This AI-assisted ceiling light illuminates the lives of the elderly while monitoring their safety

As we age, our ability to balance and manage everyday tasks can become more challenging. Simple activities that were once effortless can require more effort and the risk of accidents and loss of control increases. For elderly individuals, having support and the knowledge that help is readily available is invaluable. However, in today’s modern world, many elderly people live alone or without immediate assistance. This is where Nobi comes in—a remarkable AI-driven smart lamp that detects, predicts, and prevents incidents, providing a sense of safety and security for the elderly.

Designer: Mati Papalini and Marko Filipic

Nobi understands the unique needs of the elderly and empowers them to live safe, dignified, and happy lives. Accidents, such as falls resulting in severe injuries, are unfortunately common among the elderly. Nobi acts as a proactive companion, constantly monitoring the surroundings to detect potential dangers and intervene, when necessary, by alarming the designated caregivers for assistance. They can monitor respiration, cough detection, and detect falls even before they occur. By doing so, Nobi ensures that prompt treatment and assistance can be provided to mitigate the impact of accidents.

Elderly individuals often struggle with adapting to new technologies, finding them complex and overwhelming. As younger generations, we have become de facto teachers for our grandparents in the realm of technology. From teaching them how to make phone calls and take pictures to navigate social media, we’ve witnessed their challenges. Nobi, however, breaks the barriers by encouraging the adoption of high-tech care technology that is perceived as difficult to use and intrusive. It not only fulfills their needs but also fosters a genuine desire to embrace them.

Nobi goes beyond its practical functions and seamlessly integrates into any interior with its stylish design. It resembles a conventional lamp rather than a piece of care technology, ensuring it doesn’t disrupt the aesthetics of the living space. Nobi’s discreet presence allows the elderly to feel comfortable and secure without drawing attention to their vulnerabilities.

Like a guardian angel, Nobi diligently stands to watch, providing continuous support and care. Its advanced AI technology enables it to operate around the clock, preventing falls and promptly alerting caregivers in the event of declining health. Nobi’s vigilant presence serves as a reliable companion for the elderly, ensuring they are never alone during crucial moments.

Nobi is a revolutionary AI-driven smart lamp that has redefined care technology for the elderly. By seamlessly blending into the living environment, Nobi offers a sense of safety and security without compromising on style. With its ability to detect, predict, and prevent accidents, Nobi acts as an ever-watchful guardian, ensuring the well-being and independence of the elderly. By embracing Nobi, elderly individuals can lead dignified lives with the knowledge that they are protected and always supported.

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This luxurious chaise lounge is actually a motorized wheelchair in disguise

Despite technologies in development to help people with walking disabilities or difficulties regain their footing, the majority of these people will most likely live out their lives in wheelchairs. That’s especially true for elderly people who are unlikely to benefit from those mechanical marvels anyway. But while wheelchairs do bring about some mobility for these people, their clinical and industrial designs don’t exactly inspire confidence, let alone provide comfort for their day-to-day activities. It’s as if these mobility devices were made to liberate their bodies while limiting their spirits, serving as a reminder of their unfavorable situation. This wheelchair concept, however, goes in a very different direction, designed to feel good and look great as if it were part of a high-class furniture set, giving users a confidence boost to regain a bit of their independence every day.

Designers: Hanyoung Lee, Haejun Park, Seongmin Ha, Jun Hong, Soyeon Park, Hyunsub Shin

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For some elderly people, wheelchairs represent an odd dichotomy. These personal mobility devices allow them to go places on their own that would otherwise be unreachable for them, but at the same time, they also serve as a very visible and visual reminder of their disability. These people, however, are in more need of social support and emotional confidence through independence of movement that will let them connect with other people on their own. The Resilience motorized wheelchair concept is designed to meet that need not through technological features alone but also through the smart use of colors and materials.

In a nutshell, Resilience transforms the idea of a typically rugged motorized wheelchair into an elegant chaise lounge, one that you might not even recognize as a wheelchair. Colors such as Resilient gray and Classy chrome give the mobile piece of furniture an elegant flair, while materials such as plastic and leather provide soft comfort and pleasant tactile experiences. At the same time, the construction is also made to be durable and stable, employing aluminum and metal parts that inspire confidence in the use of the wheelchair.

Beyond just materials, the Resilience’s form also generates mellowing thoughts through the use of smooth surfaces and gentle curves. The base has wavy details that could call to mind the ridges of clam shells or the ripples of water. This elegant design is used as a metaphor for the elderly person’s influence extending and expanding as their mobility and independence increase.

Resilience is actually part of a larger mobility system, one that includes a self-driving “Brio” vehicle designed specifically to accommodate this luxurious motorized wheelchair. Brio uses the same design language as Resilience, making it look and feel like they’re two parts of the same whole, one that’s designed to help expand the elderly’s reach, whether indoors or outdoors.

