Before the conference kicked off, teams of students and professional designers were recognized for their masterful designs at the International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). With a record-breaking 1,872 entries, this year’s competition was fierce. Two designs submitted by students at Umeå Institute of Design caught our eye:
- Gold Winner, Student Designs: WIM – an interactive stroke therapy device. Outfitted with a tracking armband, this non-stigmatizing training kit improves patients’ fine-motor skills using a variety of lights, sounds and vibrations; provides advanced personalized therapy; and allows for continuous communication between a patient and therapist during recovery – all from the comfort of a patient’s home.
Thanks to its impact strength and transparency, a polycarbonate material was selected for the outer shell of this spherical tool, so it can handle daily wear & tear while allowing the LED lights to shine through. Other materials used include a silicone strap for flexibility, a soft yet durable jersey fabric and a polyurethane foam covered in viscose for the inside of the armband.
- Silver Winner, Student Designs: Miko – a professional welding robot for small-scale metal workshops. As a labor-intensive profession, welding benefits from automation – yet this has only been implemented in larger facilities. With always-changing workstations, varying tasks and a limited number of employees, small-scale workshops call for a flexible, easy-to-operate solution. Miko tackles these challenges – helping users avoid exposure health risks and increasing efficiency by completing a job while the welder plans for the next one.
This innovation is made possible with indoor triangulation and image recognition technologies that allow work paths to be easily programmed by someone who does not have prior programming experience. Because of its mobility, Miko can easily move around workstations, rather than being fixed to the floor like traditional industrial robots.
The awards were an inspirational kick-off to the annual conference, which gave the Covestro team a glimpse into how technology is impacting the future of design. This evolution is especially evident in healthcare – an industry in which materials and design play an important role in the development of medical devices, and connected wearables and systems for patients, doctors and other medical professionals. In the show’s Design Gallery, we demonstrated what’s possible when aesthetics meet materials.
Designers talked about how they are integrating groundbreaking design features and finishes while focusing on connectivity, customization and collaboration. Data was another hot topic, with conversations around how it can be used to create easy-to-understand outputs and graphics, modify behaviors and improve patient outcomes. The show also centered around the importance of the human element in design, such as taking a humanistic approach to innovating for women and tapping into the potential of technology to drive human connection.
Still feeling inspired by the IDSA International Design Conference, we turned our attention to SHYFT Design + Innovation, which took place just one week later. We noticed many synergies between the two events, with integration and collaboration a focus of both. The day was full of thought-provoking presentations that stressed the importance of thinking big – really big (like manufacturing in space, big!) in order to bring about game-changing innovation.
Both conferences gave the Covestro team valuable insights into how designers are approaching their work in a technological age. With materials that are pushing boundaries in automotive, healthcare, electronics and many other industries, we’re energized to continue collaborating with designers to advance the future of design.