NUS - National University of Singapore

06/10/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/10/2024 00:32

DID Gradshow 2024: Unlocking the transformative power of design


DID Gradshow 2024: Unlocking the transformative power of design

2024 0610 DID GradShow Opening (41) - Overview
The NUS Division of Industrial Design's annual graduation showcase was held from 7 to 10 June at the Singapore Science Park this year. The 32 student projects reflect a deep understanding of human needs, community well-being, and environmental sustainability.

The NUS Division of Industrial Design's (DID) annual graduation showcase is a powerhouse of creativity and empathy. It is the culmination of four rigorous years of experiential learningat the NUS College of Design and Engineering,and showcases the meaningful partnerships our undergraduates have forged with industry collaborators.

Held from 7 to 10 June at the Singapore Science Park this year, 32 talented students demonstrated, through their capstone projects, the role of design and innovation in meeting real-world needs. Their wide-ranging projectsreflected a deep appreciation of human behaviour, community well-being, and environmental sustainability.

From an app that leverages existing digital infrastructure to monitor older persons who may be at risk of falling, to a special test-kit to check the health status of one's kidneys, to an AI-assisted therapeutic tool for people with dementia - the varied projects presented at the DID Gradshow 2024 illuminated how a deeply considered, human-centred design approach to different challenges can help to shape a better world for Singapore and society.

2024 0610 DID GradShow Opening (29) - Joseph
Joseph wanted to find a cost-effective solution that maximises accessibility for people who might be at risk of falling. He realised that an effective fall detection system could leverage existing digital infrastructure such as the Health Promotion Board's fitness trackers.

FallGuard: Tracking falls among older persons

Joseph Liew's paternal and maternal grandmothers had suffered falls in recent years, but they fortunately avoided serious injuries as they were attended to in the nick of time. The twin scare, however, led the NUS Industrial Design student to think about how other older persons in Singapore might not fare as well especially if they live alone or do not have access to help when needed.

Joseph decided to tackle this issue for his final year project. He found that existing services to monitor falls were surprisingly few and ineffective. For example, a wall-mounted fall detector has to be installed in every room - from the kitchen to the bedroom to the toilet and the yard. This would raise the cost exponentially, as well as result in privacy concerns. A floor mat with motion sensors to detect falls may be less invasive, but is clearly inadequate.

Currently, about 1 out of every 5 Singapore citizens are 65 years old and older, and this translates to more than 689,000 older persons. And the numbers are increasing rapidly - by 2030, the elderly population is set to increase to 24.1 per cent, or 1 out of every 4 citizens.

"I felt there was an opportunity to improve the simplicity and accessibility of fall detection systems, which ultimately led me to create FallGuard for my thesis project," Joseph said.

He added, "I spoke with professionals such as medical social workers to better understand the digital world that older persons may encounter, as well as the many complex and private caregiver arrangements they had observed from their patients."

"The emergency doctors and experts in related services like Singapore Civil Defence Force first responders provided practical guidance in the form of key medical information for emergencies, guidance on lead times, and how to best alert emergency services in the event of incapacitated fall victims."

"I realised that introducing new tech might not be necessary for an effective fall detection system. Instead, I should think out-of-the-box using existing technology to find a solution that cuts cost and maximises accessibility. This was a key objective I had in mind as I developed FallGuard."

FallGuard, a fall detection system for seniors residing in Singapore, is unique in its simplicity - it leverages the existing digital infrastructure and publicity of the Health Promotion Board's (HPB) National Steps Challenge (NSC). The NSC fitness tracker has been extensively rolled out on a massive, nation-wide scale for the past 10 years.

Capitalising on HPB's Healthy365 app, which is widely used in Singapore, FallGuard can seamlessly integrate with the NSC fitness tracker and immediately notify caregivers or service centres in the event of a fall or extended periods of motionlessness.

Joseph has reached out to potential partners for a possible collaboration.

