The challenge 

How might we create an innovative solution to address the well-being of the aging population which is on the rise?

The process

For the project, we used the double diamond design process – with a greater focus on the second diamond. We were asked to identify one physical space to target and create an innovative solution within that space.

In the initial stages of our research we conducted secondary research from online resources – focusing on the elder population, millennials and technology trends, as well as primary research which included one-to-one interviews. We wanted to create something of greater impact, as the issue of ageing population is constantly increasing. As a result, the team decided to target the future millennial elders. The initial interviews aimed to understand the lives of both the current elderly people and the life of millennials, along with everyday pain-points, concerns and lifestyle trends.  This helped us set up a blended customer journey.

A simplified version of the Customer Journey map

Main insights

The most relevant millennial trends we discovered through our research and incorporated in our final solution that would address the well-being of the aging population include:

73% of millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable products.

80% of millennials believe that healthy eating is key to longevity and wellness. 

87% of millennials believe that companies should address urgent environmental issues.

As the area they spend most of the time in a day was the kitchen for both, we found it interesting to focus on how to innovate and make improvements in this space. Part of the research included the fridge as an area of exploration. We realised that there is a big energy loss, especially when it comes to thermal energy and we decided that part of the solution would address this core issue.  

Personas and empathy maps allowed us to better understand our target market. We used lean management tools to help us reduce waste. For example, spaghetti diagrams allowed us to decrease movement. We also used lean management for inspiration of elements that could be an advantage to our product. For example, Kanban cards could be converted into a feature that would signal the user when specific items or quantities are running low.

As our target market was a sustainability-focused, older individual, we needed to incorporate sustainable and also ergonomic solutions that would address the needs of elders. We went through long ideation sessions and came up with ideas that would address all different areas of the kitchen – considering energy efficiency and indoor production, minimising waste, storage, preparation and cleaning. 

The objective

The objective of this project was to create a solution that combines innovation, efficiency and comfort to address the well-being of the aging population. A solution that is ergonomic and sustainable at its core.

Final proposal

Focusing on a futuristic fridge, we started applying and adding elements to the fridge that would make it more sustainable and ergonomic. Below, you can see our prototype designed on Tinkercad, which was a really interesting tool to use. Elements we applied included rounded shape corners for safety, cloud connection, transparent glass and independent shelves to decrease energy consumption as well as individual temperature stimulators for every shelf. On the other side of the fridge, indoor production shelves would be used for growing herbs and vegetables that would utilize the wasted heat energy of the fridge, as well as the defrosting of ice for plant growth.

We used a 3D Printer to create the base and central engine of our fridge and a laser-cutter to create the shelves of the fridge. Indeed, the most rewarding part of the process was seeing our project coming to life.

My role

This project required thorough secondary research, for which I was the responsible researcher. From technological advancements to sustainable and reusable energy trends in technology, the research required advanced knowledge – which we needed to explore and understand in order to apply them to our projects. In addition to that, we required research on issues that elders face – from current kitchen structures and ergonomic kitchen trends to the efficient space usage of decreased indoor floor size in properties. 

In addition to that, I was involved in the process of designing the fridge on Tinkercad and using the 3D printer and laser-cutter to bring the model to life. This process required accuracy in measurements to create a well-designed prototype, as well as choosing the right materials to use for each machine. 

Additional information

Team-work was essential at all stages of the project to coordinate our work and have superb results, and we organised weekly feedback sessions to check on everyone’s work and recommend improvements.

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