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Walking aid for the elderly comes with a box for carrying their furry friends

Humans seem to be wired to be social animals, and that is sometimes a difficult problem for certain people. Loneliness affects everyone, but the pain can become more acute for people who are more advanced in age and who find it hard to develop new relationships because of limits to their mobility. Pets have become a solution for some of the elderly folk, but that, too, comes with its own puzzles to solve. People advanced in age are often advised to still go outside as long as they are able to, but they are hesitant to leave their furry friends at home as well. Solving multiple related problems can be a daunting task, but this walker concept pulls it off in a way that is both simple and effective.

Designer: Feng Chang

There are definitely plenty of walking aid designs, some even serving multiple functions. Some are just a step above crutches that you have to lift to move forward, while others come with wheels that increase mobility at the expense of some stability. Some come with small seats for the user, and others have baskets to hold their things. This particular walker concept combines some of these to present a more agile yet safe aid that has room for your pet when you go out.

The most conspicuous part of this walker is the large box that serves as your pet’s mobile home. You can simply slide the door on top to let the little furry friend in or out, or you can keep it close so that they don’t jump out suddenly. Of course, there are vents that allow the pet to breathe easily while comfortably confined in there.

The walking aid itself has a few aspects that help it rise about common designs. The handle, for example, travels in almost all directions, giving the user the freedom to grip it any way they prefer. There’s a brake button underneath the handlebar that will prevent the user from falling over or sliding. The front wheels also have LED lights above them that can be recharged via a USB-C slot on the opposite side, offering additional safety, especially in darker areas.

This walking aid concept hits two birds with one well-designed stone to help make elderly lives a bit more enjoyable and meaningful. It offers a convenient way for them to bring their beloved pets with them for a walk while also providing mobility and safety for themselves. And while the walker is primarily designed for very old people, anyone with limited mobility and a small pet can still benefit from this idea, at least if it ever becomes a real product.

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Chair with extended arms to help elderly sit and stand without assistance

There are a lot of things that we tend to take for granted just because it comes naturally to us – things like breathing properly, looking at a sunrise, listening to your favorite songs, etc. Eventually, we realize that there are people in the world, maybe even people around us, that find simple things to be a challenge because of some conditions that they have. That’s why I love it when people come up with or collaborate with persons with disabilities to create products that can make life a little bit easier for them.

Designer: Sarah Hossli

The act of sitting down and standing up is something that most of us are able to do naturally. But as you grow older, it becomes a bit more challenging as you reach your twilight years. They say that we are currently in a phase of a rapidly aging population and so we need to rethink things as simple as sitting and standing. If you’ve been around an elderly person, you see that they sometimes need to be assisted when doing these simple actions. But what if there was a chair that would help them out without needing the assistance of other people?

The designer worked with a retirement home (Generationenhaus Neubad) in Basel, Switzerland and came up with the T’ROI chair. It is basically a comfortable-looking chair whose main feature is its extended arms. This slight change to a regular chair will actually help the elderly or those with infirmities to sit down on it and get up later on without needing the assistance of other people. They are able to use the extended arms as their sort of a balancing grip to help them stand up or sit down.

While we automatically try to help the elderly when we see them having difficulties (well, most of us I guess), there are also times when they don’t want to feel totally useless and want to retain their dignity. That’s why having products like the T’ROI chair can give them more confidence in moving around despite their age-related impairments. The secret to a chair like this is to have sturdy materials that will prevent the elderly from slipping or getting into other accidents.

The chair seems comfortable enough which is something they would also need as sitting for a long time can also bring all sorts of aches and pains. It would be better if there was some sort of ergonomic feature for it that can help protect their backs, bones, and joints. But as it is, the T’RIO seems to be a pretty useful piece of furniture that can help the elderly.

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This robot follows you like a loyal pet and lets you sit on it when you’re tired

Robots have almost become mainstream these days, with the dozens of robot vacuums at homes, the numerous uses of Boston Dynamics’ Spot in healthcare and safety, and a few self-driving boxes that attempt to deliver your pizza while it’s hot. We’re still quite a few steps away, however, from the faithful robot companions of fiction, much less the humanoid machines that are promised to take care of us in times of need and frailty. This might still not be it, but this box with wheels probably comes closest to a robot that rolls wherever you go, carrying your stuff or even carrying your weight while you rest for a bit.

Designer: Piaggio Fast Forward

If this robot looks like an icebox with wheels to you, you aren’t far from the truth. Gita, as it is called, can actually carry a load of 40 lbs (18 kg) inside it, which is great for groceries or even books. It’s also strong enough to let you sit on it when there’s no chair or bench available, and it won’t make snarky comments about your weight.

