The Enabled by Design-athon: Empathy Projects

In last week’s blog post we outlined the projects that were influenced by ‘Whose Life’ activities as a starting point. […]

In last week’s blog post we outlined the projects that were influenced by ‘Whose Life’ activities as a starting point. In this blog post, the final piece of the ‘Enabled by Design-athon: Share‘ chapter, we explore the project briefs and prototypes that were inspired by ‘Empathy’ activities carried out by teams. 

Empathy tools, which impaired dexterity, mobility, vision and hearing, were given to teams to help them experience tasks with the needs of different users. Using them helped to prompt an empathic understanding for people who might be affected including older people and those with disabilities, while also challenging any preconceptions. Teams were then introduced to someone from the Enabled by Design community that had experiences to share relating to the assigned challenge.

“We are all human… In the next 24 hours, it’s our job to empathise”  Tom Hulme, IDEO

The descriptions and briefs of the resulting projects are outlined below:

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Playsettings

The brief: Playful crockery for dextrous dining

This team were given the task of better understanding the constraints around physical dexterity. They recognised the frustrations and emotional lows as they tried to carry out a simple yet fiddly task. It was almost as frustrating to watch as it was to be a part of the experience.

The solution: bring communal enjoyment to eating with playful crockery that can be used by all.

For more information visit the Playsettings website: playsettings.org, or to purchase the first version of the Upside-Down Teacup on Ponoko! http://www.ponoko.com/showroom/Playsettings

Photo: Playsettings

View the team’s presentation below:

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Crutch it better

The brief: Open source crutch accessories

This team were given the task of better understanding mobility issues and challenges when using crutches. They recognised the hands-free frustrations that are connected with their use and looked to enable the user with modular additions for crutches including a mobile phone holder and GPS system.

The solution: open source crutch additions that can be personalised for the desires and needs of the user.

Photo: FutureGov @FutureGov

View the team’s presentation below:

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Scout

The brief: Designing for the awkwardness of asking for and offering help

The Scout team were supplied with a set of Cambridge simulation glasses to help them understand how visual acuity loss affects real world tasks and to help them empathise with those experiencing visual impairment. They were also introduced to Gary, an accessibility specialist at RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) who is also blind.

The solution: an app that facilitates random acts of kindness.

Photo: FutureGov @FutureGov

View the team’s presentation below:

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Hide & Seek

The brief: Superhuman people finding

Hide & Seek were also given the task of understanding the issues and challenges associated with visual impairment. The team adopted cutting edge digital technology to design a system that alerts its user of the location of a friend they are  looking for.

The solution: a system of arduinos, sensors and vibrating components, mounted on a pair of glasses, whose signal increases the closer you are to the person you’re looking for.

Photo: FutureGov @FutureGov

View the team’s presentation below:

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Superaid

The brief: Customised accessories for digital hearing aids

The team started by building empathy for people with hearing difficulties. They were inspired by team member Alison’s own experiences of digital hearing aid use. They identified the main issue being that they cannot be customised in colour or style and realised that there is an opportunity to use digital fabrication to change this.

The solution: a range of clip-on customised accessories for digital hearing aids.

Check out Daniel Townsend’s blog writeup of the ‘Superaid’ experience here

Photo: Daniel Townsend @danieltownsend

View the team’s presentation below:

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Free Hand

The brief: Explore the challenge of doing activities hands-free

The team were given the task of better understanding the constraints of doing activities hands-free. Their inspiration was film maker Paul who was born without lower limbs and has limited use of his arms. They looked to design a gadget to allow hands-free photography with their main focus being desirability and design for all.

The solution: Free Hand, a wearable tripod.

Photo: Free Hand Presentation

View the team’s presentation below:

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We’ve thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the Enabled by Design-athon and we hope that you have too! Watch this space in the New Year for a short film, kindly made for us by event partner IDEO, which we think captures the Enabled by Design-athon rather nicely.

Until next time…

Team EbD