#HacktheHome heads to Halifax

Last month Enabled by Design and sister organisation FutureGov joined forces to run a one-day version of the original Enabled by […]

Last month Enabled by Design and sister organisation FutureGov joined forces to run a one-day version of the original Enabled by Design-athon with Calderdale Council in Halifax. The event, called #HacktheHome, took place on 17th September 2014 at the beautiful Dean Clough Mills.

Inspired by the Enabled by Design-athon approach, the #HacktheHome event helped us to:

  • spread the word about our passion for Design for All (but ultimately good design)
  • explore how new technologies, materials and ways of working might support people to live as independently as possible
  • use rough and ready prototyping to develop and share ideas for accessible design quickly and easily
  • raise awareness of the importance of speaking to real people (our design partners) about their experiences and needs

To get the day started and everyone in the room geared up for the #HacktheHome challenge, we were lucky enough to be joined by some fantastic speakers:

  • Merran McRae, Chief Executive of Calderdale Council, on her love of 3D printing & how new ways of working could help to transform social care
  • Denise Stephens, Founder of Enabled by Design, on her experiences after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), her interest in Design for All and how this lead to Enabled by Design and Enabled by Design-athon events
  • Rachel Russell, Occupational Therapist (OT) for Calderdale Council, on occupational therapy and how the profession should embrace good design and change
  • Raymond Holt, Lecturer in Product Design at the University of Leeds, on prototyping and developing inclusive games for children with disabilities and their friends

Next up, the focus moved to our awesome design partners: Gary, David, John, Richard and Lis who shared their experiences of disability and their independent living challenges.

You can watch the short film that we made to introduce each of our design partners here:

Following a quick team exercise that involved building the tallest structure possible out of spaghetti and marshmallows (I’ve never heard quite so much shrieking and cheering in all my life ; ) each team settled down to get to know their design partner better and work together to prototype a product, system, service or technology that was accessible, desirable and easy-to-use.

On hand was the Innovation Station run by Radius Creative‘s Mike Wilshaw and the University of Leeds‘ Raymond Holt, to offer advice on prototyping and showcase 3D printing with the MakerBot Replicator 2 and Microsoft Kinect.

After a productive afternoon of prototyping with corrugated cardboard, glue guns, foam and much more, our panel of judges were hugely impressed by the standard of the five projects presented at the Show and Tell finale. These included:

  • iDrobe – colour co-ordinated clothing storage and dressing system inspired by design partner Gary who has Alzheimers <= Winning project
  • Kitchen Friend – fold down perching stool that’s mounted on and can move along a rail fitted to kitchen units/worktop inspired by design partner Richard who has MS
  • Helping hand – rail that moves along staircase to allow someone to hold on to for balance and carry items while going up and down stairs inspired by David who has MS
  • Garden Ease – accessible gardening system incorporating revolving raised beds, easy grip tools & storage inspired by John who is a wheelchair user and visually impaired <= Highly commended project
  • Pimp my perching stool – voice activated perching stool and I’ve got your back – adjustable back support/robo corset both inspired by Richard who has MS and his partner Lis

It was a close call and the judges were split between their two favourite projects, but after much discussion the winning project was agreed and announced as iDrobe with Garden Ease being highly commended. So big congrats to the winning team who were awarded 3D printed trophies in recognition of their outstanding idea!

Interested in finding out more? You can check out the full #HacktheHome story on Storify here.

We had a fantastic day and it was great to have the opportunity to work with like-minded organisations: Calderdale Council, the University of Leeds and Radius Creative, our design partners and everybody who got involved. Without each and every one of you, this event really wouldn’t have been possible, so thank you!!!

Team EbD