Old age is not new, but integrating the demands of older consumers into the design process for products that are fun and fashionable is new to business. Aging is far more than disease and disability - it is life tomorrow. Only recently have businesses begun to realize that aging is not just another market for health and assistive technology but an opportunity to invent a lifestyle. Making their products usable and accessible as well as exciting and novel for older consumers is not just good to do, but good business.
The MIT AgeLab works with businesses around the world to innovate life tomorrow. Collaborating with consumer packaged goods firms, food manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, clothing and footwear companies, retailers, automobile design and engineering teams, consumer electronics companies, architects and others the AgeLab has developed numerous methods and analysis techniques to provide insights into consumer behavior, design and engineering across industries.
Not Abbey Road Just Mass Ave & MIT AgeLab's AGNES
AGNES, MIT AgeLab's Age Gain Now Empathy System is one method to give students, researchers, company marketing, design and engineering teams a personal opportunity for that 'aha moment'. The moment that provides inspiration to invent the usable without losing the cool.
Focus groups are valuable to understand consumer language. Surveys are powerful to reveal attitudes. Product clinics provide insight. But tools that give even a brief glimpse into the daily work of older consumers to those who know what technology and elegant design can achieve enable the power to innovate - to excite and delight the consumer, not simply respond to what they articulate as their needs. I suspect we would still be waiting for the Internet to be invented if we limited our imagination to only traditional research methods to understand consumer behavior.
MIT AgeLab's Roz Puleo, Lisa D'Ambrosio and AGNES are featured in Fast Company Magazine'sFebruary 2011 issue. My friend's and colleague's cutting edge thinking on consumer behavior, design and the new tools of innovation for an aging society make a good (and fun) read.