For 12 years now, the Warm Hearth Village (WHV) staff and residents have helped Virginia Tech’s Industrial Design Department Senior Living Studio class create products designed to improve living independently for seniors
Each fall, teams of students meet with village residents to find out what tools could make their lives easier and aid them in their homes. The teams then return to the studio to design prototypes of the products they have decided to create. Everyone meets again, and residents give feedback on concepts and prototypes. In the final step, teams formally present the finished designs at Warm Hearth Village. Due to the pandemic restrictions, the meetings and the final presentation for the last two years have been via Zoom.
This year’s projects included an illuminated bedside handle to help people in and out of bed while providing light to prevent falls, a bracelet that provides reminders and connects with family via an app to ensure pills are taken and appointments are met, a pill manager and dispensing device, a digital tile smart puzzle, a virtual window that displays scenes designed for those with dementia to help combat sundowning, an indoor gardening station that provides a common space for gardening year-round in a community setting, a reengineered cane, and a collapsible, lightweight shopping cart.
Warm Hearth Village is a nonprofit senior living community in Blacksburg that provides a full continuum of living options on its campus and in the home.