The success of an innovative design app competition, organised through the Bath Centre for Pain Research, is cited in a recent Parliamentary Report on advances into assistive technology that could help the elderly and people living with disabilities.
Countering the rise in chronic conditions, coupled with the push towards greater independent living for these groups, researchers from the University of Bath's Department for Health and Bath Research & Development launched the ‘ifOnly’ crowdsourcing app to encourage these populations to share the everyday problems they face.
Through the app, users recorded, uploaded and posted videos to demonstrate a variety of challenges experienced; from opening cans to making a cup of tea. Under the premise of ‘if only I could…’ the competition set out to bring together a user community with new designers each challenged to come up with innovative solutions.
Over the course of the project, over 100 ‘ifOnly’ videos were uploaded charting a variety of challenges and attracting over 22,000 views via YouTube. In tandem, a community of interest grew via an ifOnly webpage displaying films and providing a forum for potential design collaborators.
As part of the competition, designs were considered by a panel of stakeholders including representatives from the NHS, social care, creative industries and the third sector as well as members of the public.
The overall winner of the competition, announced in May, was student Simon Lyons of Loughborough University whose design found a simple cutting tool to help elderly people open packets, jars and bottles without the risk of injury.