design, no matter what kind of artist you are, (I use Seth Godin’s definition of artist) can find inspiration in music.  Brandi Carlile’s song, The Story, is my recommendation for a dose of inspiration because it honors the passage of time


What musician or song inspires you? What is the story of your wrinkles?

Courtyard by Marriot Redesigned Around Customer

Mark Hurst of Good Experience interviewed Brian King, VP & global brand manager of Courtyard by Marriott to understand the process and goals of the redesign of the hotel lobby around their target customer segment, the frequent business traveler. This project is a recommended case study and a call to action for senior living communities and facilities to listen to current and prospective residents in order to meet their evolving physical and emotional needs. The full interview is a must read and can be found here.

It was interesting to learn “…the laptop is the center of the business traveler’s life and should be the center of the design innovation.”  What is at the center of your customer’s life?  Is it an object or a lifestyle; a variety of social events, opportunities to be active, a mix of private and public space, or a support network of heathcare options? Find what is most important to your target market and use that as the guide for ongoing innovation. Some of the other key learning points of the redesign of Courtyard hotels that could be applied to senior living communities are:

  • Flexible, movable furniture to customize how the public space is used from a communal table to private quiet areas.
  • A physical environment and service options that is under each persons control and offers a high level of choice; a variety of food options and highly flexible meal time schedule.
  • A lobby that is a destination as opposed to being a mediocre pass through to secluded rooms.
Dedicated technology stations. Modular furniture for a flexible public space. Modernized bulletin board for pertinent information.
Additional information can be found at IDEO, the innovation firm that was part of the redesign. Images from IDEO.com

If you won’t be traveling to one of the refreshed Courtyard properties any time soon get a feel of the new environment with this commercial.

There are many  examples of well designed lifestage communities and facilities across the continuum of care but they are far outnumbered by the quantity of poorly designed facilities that are not prepared to meet the lifestyle needs of a new generation of adults seeking innovative housing and care options.

If you really listen to your current and prospective residents what small and large scale innovations can you implement that will transform their experience?

Your Product Personified

I met Antonella, Ashley and Natasha via a New York Times article, Before Creating the Car, Ford Designs the Driver, by Phil Patton. “Antonella is an attractive 28-year old woman who lives in Rome. Her life is focused on friends and fun, clubbing and parties. Natasha is a “a tech-savvy “social achiever”” and Ashley  is “a cool mom.”

These people don’t actually exist. They are imaginary characters created by Ford Motor Company to capture the personality of intended customers of specific car models. These colorful avatars bring to life piles of statistical research and demographic data to create a shared image for everyone working to create the next hit for Ford. I find this approach is very valuable in articulating and relating to the nuanced, multifaceted demographic data of the over 40 consumer.

Age Well Character

I was inspired to define an ideal composite character for GoodDesignAgeWell.  I chose Ashley as the core character because she is described, according to Ford’s internal research documents, as a mom “who, like the vehicle, represents an update of traditional family priorities. She shops at T. J. Maxx, H&M and Target  and“friends are part of her family.””  The concept van also fits the vision of a family vehicle that is designed well and integrates lo-tech and hi-tech concepts that make daily life better;  built-in hand sanitizer and sunscreen dispensers, storage hooks to transport scooters and strollers, large underfloor storage, constant Web access, and an RFID electronic tagging system to track, via the onboard computer, important items you don’t want to forget or lose.

In addition to Ashely,  I see GoodDesignAgeWell is more than a single character, it is a family of personalities.  Building upon the Ford research I believe Ashley’s family shares similar values and attributes across multiple generations and most notably, family members are also friends.

multigenerational family

I also put greater importance on the role Ashley plays as the family medical manager and wellness coach.  Her focus on safety and wellness is illustrated well with the photo of the concept van with Harry Allen’s International Design Magazine (I.D.) 2009 packaging award winning first aid kit for Johnson & Johnson. Available at Target.com for $18.49

Ford First Aid Kit

Other Key Points on the Value of a Persona:

•    Personalizes the ideal buyer
•    Articulates common values and attitudes across boundaries of nation and language
•    Equally effective for concepts and for products in production
•    Importance of pleasure and preference in buying choices vs. older, rational models of buyer behavior based simply on price or other hard factors.
•    Design is critical
•    “We now focus quite a bit on aspirations and dreams.”

WHAT CHARACTER PROFILE IS PERFECT FOR YOUR PRODUCT?

Games for Health Competition

Humana, one of the nation’s largest health benefits companies, sponsors Humana Games for Health (HG4H), to understand how video games can be used to encourage people to have a more active and healthier lifestyle.

HG4H is launching the InsertCoin competition on June 11, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. EDT.  It will conclude at 5:00 p.m. EDT on September 9, 2009.  The competition is for new game concepts that are innovative and entertaining enough to motivate kids, families and seniors to be more active or encourage them to make healthy decisions.

If your idea is selected, you could win a cash prize and have the opportunity to commercialize your ideas. Winners will be announced and posted online at http://www.HumanaGames.com in mid to late November of 2009.

While exploring HG4H be sure to watch the HG4H video for a dose of inspiration:

HG4H
“The judging panel will be looking for game concepts that are fun for kids, families, seniors – or all three! What we are not looking for are the traditional food, fitness and disease management games.  Since we want people to actually want to play these games, your game idea(s) need to be fun!  In addition to being fun, your game idea(s) must have some sort of health benefit – whether it’s motivating people to move, or just encouraging them to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families.”
The game idea(s):

•    will be judged in 3 competitive categories; Kids, Families, Seniors (65+)
•    can be for single or multi-player games
•    can be played on a video game console, PC/Mac,  mobile device
•    can incorporate accessories, such as GPS, acceleromter, gyroscope, etc.
•    can be used in with fitness gear, like bikes, running shoes, or skateboards
•    can not use technology at all

$10,00 will be awarded as follows:
•    $5,000 – 1st Place Prize
•    $3,000 – 2nd Place Prize
•    $2,000 – 3rd Place Prize

Download official rules here.

During our travels, online and offline, we encountered two games that might be contenders; and will hopefully enhance any user-insight game development sessions.

Memic, A Game of Dance

Stanford University – Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school), offered a two-quarter interdisciplinary course, Design for Agile Aging, in Winter/Spring of 2008 to bring perspectives from Computer Science, Design, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Medicine to develop projects that address the potential of people to maintain vitality and mobility as they age. The projects found innovative ways to integrate computer and device technologies with behavioral and social interventions.

The Spring quarter final project was Memic, a 2-way TV intergenerational dancing experience that creates social connectedness, encourages physical activity and feels more like fun than exercise.  The video explains it well.

memic - dance, play, connect

memic - dance, play, connect

The available presentation explains the concept in detail and offers more insights that pertain to the intersection of fun, physical movement and technology.  We thought the following key points offer ideas on how other existing health technology devices can offer a more attractive experience to the consumer.

  • More people responded to “Dance” than “Exercise”
  • With family = more fun + more motivation
  • Children give (adults) permission to do silly things
  • Intergenerational, coaching dynamic


Bounce, A Common Experience Game

Bounce Telephone Game

Bounce, A Common Experience Game is another game to be played by members of different generations. Ken Goldberg, Irene Chien, Jane McGonigal, and Greg Niemeyer developed Bounce for an expo in San Jose, CA for ISEA in 2006. The game is a tool to engage people of different ages in conversation. During a web-supported phone conversation, the game prepares questions that one young person and an older person answer together. This way, they discover a number of things that they have in common, and perhaps some things that set them apart.

Continue the Conversation…and Bring Your Best Game!