And since it’s a robot, Gita isn’t something you’ll have to pull or push around, which would completely defeat its purpose. What makes it a bit special, however, is that it can follow its owner around using the same technologies you hear about in self-driving cars. It uses a variety of sensors and artificial intelligence to follow its owner and navigate its surroundings. It doesn’t rely on GPS, which makes it possible to have the robot follow you indoors where GPS signals are often weak or non-existent.

If you think that Gita is designed for lazy people, however, you are actually way off the mark. Named for the Italian word for “short trip,” the robot actually encourages people to walk around, enjoy the great outdoors, and not have to worry about carrying things or not having somewhere to sit on to catch their breath. In fact, the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing is using these robots in a test that tries to get older people to be more mobile again.

Gita is also designed to also look more approachable than your common vacuum cleaner or, worse, Spot. The variety of colors available, which includes “Signal Red,” “Spark Citron,” and “Boardwalk Beige,” give the robots more personality, almost like a pet. The smooth, curved surfaces of its body and the unique design of its wheels almost make it look more like a toy than a mechanical tool, potentially helping human users get a bit more attached to their robotic porter.

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This cork planter + assistive device functions as a lantern and health tracker for the elderly!

More than a quarter of the world’s elderly population relies on assistive devices throughout the day to help with daily activities like cleaning, walking, and cooking. With contactless health services rising in popularity due to the global pandemic of 2020, that number is sure to only increase. While functionality is the most crucial aspect of assistive devices, the overall look and approachability are arguably just as important. Recognizing the importance of intuitive and simple design, designers at Iran University of Science and Technology created Fanoos, a health tracker for elderly people that doubles as a nighttime lantern.

Fanoos consists of a planter that rests at the bottom of the device’s three-legged frame and a detachable lantern that sits just above it. The three wooden legs that comprise Fanoos’s frame seem to be cut from natural pinewood, while the planter and lamplight mimic the texture of cork for a soft and lightweight feel. Included with Fanoos is an emergency button located on the top of the lamplight, which can be pressed whenever medical attention is necessary. Through integrated technology, Fanoos tracks the health status of elderly citizens, from sleeping habits to their emotional wellbeing. In fact, Fanoos adapts according to the user’s mood and emotional state.

In addition to the health-tracking sensors that fill out Fanoos, the detachable lamp’s light is adjustable so that it can be dimmed or brightened throughout the day and night according to each user’s preference or need. During the night, when a user needs to use the bathroom or grab a glass of water from the kitchen, the detachable lamp can be used like an old-school lantern and carried throughout the house. Or, if a user cannot walk and carry the lantern at the same time, the brightness can be raised to light up the room just enough to see the floor and surrounding space.

Designer: Iran University of Science and Technology

Fanoos consists of a planter and lantern equipped with integrated health-tracking technology.

Fanoos’s simple assembly further enhances its intuitive design and makes it easy to transport or switch between rooms.

An SOS button on the top of Fanoos’s lantern signal that a resident requires medical attention.

Fanoos adapts to each resident’s changing mood and preference.

Come night, Fanoos becomes a lantern for the elderly to use when moving from room to room.

The Google Nest Audio smart-speaker gets its own detachable Walkie-Talkie with a touch display

Chris Barnes’ conceptual Google device caters to the niche audience that needs connectivity the most, but struggle to keep up with technology or to avoid the complications associated with advanced tech. The Google Home Phone is a fusion of the Google Home smart-speaker (now the Nest Audio smart-speaker) and the Google Pixel), but its spiritual ancestor is, in fact, the landline phone. Designed to be a smart device with a dockable receiver or ‘phone’, the Google Home Phone lets the elderly connect with their relatives and friends who are also a part of the Google ecosystem. Once set up, the Home Phone works like a smart speaker, allowing you to ask for help, access information, or contact people, while the detachable ‘handset’ functions as the receiver on a landline, allowing you to lift it off the base and talk to people, not just using audio, but using video too!

The Home Phone is an incredibly interesting concept for a whole bunch of reasons. For starters, Barnes envisions it as a “better”, smarter, and wireless version of a landline, allowing you to contact people without remembering phone numbers, see who’s calling (via Google’s contact database), be unencumbered by coiled wires, and easily avoid robocalls (thanks to Google’s incredible spam-detection AI). The touchscreen display on the detachable unit serves as a visual aid, allowing the elderly to tap icons without navigating confusing interfaces… and accessibility features like adjustable font-sizes make it easy for people with visual impairment.

