Loughborough University regularly partners with the United Nations and Hong Kong University to run design hackathons involving pairing student teams with clients from HKU who are trying to start startups and gain investments. The client I worked with was trying to enable and encourage the elderly population in China to socialise and exercise to keep their physical and mental health up.
This is due to various reasons including spousal and familial separation, geographical and communicative distancing from old friends, and fewer and fewer services catering to them. This is leading to loneliness and mental health issues.
Due to family members working, there generally isn’t anyone to stay at home to take care of the older generation, meaning that their physical health and wellbeing is suffering. This is compounded by the fact that it is hard to find safe areas to exercise properly, leading to injury.
These issues, along with the overall loss of independence leads to depression among older people, which tends to go unchecked for the same reasons that it was caused, leading to a vicious cycle.
According to several studies, people with Alzheimer's waste a lot of food due to the food expiring while the owner has forgotten about it.
Not chosen due to somewhat low impact relative to other options, as well as lack of personal interest or excitement about the problem.
Cognitive testing for progression tracking can be a daunting, stressful experience for the patient as they can see themselves declining, or not being able to express their thoughts. This can also be worrying or saddening for the family members if they're present.
Some good aspects, and an interesting challenge, but the chance of being able to solve well with the time and resources available is low.
THE STARTING POINT
Discussions with the client team allowed us to agree upon a set of deliverables that were realistic, impactful, and suited to the available skillsets.
The clients had already undertaken a lot of research, and though it was geared towards determining business viability, it proved to be a highly valuable resource that had answers for most questions that we had.
In the given timeframe, it seemed best to rely on that for most things and do just enough extra research to answer any important questions that we had that weren't covered in their documents.
Users should have a safe, secure place that allows them to meet their unfulfilled physical and mental wellbeing needs. This service will span from core healthcare tracking and maintenance to physical exercise, activity, and play to social and mental stimulation through meeting people, making friends, receiving counceling, and challenging their brains. The user should be put on an efficient path to achieving their own personal self actualisation goals.
The service should be tailored to the individual, while still allowing them to feel part of the collective group. Activites should deliver a social experience with a personal touch. Partaking in any one of the services should feel effortless, and should be eagerly anticipated by the user. Supporting maintenance sessions (such as health tracking) should be efficient and their benefits should be transparent, and where possible, opt-in.
For this particular service to be effective, multiple stages of the experience had to not only work well, but also synergise and fit together.
For this reason, I decided that rather than immediately focusing on one part of the journey, it would be best to start by exploring the full lifecycle to really get into the mindset of designing the system rather than just the app.
We were fortunate enough to win not one but two first place awards for this project. We won the first place award for best client relationship, and the client team in Hong Kong won best project award.