Stanford longevity center picks Design Challenge winners

design-challenge_words The Stanford Center on Longevity last week chose students NICHOLAS STEIGMANN and MAIYA JENSEN from the California College of the Arts and their project, SPAN, as the winner of the second annual Design Challenge.

The contest aims to encourage students to design products and services to improve the lives of older adults. This year, the Design Challenge focused on ways to motivate and empower mobility among older adults in their daily lives, both inside their homes and out in their communities.

The finalists were announced April 9, at an all-day event that included a judging panel, expert speeches and presentations. Overall, the Design Challenge, which kicked off last September, drew submissions from 42 student teams representing 31 universities and 11 countries.

“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, the director of mobility at the Center on Longevity.

SPAN, the winning project, is a portable tripod-like device with handles at different heights to help a person get up from, or down to, the floor. According to the Steigmann and Jensen, it addresses the fear and functional limitations that many seniors have, and allows them to build confidence to engage fully in their lives again. The team was awarded a $10,000 cash prize.

“These young inventors 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,” said TERESA DO, a senior manager at LG Electronics and a panelist during the Design Challenge finals.

Prizes were also awarded to HandleBar, which won second place and $5,000 for a stair railing device; Luna Lights, a sensor-based automated lighting system that garnered third place and $2,000; and Flipod, an assistive bed rotation device for non-ambulatory individuals, which took the 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 $5,000 and the opportunity for its developers to travel to Dalian, China, in September and present at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2015.

The Design Challenge was held in collaboration with Aging 2.0, a global network of entrepreneurs, technologists, designers, investors, long-term care providers and seniors.