Design Challenge: Technology to Maintain Senior Health

Andy Kim  (MBA, Ross School of Business)

Shannon Watt  (MBA, Ross School of Business)

Liyang Liu  (MS, Industrial and Operations Engineering)

Yun Hsiao  (MSI, School of Information)  

Yiyi Gao  (BFA, Stamps School of Art and Design)

Project Overview 

Advances in health-related technologies have led to an increase in life expectancy in developed countries.Social and health care provider institutions face increasing pressure to meet the health needs presented by the large numbers of people in this status.


Designed for the growing population of aging adults (65+), our product will incorporate technology in an intuitive way to enable users to remain healthy, active, and independent. 

Primary Research

Our group conducted primary research through:

  • Observed and interviewed residents at Atria Park senior living community

  • Attended weekly Bingo events at senior communities to volunteer and observe

  • Interviewed our own grandparents

Secondary Research 

We want to know our consumers by identifying the key Problem areas:

  • Mobility

  • Dexterity

  • Social Engagement

  • Hearing

  • Vision

  • Safety

  • Cognition


Our secondary research also shows:

  • On average, technology usage decreases as age increases

  • Seniors prefer products that target a specific need

Ideation Process

Concept Ideation

Problem A:

  • Many seniors take multiple medicines every day

  • Taking pills can be difficult with trembling hands

  • Often forget to take medicine at the right time


Existing Products:

  • Traditional pill organizer with alarms

  • High-end smart medicine dispenser


Product Concept A:

  • Medicine Dispenser and reminder

Problem B:

  • Many seniors do not meet exercise guidelines

  • Can’t go outside very often, because they fear  falling or due to limited mobility or mental capability


Existing Products:

  • Expensive cycling chairs for seniors

  • Any regular chair at home (for chair yoga and other exercises)

Product Concept B:

  • Add-on exercisers


  • Standalone pedal device

Problem C:

  • Many seniors encounter difficulty when wearing shoes that require them to reach down to tie laces

  • Loose shoelaces can increase likelihood of falls


Existing Products:

  • Shoes with simple strap bands

  • Nike’s self-lacing technology


Our Product C:

  • Heel-clicking shoes

Problem D:

  • Many seniors do not know how to do certain exercises properly


Existing Products:

  • Regular exercise mat

  • High-priced, smart yoga mat with embedded LEDs and pressure sensors


Product Concept D:

  • Interactive exercising mat for people with minimum technology comfortability

Problem E:

  • Many seniors have trouble sitting up from a laying down position

  • Many seniors reported morning dizziness


Existing Products:

  • Adjustable bed

  • Inflatable lifts for emergency purposes


Our Product E:

  • An inflatable device that can be used to assist rising from bed


  • Adjustable air-pressure mattress

Final Idea: Inflatable Riser

Created as a low-cost alternative to adjustable hospital beds and mattress, the Inflatable Riser targets senior adults and individuals dealing with daily back pain.


It facilitates rising movement when the user tries to get out of bed, assisting the individual to transition from laying flat to a sitting position. With one click from the controller, the riser can be inflated and deflated easily. 


Design Development

Prototype Details

Through conducting conjoint analysis, we chose the following features to include in the final prototype:

- Body alignment sensor ensuring the riser would only inflate while the user is lying on the center

- An additional cover on the riser that can be replaced and washed

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