The Enabled by Design-athon Parts 2 & 3: Ideas & Making

By late afternoon on Friday 2nd November the Enabled by Design-athon was in full swing. Multidisciplinary teams worked on thirteen different projects looking to support people to live as independently as possible and help improve accessibility. The ‘Ideas & Making’ section of the event allowed attendees (whatever their background) to have a hand in making and informing new designs, building on the insights and experiences gathered earlier in the day from Part 1: ‘Explore’.

The structure of the event aimed to elevate the importance of designing with people, who represented particular user groups, during the process by co-designing with them in the same room. Teams continued to engage with these expert users from the Enabled by Design community throughout the design and iteration process, constantly challenging their ideas and approach.

“True empathy is important in design. Understand my view of my world, not your take on it.” Lucy Watt, FutureGov

The teams had identified real user needs and created personas to design for and against. Briefs were generated that not only tackled accessibility issues but also looked at mainstreaming products that could support independent living, while helping to reduce the stigma sometimes related to this area.

The next part of this blog series will reflect on the ‘Show & Tell’ part of the event, but for now, here’s all you need to know about the ‘Ideas & Making’ activities.

The teams were supplied with everything they needed to quickly design and build prototypes, including modern manufacturing tools such as CNC machines, 3D printers and laser cutters, as well as materials for rough and ready prototyping such as card, blue foam, scissors, and of course, sugru. They built and visualised ideas quickly throughout the day working on a mix of digital and physical prototypes.

Instagram Photos: @Kachel, @jinneshopkins & @Lucy_Watt

Physical prototyping approaches included low-tech products made from scratch, hacking and editing existing assistive technology and rapid prototyping using 3D Printers. Digital prototyping came courtesy of Technology Will Save Us who ran a technology prototyping area at the event with Arudinos and electronics. To say we were impressed with the resourcefulness of the makers would be an understatement; accessible bathrooms were hacked, wheels were ‘borrowed’ off of partitions, our catering table was pilfered and everything in between was a potential prototyping component!

Photo: Playsettings

Photo: Pump Easy – Michelle Douglas @michellio

Rapid report back sessions took place throughout the ‘Ideas & Making’ process. This was an opportunity for teams to share their progress and learning, as well as show off their ideas and prototypes, but also gave attendees a break to stand back and reassess what they were trying to achieve.

Photo: Murtz Abidi @murtz_abidi

Teams worked late into the night as the competition hotted up and the ‘Share’ part of the agenda loomed. Thirteen new and exciting accessibility inspired products were taking form, addressing and tackling a wide range of challenges. Here is a sneak peek of some of the projects:

  • Assistive bathroom accessories that appeal to everyone
  • Playful crockery for dextrous dining
  • Designing for the awkwardness of asking for and offering help
  • The next generation kettle
  • Customised accessories for digital hearing aids
  • A modular, DIY home protection product

You can view more images of the ‘Ideas & Making’ activities here on the Enabled by Design-athon 2012 Flickr group pool.

The next stage (Part 4: Share) of the Enabled by Design-athon allowed teams to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and answer related questions, which we’ll be sharing in the next blog post, so see you then…