The University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology, in California, United States, runs an annual universal design competition. The goal of the competition is to design “products and spaces to better serve individuals of all abilities.”
The competition fosters use of the principles of universal design. This means designing items and locations that enable people to live independently and age in place. Students were judged on the design of their products from the perspective of being able to be used by all people, regardless of their age or ability.
The first-place winner came up the idea of a wand-like ergonomic device to replace a computer mouse, for users with arthritis. The device can be held in a comfortable, loose-fist position. The click button and trackpad are also within easy reach for people with limited hand dexterity. The industrial design student was inspired by his own computer-focused professional life and the knowledge that workers who are older have a greater chance of having arthritis.
The second-place winner created a bathroom design “that included an expanded floorplan; a lowered medicine cabinet; a sink with knee space underneath to accommodate a seated user; a walk-in bathtub; and a roll-in shower complete with foldable seat, adjustable height shower, opaque glass door that allows for privacy, and lever bath controls.”
Honorable mention projects included a laundry machine design that automatically moves heavy, wet clothes from the washing machine to the dryer, uses pictorial and audio instructions with a touch screen, and lets you know when the wash is ready using lights and a melody.
To learn more about the contest and winners, visit the website here.