Design sciences

Needs driven design

Our research focuses on the following areas:

Innovative medical devices

How we can design systems that deliver products to market, improve human well-being and increase industrial competitiveness. We work with problem owners (such as medical practitioners) to identify and define design challenges and create innovative design responses driven from the problem and user need rather than technological perspectives. Our research in this area is built around the design challenges themselves and focusses on inputs to new product development processes.

Design for well-being

How can societal needs, such as those of an ageing population and affordable healthcare systems, be met through technology-driven design solutions. Participation in leisure activities and other activities of Daily Living is recognised as a key factor in maintaining physical and mental wellbeing and independence through older age. Issues related to personal mobility and other capabilities (eg, the Cambridge Inclusive Design capabilities) often result in reduced access and confidence which becomes a barrier to participation in independent leisure activities for many older adults and so fuels a vicious cycle of decline to physical inactivity and dependence. The goal of this research is to increase choices available to older adults for participation in independent activities of daily living by building detailed understandings of user needs using whole systems design thinking, processes and interventions to accommodate their lifelong mobility needs.

Our research specialisms span Cultural Studies, Branding and Marketing, Design Thinking, Mechanical Engineering, Psychology, Transport Studies, Electronic and Electrical Engineering and Ageing and Exercise Studies. We plan conducting a pilot study of perceptions and behaviours related to leisure activities in city centres with a specific focus on uncovering barriers to mobility and participation. The activity we plan undertaking falls under the programme lifelong health and wellbeing.

Participation in leisure activities is recognised as a key factor in maintaining physical and mental wellbeing and independence through older age. Perceived and real barriers to personal mobility result in reduced confidence, which affects participation in independent leisure activities for many older adults fuelling a vicious cycle of decline in physical inactivity and dependence. The outcomes from the study will generate economic, social, and health gains for an ageing population, local councils, policy makers, designers, and commercial establishments.

Research projects include:

We are currently carrying out a pilot studies to record and observe actual behaviour and to elicit the views of older adults in two case study domains: (1) retail and leisure and (2) exploring the city.

The primary data we collect will be analysed from an inter-disciplinary perspective to generate whole systems thinking around ageing, leisure activities, mobility and wellbeing for the two case study domains.

Our contribution to this area builds on the following projects:

  • SEEDS: An organic approach to virtual participatory design. A Design in the Digital World project (EPSRC) 2009-2011
  • My Exhibition: AHRC/EPSRC Designing for the 21st Century project: 'My Exhibition': Designing for Affective Communication, Personalisation and Social Experience AHRC/EPSRC 2006-2008
  • RAEng VP in Engineering Design for Sustainable Development 2003-2008.

Research team

For more information, please get in touch.

Professor Alison McKay
Professor Abbas Deghani
Dr Raymond Holt
Lisa-Dionne Morris