Design Thinking in Today’s World

Digital Making at the Makerlab last week was an eye opener. Representatives from the Design for America team held a workshop about design thinking and creating solutions to solve real world problems. The Design for America team at the University of Illinois creates products and solutions which help impact the society we live in and it was fantastic to see them hold a workshop as part of the digital making class to help us integrate 3-D Printing to solve real world problems. For example, DFA has come up with  an innovative product called TherepAlz which aims to help patients of dementia and and related disorders by using robotic therapeutic animals. At the workshop 6 teams of about 4 members each worked on creating a solution/product to help alleviate the challenges faced by Senior citizens in our societies. The DFA team walked us through the design process which started from thinking about a big problem and then narrowing it down to creating a feasible,attractive and a marketable product. My team focused on helping the elderly socialize and express their thoughts using technology. We created a type of glasses which old people could wear and record/stream videos about them either cooking a meal or sharing some interesting experiences. Also as a team we came up with a design logo for our team name. Here are some pictures from last week:

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Design thinking is a process of creating products which are not only desirable by consumers but also feasible technically and business wise. Dr. David Weightman, who is a professor of Industrial Design in the School of Art and Design at the UIUC, explains in his interview that a good design is created at the intersection of desirability,feasibility and viability. It is interesting to understand how a product is created to impact the society. One must first reach out to that very society which needs help and understand what the people really want both technically and economically. Tim Brown, CEO of the international design consulting firm IDEO, gives interesting examples in his article “Design Thinking” where he talks about creating products which meet peoples need;s and desires. IDEO worked with Shimano, a Japanese bicycle manufacturing company, which was trying to understand why 90% of American adults did not ride bikes. The team then did in depth analysis to find the various causes of this problem and then implemented strategic ways to solve this day to day problem.Recently, BMW’s venture capital arm has invested money into a Boston based 3-D Metal Printing Startup company. Car manufacturing in the next 15 years could be revolutionized by this technology if made feasible and viable. Innovation today is drastically changing and with the advent of 3-D Manufacturing, the design thinking process is going to take a whole new turn and maybe help solve many of the worlds problems.