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Where things be going.

September 8, 2008

I can’t say I know exactly what I’m doing – I think I have some good ideas though.

I’m trying to avoid the cliche-ish old people projects – trying to avoid fixing an easy problem with a horribly complex solution. Yes, a pill dispenser would be nice, and would save some headaches, but such an animal already exists, and redesigning it really isn’t necessary. Although I could design a new chair-lift to get people up and down stairs, it doesn’t require any real innovation. In other words, I’m looking for a more open-ended problem that can really inspire some innovation and let me do something really interesting.

I have a couple thoughts. One, addressing the stair issue, how can we eliminate the whole chair lift thing in the first place, by reworking the stair design to make them transversable by people with limited mobility, without making them unusable to normal people? The idea would be, to allow for disability without creating unhealthy habits such as Elevators and such – they are required in buildings because of building codes, to help people who can’t get up standard stairs – but it ends up with perfectly normal people who use them because they are too lazy to walk up a flight of stairs. On the other hand, only the disabled people use the chair lift – but because of its design, it is basically a social stigma to use it – how do you avoid that, while not enabling laziness?

My other thought, was that old people have lots of crap. As in, too much stuff in their basements that they really should throw away. Both sets of my grandparents have a bit of a packrat issue, collecting completely different stuff – one collects stuff best catagorized as “garage sale crap”, with the justification that “oh, Tim will want that one day” – and on the other side of the family, we have an overly large collection of old technology stuff, everything from boxes upon boxes of vacuum tubes in the attic, old electronic components, boxes of equipment, whatever. All extremely useful stuff in its time, but not something my grandfather will ever use again – at least not something he is likely to use in anywhere near the magnitude of what he stores. Again, a fair amount is being stored for when ‘someone else’ needs it. And in many cases, there is some useful stuff that ‘someone’ needs, and that shouldn’t be thrown away, but that person finding that thing is highly unlikely.

When you add this tendancy to store everything with decreased mobility, dexterity, and all sorts of other problems that come with age, you have a problem of epic preportions, where the only person who knows where stuff is can’t handle it, and those who could use it don’t know it exists. This seems like a nice complex problem that could use an elegant solution – some sort of storage system that would help with all that. But, how would it be implemented so its different (and better) than every other storage system, and is that problem better stated as ‘what should be thrown away’?

mmm… research.

-Bryan

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One comment

  1. Is there anyway to convince them that they don’t need the stuff?? Or that the rest of your family doesn’t need it either? Do they find it comforting to have it? could you transfer that comfort to something else? Or do they think it’s stressful to be so cluttered, in which case you could work on storage, but once you get enough stuff organizing it is near impossible..



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