Smart applications for inclusivity and sustainability

Dutch Design Week presents 8 design trends this year that mark the most important developments in the field of design. The seventh trend focuses on Smart Living.
Seb
Seb
Power returned to the consumer

Four Experience Design Master students from the TU Delft joined forces and got to work with an application that in the future will map out and monitor the energy consumption of our appliances. ‘Seb’ the energy management system of tomorrow: a platform that will cause a shift from centralised energy to decentralised energy. The TU students believe that we could live in self-supporting communities where energy prices fluctuate through communal use. Through appliances that generate energy and that monitor our energy consumption. Within this platform each user is both producer and consumer. Through working together as consumers, the dependence on large corporations is somewhat diminished. Above all, Seb wants to awaken the environmental debate about energy. Which is why this platform stimulates solar power.

Another product that allows consumers to monitor their consumption is: Aquadigital from design studio VanBerlo. Despite the expectation that smart meters would reduce water consumption this has not proved to be the case. Especially since water consumption is only registered once a year. VanBerlo studio came up with something for this: real-time feedback with corresponding statistics presented in a form that everyone understands. Aquadigital also supplies a dashboard that can be connected to analogue water meters. With Aquadigital, the water meter can be made ‘smart’ with a flick of the wrist. A solution to make serious inroads in substantially changing consumer behaviour. 

Tik-Tik
Simon Dogger
Technology for inclusivity

Simon Dogger scored well last year with his project Emotion Whisperer. An app is connected to spectacles, transforming emotions for people with a visual impairment into tangible and audible signals. That he has continued on his path towards more inclusive appliances was clear from his contribution again this year. The main question appeared to be ‘How can we utilize smart appliances and technologies to create more equality in public spaces?’ He introduced Tik-Tik, an inclusive indoor navigation app. This app makes it possible for users with various disabilities to receive information about building access and how this can be entered most easily.

Products as mood enhancers

Another reason for deploying technology is to improve the environment to enhance the users’ moods. Since 2015, the designers collective Enrichers has been involved in the development of a fully-fledged collection of furniture that aims to realise just this. This led to the development of the Macaron wobble cushion on which DDW visitors could bob up and down as though they were on a ship. They could also experience what it would be like to walk on water with the assistance of the Floatile water floor. Enrichers employ a method that comprises close collaboration between neuroscientists where the effect on people´s emotions is continually monitored. A series of products that the collective designed for the NS (Dutch National Railways) enhanced the users’ moods by 40% according to the University of Cambridge. How long this effect lasts is yet unknown.    

The opportunities for connections between technology and design are infinite. At least, that is what we see in these cross-disciplinary collaborations. The optimism displayed by the designers and the search for possibilities for deploying technology are perfectly in line with the DDW mission. This through the conviction that collaboration is the key to a better living environment. And there is more than enough evidence to support this.