Design for Changing Lives – 5 Ways Product Design is Literally Changing Lives

Our design for life series was inspired by a hashtag we love to use (#designforlife), as we feel it really encapsulates the reason behind a fair few of the innovations, which we like to share with you from the wider world of product design, which are often particularly life enhancing.

When we recently ran our feature on the life cycle of a product, we really got to thinking about what the term ‘design for life’ might mean to us, or to others, so we thought we’d explore it a little further.

When we, at Conficio HQ, throw around the term ‘design for life’ we are oftentimes referring to how cradle to grave product design works, how products can be created in a more sustainable manner, not only in terms of how each product is created, but also how each product will affect our surroundings once it is out there in action.

Photo: Ross Findon on Unsplash

Other times when we throw in the ‘design for life’ hashtag, it is to make some noise about a design that has quite literally been life changing for people. From robotic limbs to skylight’s which double as a water purifier in countries that cannot easily access clean water.

The sort of product design we really love seeing is the sort of design that truly changes lives – design that matters, that is not a ‘nice to have’, but is a necessity. We’re talking about design that really helps us to live and learn.

5 Designs That Restore Lives

Here are our 5 top designs that are truly helping people live their lives more normally:

Syrinx Voice Box

Take for example, this wearable voice box named Syrinx, national winner of the James Dyson Award for Japan in 2020. The device uses artificial intelligence, coupled with double the usual capacity of a voice box, to record the vibrations made by the vocal cords when air passes from the lungs, which generates the sound. This has taken the original concept of a voice box and used advanced technology to make the device far more personal to the user, easier to use and a far closer match to their original voice, reducing the robotic sound usually associated with this sort of device.

Photo: Syrinx via Dezeen

Exoskeleton

Alex Labs are using hydrogen to mimic muscle movement, which provides a quieter and simpler experience than its compressed air counterparts and is capable of lifting up to 33lbs (15kg).

The aim of these suits is to help support where manual lifting and impact can be caused, such as construction site workers, but also can be used to help those struggling with limited muscle capacity – what a game changer for so many demographics!

Photo: Alex Lab/You Tube via Interesting Engineering

Model F Concept Wheelchair

This contemporary take on the wheelchair from WHILL gives a significant amount of flexibility in how the wheelchair is used by the user. Not only can the user select the desired speed, but the seat and armrest positions are fully adjustable for comfort, and the seat can even be swiveled to the side, so the user can use the wheelchair as a seat. Versatile, stylish and forward thinking – what a great evolution of a much needed product, to really help make lives better.

Photo: WHILL via Behance

Lego Prosthetic Arm

David Aguilar has been building himself prosthetic arms from Lego since the age of 9 years old. David aims to design affordable limbs for people who need them. Whilst the parents among us may think Lego can be costly, a Lego prosthetic could stand to come in far cheaper than the going rate of $4,000 – $10,000, according to the Insider feature.

Photo: Albert Gea/Reuters via Insider

Neofect Smart Glove

The Neofect Smart Glove has been designed to help rehabilitate stroke patients who need to improve arm and hand function and strengthen their motor skills. The device measures how the wrist and forearm and extremities are moving, with the use of an accelerometer plus bending sensors. The device is made for use either at home or as part of a clinical practice, making rehabilitation accessible.

Photo: Neofect

It’s so inspiring to see that these sorts of designs to help rehabilitate, are be released by not only design companies and health organisations and experts, but these designs are even being created from scratch by everyday people who truly have a need, or truly see the need, for the design they are bringing to life.

Next up we’ll be looking at the technology and design that is really changing how live in the home. Keep your eyes peeled for the next edition!

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