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28 Jul
Bridging by Innovation
closing the gap

There are two generations that live worlds apart - the growing population of senior citizens and our technologically savvy young kids.
My generation is in a position where we have senior parents who still read newspapers and young kids who text instead of calling, which contributes to the widening generation gap and diminishing contact between these groups.
I decided to take on a project that will bring seniors and kids together and form a bridge in communication and relatedness through innovation.

Mission Statement

The senior population is increasing in numbers each and every year and they are living longer. Many of them are facing day to day challenges with operating products and accessibility due to physical limitations. Seniors are also getting less interaction with the younger generation and typically are alone or in senior citizen homes interacting with their peers only.

Today's kids are exposed to advanced technology and tools such as 3D printing, easy to use online applications for innovation, and overall an overwhelming knowledge base. Unfortunately, with access to today's smart devices, the interaction of the younger generation with the senior population is occurring less often and is not engaging enough due to lack of interests and a technological gap.

If the current state stays as is, the gap between the two generations will only widen. Seniors are going to be less inclined to close the gap due to the accelerated pace in which technology evolves, and kids will be more immersed in the new technology and with less in common with the seniors.

Bridging by Innovation Objectives:

In order to bridge this widening gap, between the two groups, we are gathering a group of children ranging from ages 6 to 13 and are arranging for a meeting with a group of senior citizens to create a cross generational innovation think tank that will lead to producing a new product.

During the meeting, the kids will gather information from the seniors regarding their day to day difficulties and obstacles in operating products and environments. The senior citizens will come up with a wish list of product solutions that could help them with these difficulties.

The kids will be discussing and brainstorming with the seniors and among themselves and trying to come up with as many solutions or product ideas as possible based on what was expressed during the meeting.
We at Vertex Product Development will take all the ideas and evaluate and refine them in order to develop an actual product which can be used and tested by the seniors.


combined

Phase One, The Meeting

The first meeting took place at the Atria Senior Living in Great Neck. We were able to assemble 14 kids ages 6 - 13 which is was quite a challenge as it is summer vacation. At Atria the seniors were waiting for us and were very happy to see us. During the meeting, all the kids introduced themselves and asked the seniors questions to find out what can be products can be improved upon and what were the typical daily difficulties the seniors encountered.

one-on-one

Some of the questions asked:

● Can you mention the most annoying task that you need to do and why it is annoying?
● Are there any hard to reach places that if you only had a special designed product to reach it, it will make your life easier?
● Anything related to getting dressed in the morning or undressing at night?
● Anything related to food consumption?
● Anything related to interaction with others?
● Anything related to passing the time, fun and games?
● Please fill in the blank: If I only had a _____________ it will save me lots of time.
● If I only had a ______________ it will be less painful to do ______________.
● If I only was able to do _____________ , time would be much easier.
● I saw _______________ some time ago, and if we could do the same for us it would be great.
● Anything related to organizing your environment?
● I always forget to ___________________ if I only had something to remind me.
● I misplace my _________________ on a regular basis.
● What do you do to make it easy on yourself in any category?
● Do you have any ideas of a product you wish you had?
● Did you ever come up with a solution to a problem?
● Did you ever create an item to help you save time or make your life easier?

The seniors were very cooperative and often asked the kids questions about themselves. At the end of the meeting, the kids and the seniors mingled and kids had opportunities to interact with the seniors one on one.

The main issues that came up were:

Forgetting where I left my things.
Bending down and reaching.
Difficulties of hearing were a repetitive issue.
Getting in and out of bed.
Combing the hair each day for a woman and shaving for the men.

facebook

 

Overall we did not discover anything that we (the adults) do not know, but for the kids some of this information was new.  We wanted the kids to hear about what seniors struggle with that they may take for granted. We also wanted to engage them and to think about solutions to these difficulties. The next phase , is to come up with something that solves one particular problem. The kids will be submitting their suggestions by posting them on the Facebook page, or in private by communicating with the Vertex PD team.