Personally, the Google Home Phone gets a bunch of things right with its form factor. Not only is the dockable receiver + base interaction very reminiscent of the landline telephone (in fact the receiver can be held to one’s ear like a conventional phone too), but its circular ‘phone’ also ticks two arguably important boxes. The circular form-factor is rather comfortable to hold in any angle (a great win for people with dexterity issues), but at the same time, dock it onto its base and it also resembles a magical crystal ball, which believe it or not, is a familiar silhouette that also cleverly ties into the magical ability for the circular screen to really display anything, from faces of loved ones, to the time, weather, messages, and even Map routes!

Barnes even fleshed out the Home Phone concept to make sure it’s a practical systems solution (and not just a pretty concept). The base sports a wired connection (so you never have to worry about batteries), and features a powerful smart-speaker that’s easy to talk to. The dockable ‘phone’ sits loosely on top of the base, with ‘no fixed docking position’, which means the elderly never have to worry about making sure they’ve placed the receiver the right way. As soon as the phone and hub are in proximity, the hub begins wirelessly charging the phone. The phone-unit also comes with a notch of its own, featuring a powerful camera system that enables two-way video communication. Not only does it mean the elderly can have video conferences with their friends, family, caretakers, and medical staff, it also enables the latter to keep a watchful eye on their elderly wards by allowing the Google Home Phone to function as a home-camera.

Designer: Chris Barnes

A bread-shaped pill box pops up from this toaster to playfully remind you to take care of yourself!

One of the little joys of life is a perfectly browned toast and you know that you will get a perfect one each time the 3 minute timer is up! Charles Strite invented the automatic toaster that saved so many slices from being burned to a crisp because it is the most human thing to forget – and we forget things all the time, right from drinking enough water to getting up from our desks. However, taking care of ourselves and having medicines on time is something we can’t forget so a team of designers came up with a simple yet genius idea of combining reminders to take our pills with a playful toaster.

This 2020 European Product Design (Design for Society/Design for Elders category) award-winning product is a pillbox that stores a week’s worth of medication divided into days and pops up when it is time to take your daily dose. The traditional pillboxes can make you feel self-conscious but if you have one shaped like bread, everyone around you is going to ‘loaf’ it and want one too – bread has the power to make everyone happy! This toaster works for everyone but was specially made keeping the elderly demographic in mind as they tend to be more forgetful. This playful pillbox and reminder device bring some familiar relief while helping people to take their medication on time. Keep in mind that the older generation may not be most comfortable with using smartphones to set reminders or may not recognize the difference between alarms/reminder tones but the toaster helps because they don’t have to learn how to operate something new. Also, if you miss a reminder on your phone it won’t ring again but the bread slice pillbox will remain popped up which is a second visual reminder to take your medication if you miss hearing it.

You have three slices of “bread” that contain a week’s worth of medication and pop up at regular times each day along with flashing lights and vibrations. The toaster’s form also appeals to the emotional needs of users and reduces the depression caused by long-term medication through its bright colors and familiarity. The Toaster Medicine Box was a 2020 European Product Design Award winner in the Design for Society/Design for Elders category.

Designers: Ding Xiong, Liu Shan, Yang Yunyi of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and Xu Mengzhen of Fuxi Laboratory of China Resources Sanjiu Medical & Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

A portable DVD player+display designed to make binge watching easy for the elderly

The digital age was already booming but ever since the pandemic hit, it has reached a whole new level. Now everything has to be done digitally – working, ordering groceries, attending weddings, and even your doctor’s appointments. While most of us are well-versed with using apps for everything, we often forget about the elderly who don’t consider their smartphones as an extension of their body. This is a difficult time for them since they are more at risk but doubly difficult because gadgets are not their best friends. Keeping this in mind, Designer Chen Zhigang (ZJ-DDG) created DVDISC which is a conceptual device aimed at letting folks binge watch without Netflix!

DVDISC is for many of us who still have their old DVD/CD collection but mainly for those who just want to watch a movie without operating a laptop or an app they are not comfortable with. The goal of this design is to make using the device a super simple task, so the UI and UX revolve around that. It has simple physical buttons that are shallow dips in the physical surface and are all labeled which makes it very easy to operate. It literally tells you where to put the DVD or CD and if you need to ‘click’ or ‘press’ a certain button and exactly what it will do. Another important thing was to include a cost-effective display that doesn’t reduce the quality of the image. All you have to do is insert the DVD or CD in the slot and flip it over to watch on the screen. It truly makes watching content easier for the elderly or even those who may experience forms of mental disabilities. After all, everyone deserves a good binge-watching session in quarantine! I would call this a smart design instead of a smart device.

Designer: Chen Zhigang (ZJ-DDG)




MIT wants to use your microwaving habits to study your health

Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have created a wireless system that monitors how people use the appliances in their homes. The team believes that with data about how and when users operate everyt...