Design Innovation

Design Age Institute is partnering with designers and industry to develop innovative programmes and invest in pathfinder projects that will help bring an array of exciting new products and services for the healthy ageing marketplace towards market.

Design Innovation

The Healthy Ageing Marketplace

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Calling innovators in happy & healthy ageing!

If you are a business, innovator or entrepreneur, get in touch about working with us to develop your prototype, idea, or plan for the healthy ageing marketplace.

Get in touch  

Working with industry partners and businesses across the UK, our pathfinder projects focus on using design and design-led innovation to develop products and services that will enable people to enjoy five extra healthy, independent years of life and to remain at work for longer.

Our investment into innovative design for the under-exploited healthy ageing market includes seed funding, access to cutting edge-research, business opportunity scoping and mentoring, as well as connecting project teams with design expertise. Pathfinder projects will address key priorities across the core sectors of home, health and work.

Discover more about our current projects below.

Case Studies

We are excited to launch our first six pathfinder projects including a birdsong app for hearing health, cargo-carrying robots and flexible homes.  

Read our latest press release and discover more about the projects we are investing in below.

Centaur Robotics and ExtraCare Charitable Trust

Centaur Robotics and ExtraCare Charitable Trust

Centaur Robotics

Centaur is a revolutionary self-balancing, two-wheeled personal electric vehicle. The Design Age Institute is already collaborating with Centaur Robotics to enhance the way the Centaur communicates with users.

Now the Institute and Centaur Robotics are teaming up with the ExtraCare Charitable Trust to further enhance the vehicle’s sophisticated technology and the support services that make it easier to drive the vehicle. The work will also increase the potential market for the Centaur, which will be available at an affordable price.

Design principles and research enabled by the Design Age Institute will help make the Centaur attractive and ultra-safe for mobility impaired people in communities and private homes, both across the UK and internationally.

Data-driven diabetes management

Data-driven diabetes management

Sheffield University and DAFNE

The Design Age Institute, in collaboration with Sheffield University and DAFNE (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating), is working on a project to explore the design inclusivity of the WithCare+/Glucollector technology platform, a unique data-driven, evidence-based, bio-psycho-social integrated technology platform developed at Sheffield for diabetes management.

The project will allow the platform to be accessible to more people with diabetes. The platform will be both website and app enabled technology that allows diabetics to monitor their glucose levels quickly and easily at home, encouraging exercise and mobility, whilst also allowing healthcare professionals full data access and monitoring when required. This will enable optimal personalised control leading to better glucose control, avoidance of complications, improved quality of life and reduced costs.

Hearing Birdsong

Hearing Birdsong

Kennedy Woods

Hearing loss drives many critical age-related challenges, including social isolation, with strong links to increased dementia risks and cognitive deterioration. Design Age Institute will work with Kennedy Woods to develop a Hearing Birdsong app that will remove the barriers of social stigma and poor user design which currently leaves millions of people undiagnosed with an age-related hearing impairment and contributes to an average delay of 10 years.

Hearing Birdsong is an immersive digital audioscape that uses the inviting sound of British birdsong to engage people with their hearing health. It aims to humanise the diagnostic process and inspire users to protect their hearing health and long-term wellbeing by reconnecting with the natural environment. Hearing Birdsong has previously been trialled as a physical installation.

Gita cargo-carrying following robots

Gita cargo-carrying following robots

National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA)

Gita® is a first-of-its-kind cargo-carrying following robot. The Gita robot pairs with a person and follows them while they walk. It can carry up to 18kg of cargo freeing the hands of the user. The Gita robots are being tested by Newcastle University’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA), where they will study human experiences and interactions with the robots and explore user acceptance. NICA is a Design Age Institute partner.

The aim of the Gita robot is to supply older people with an intuitive and responsive companion, enabling them to have the confidence to engage with the outside world and their communities in a meaningful way. Designer-in-Residence Roseanne Wakely has been brought into the project from Design Age Institute to explore and expand the capabilities of Gita. She is using Gita as a platform to consider how older people can accommodate robots in their everyday lives in the city and support healthy ageing. Gita provides a new lens that grants them the opportunity to re-imagine and dream of their ideal city of the future. You can watch videos that showcase the benefits of Gita, including Health, Conversation and Companionship, here.

Gita® is made by robotics company Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF) and is backed by Piaggio Group, manufacturer of the iconic Vespa scooters.

Flexible housing to age in place, live and work

Flexible housing to age in place, live and work

Northumbria University

The housing industry in the UK does not respond to the challenges of growing old. It continues to build homes that are very difficult to adapt, compromising the ability of people to age in place.

Northumbria University will be working with Design Age Institute to design and develop a purpose-built live/work environment within a prototype home, to be built at South Seaham Garden Village in County Durham. The project is supported by Karbon Homes as part of their commitment to ageing innovation and ageing-in-place strategies within the village. This design research will lead to a blueprint of how older people can work efficiently and effectively from home and remain productive beyond retirement age.

The prototype will consider layout, ergonomics, flexible and demountable furniture, lighting, and smart technology. It will be codesigned with members of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, and older people, in collaboration with the NICA and Voice.

The age-inclusive bank

The age-inclusive bank

National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA)

As we age our banking needs change. However current banking services exclude many older users.

Design Age Institute, in collaboration with the institute partner Newcastle University’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA), are working on a project to explore what a wholly inclusive bank could be.

Designer-in-residence, Roseanne Wakely, has been appointed to work with older bank users to discover their unique banking needs and the types of products and services required to serve them best in a user-friendly and accessible way.