2024 0610 DID GradShow Opening (32) - Celeste
Celeste worked closely with PCF Sparkle Care and ECON Healthcare to develop an AI-assisted story-telling activity to improve the well-being of older persons with dementia and facilitate communication with their caregivers.

Rememo: Leveraging AI to spark memory and ignite conversations for individuals with dementia

A card-based story telling activity - Rememo - developed by Celeste Seah, aims to bridge the gap in reminiscence therapy for individuals with dementia. Traditional methods of therapy using personal or stock photos can either be too specific or general, often lacking the personal touch that resonates with older persons. Celeste recognised this gap and developed Rememo, a prototype that produces AI-generated images created from specific prompts provided by people with dementia.

During the research and development process, Celeste worked closely with PCF Sparkle Care and ECON Healthcare to conduct user testing to gather insights from both eldercare professionals and individuals with dementia. The project also benefitted from collaborations with various organisations and experts in the field.

The working prototype of Rememo includes a card holder that scans the cards selected by the older person, creating a customised prompt that is sent it to an AI engine for image generation. The resulting image is then printed as a polaroid, providing a tangible and personalised memento for the individual with dementia as well as a conversation starter. This innovative approach empowers older persons, giving them autonomy over the therapy session while facilitating communication with care staff.

"For my thesis project, I knew I wanted to work on a project related to memory and lived experiences. During my six-month exchange to the University of Technology Eindhoven in the Netherlands, I had the opportunity to work on a design research project to improve communication for people with dementia. As I learned more about this debilitating condition, I hoped to do more for people with dementia," she said.

Celeste decided to pursue this topic when she returned to Singapore. What started as a relatively simple but broad direction soon transformed into a full-fledged product that thoughtfully incorporated the needs of multiple stakeholders while taking advantage of the benefits of emerging generative AI technology.

Rememo stands as a testament to the power of technology and human-centred design in improving the well-being of older persons as well as addressing the challenges of caregivers.

2024 0610 DID GradShow Opening (31) - Syafiq
Syafiq (in black) collaborated with the National Kidney Foundation Singapore to develop a targeted community-based intervention programme to raise awareness about chronic kidney disease, which is projected to affect close to 900,000 people in Singapore by 2035.

Projek Ginjal: Raising awareness about kidney disease through an exhibition and novel urine test kit

Syafiq Bin Rahim's project was inspired by his late uncle, Mansor, who passed away in 2023 due to kidney-related complications. Mansor suffered from stage 4 chronic kidney failure and had to undergo permanent dialysis for six years until his passing.

Syafiq's personal experience of losing a loved one from this chronic condition, coupled with his rigorous Industrial Design training at the NUS College of Design and his passion for service design, gave him a unique perspective to identify where the possible locus of intervention could be.

After speaking to various experts and service providers to gather insights, he collaborated with the National Kidney Foundation Singapore to develop a targeted community outreach programme to raise awareness about the risk of kidney disease. He also worked with a senior consultant from a local hospital to design a user-friendly packaging for a urine test kit that can identify early signs of kidney disease.

His thesis project, called Projek Ginjal (which means 'kidney' in Malay), took the form of an exhibition that was user-tested and placed at two neighbourhood mosques. "The Malay community in Singapore has the highest rates of kidney disease due to hypertension, obesity, smoking and diabetes, so it is important that they are made aware of the risk factors and be vigilant," said Syafiq.

"Projek Ginjal was developed as a travelling exhibition that aimed to highlight the real risk of kidney disease. Visitors could self-administer a specially-designed, 2-minute urine test kit to check the health status of their kidneys."

"The mosque was chosen as a first step in engaging the Malay community as it is a place where they usually congregate. We can explore extending it to the wider public at community centres or housing estates in the future."

Syafiq believes that more user research is needed to shed light on the prevention and management of chronic conditions like kidney disease, and is contemplating further education to develop Projek Ginjal and other healthcare intervention strategies.