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Designs for good health

80 Product design students won praise from the global design community after participating in a worldwide ‘Design-athon’ challenge.

A group of 80 BA/BSc Product Design students won praise from the global design community after participating in a worldwide ‘Design-athon’ challenge to create healthy communities within the workplace.

Over two-weeks, the students were tasked with coming up with ideas to help people make positive changes to their health and wellness in the workplace, including identifying skills and tools needed to communicate positive changes through networks of colleagues, family and friends.

The team delivered the social innovation project through the OpenIDEO community (the open innovation arm of IDEO, one of the world's most influential design consultancies), posting their ideas on the organisation’s online platform. Because OpenIDEO is accessed by the design community worldwide and has more than 40,000 users, the students were able to profile their ideas on a global stage, receiving feedback and approval and network with others participating.

The students designed a variety of innovative concepts including Tremayne Gilling who created a ‘Posture Band’ to help improve the posture of workers at their desks.  The band, worn around the wrist, connects to sensors on a vest which detect the position of your back and categorises your type of posture.

Julian Hooper designed a mobile phone app that visualises the connections between employees in the workplace and the projects they are working on.  The app would help employees understand the affect that their contributions have on the workplace and how different parts of the business link together.

Senior lecturer Wyn Griffiths, who led the project, said: “We have had a great response from the students, the online community and from OpenIDEO themselves.  A number of our students’ ideas have been featured on the OpenIDEO website and they have been impressed with our approach and results and want to feature Middlesex University and its designers on their site. This is an amazing opportunity for students to make a real contribution to big issues, collaborate internationally with the open innovation community, build great contacts and raise their profiles as designers.”

During the design-athon Co-Founder of OpenIDEO, Nathan Waterhouse, tweeted: “You guys are fantastic!” and “This is incredible!”

Final year student Will McGrath said: “It’s been really good experience taking part and sharing our ideas.  It’s really valuable to get opinions and feedback on your work from those in the design industry across the globe.”

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