Opportunity Knocks: Designing Solutions for an Ageing Society

Jul 14, 2015 | REPORTS

This report, which highlights the vital role of good design, technology and innovation, is a collaboration between the ILC-UK, the IET and the University of Cambridge’s Engineering Design Centre.

The OBR warns that without technological innovation over the next decade, health spending in 2063-64 might need to be 5.0 % of GDP higher than currently projected. Moreover, given that the over 65s in the UK spend around £2.2 billion per week, rising to a projected £6 billion per week (£312 billion per annum) by 2037, a design response to ageing can also benefit UK plc.

Opportunity Knocks: Designing Solutions for an Ageing Society sets out the changes needed in current approaches to ensure we harness the full benefits of design and technology.

  • We need to design for inclusivity.
  • We need to better engage with older people to ensure they maximise the benefit of new technology
  • We must engage industry to better respond to the opportunity of the older consumer.

This report also highlights a range of ideas for new technology which emerged from a workshop organised in May 2015.  The ideas, designed not as “solutions to ageing” but to highlight the potential for innovation in focussing on this consumer group, include:

  • A kettle which monitors blood pressure
  • TV buddies to allow people to remotely share the experience of watching a programme.
  • A ‘cuddle cushion’ which would allow relatives being able to send each other cuddles
  • A smart water bottle which would prompt people to drink more to prevent dehydration
  • Accessible and modern “Boris Scooters” (or Segways) in towns and cities to help people with mild mobility impairments get around


Authors: David Sinclair and Helen Creighton