ghp January 2016 | 21 overview Are you looking forward to aging and retirement? Do you look forward to using the types of products and living in the facilities that your loved ones are forced to accept as they age? As an industrial designer of medical, mobile and consumer products my mother and father endlessly remind me that just because someone grows old it does not mean that their love for good design erodes. It does not mean that they love their aluminum walker with tennis balls, the hideous reading devices my dad needs as his macular degeneration sets in, or all forms of drug packaging and self-medication devices they need to use daily. Instead, everything about these products continuously reminds them they are aging, they need help, broad- cast this message to everyone who sees them, and in so doing most tragically erodes their sense of dignity on a daily basis. As we continue to make incredible advances in medicine, in far too many cases the state-of-the-art in healthcare being delivered to aging consumers over- shadows the fundamental principle that drives good humanistic design; they ignore the importance the human factor. All the technology in the world cannot save a product that is hard to use, confusing, tiring and that grinds away one’s independence. The lack of empathetic design solutions for an aging population is nothing short of appalling. There is a tsunami of need, like never before. One fifth of our population is 45 to 65 years old. The number of people 85 years old will increase from 6 million to 20 million in the next two decades. And 10,000 people a day will turn 65 years old for the next two decades. On top of these significant changes in the demographics of our society people entering retirement are doing so with the highest levels of disposable income in history and greatest awareness of what constitutes good design. Their bar is significantly higher and they have a low tolerance for lousy products. So I find myself for the first time in my career as an industrial designer where the intersection of societal needs and business are in total congruency. So what do we do to seize this momentous opportunity? What is the best designed product that you own? Think about how this product makes you feel every time you use it. Everything about it seems to be specifically designed for you and you alone. It feels perfect – its weight, balance, materials and textures... It sounds just right -- not cheap or irritating... And it’s beautiful – its form, balance, color, and visual rhythm looks just right. This best designed product you own also creates an emotional connection that makes you feel good about yourself, makes you happy when you use it, and in many cases becomes a seamless extension of your body. It is through this potency in great product design that we can have a profound impact on the quality of life by designing products that allow people to age in place, with dignity and respect. Products that are as much a joy and pleasure to use as they are invisibly compensating for those physical or cognitive functions that old man time chips away as we age. But the challenge in developing products that allow people to age in place, with dignity is neither simple nor obvious. Traditional tactics simply do not work. For example, so many brands around the world invest in detailed and costly market research studies to define the right feature sets to be combined with the best styling options only to consistently experience disappointing financial results. Similarly, many global Brands rely on R&D or their manufacturing partners to create breakthrough designs which results in nothing more than a redux or mimicry of what is currently in the market today. Other brands have simply stood by their high volume winning products and watched as their business slowly erodes and manufacturing lines go quiet because of lower cost off-shore knock-offs. There are however, a smaller number of brands, who recognize the strategic potency of good design and its direct impact on financial success. Super brands like Virgin, Nest, Apple, OXO, and Tesla, to name a few, have created new product categories, redefined industry standards, built cult-like brand loyalty, ex- ceeded all financial projections, and changed markets forever. The successes of this exclusive club of highly successful Brands are directly linked to their ability to make a meaningful and valued connection with their customers. They have studied and designed each and every aspect of the user experience, from product to packaging to instructions through to their mobile interface. They have designed a comprehensive user experience, not just a singular product. They have designed the total ecosystem that surrounds the prod- uct and done so in a user centric fashion. To be the best of the best you need thoughtful design solutions that look great, fit perfectly, perform flawless- ly, that make an emotional connection between the Brand and its consumers. How a product feels, looks and sounds, combined with intuitive usability and per- formance excellence defines the DNA of your Brand Experience. Building on industry-wide best practices collaborating with elite global brands Metaphase has created and refined its User Centered Innovation Process. A design process that consistently delivers Unique & Ownable Consumer Brand Experiences and Successful Products that Sell and Drive Revenues – a process referred to by The Wall Street Journal as “…a gold standard plan.” Metaphase has re-defined industry standards, invigor- ated sleepy brands, and created entirely new product categories. Over the last two decades its history of innovation spans all markets for numerous influential global brands including Medtronic, Bayer, Kellogg’s, Sony, P&G, Nokia, LG, Motorola, Steelcase, Hayworth, Gillette, J&J, Kimberly Clark, Kraft, Campbell’s, Micro- soft, Dell, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Newell Rubbermaid, Pfizer, Tyco Healthcare, and Bausch & Lomb, to mention a few. So I invite all readers to join our revolution to create world class ergonomic designs that meet real human needs, not hyped up faux needs conceived by suits in a boardroom. And know that each of you reading this article get a vote, and that vote is at the cash register. Refuse to buy bad designs. Or when you have to because no other options exist, just don’t accept it but rather reach out to the manufacturer and start a viral campaign demanding that human needs be placed ahead of business as usual. Because brands that drive their innovation by how consumers think, feel and behave, paying attention to each and every human factor, create products that deliver stunning financial success, create an everlasting bond with their consumer, and allow users to age with dignity, vitality and happiness.