Intelligent clothing for the ageing body. The pursuit of a design method


The extension of life that medical science and technology have assured mankind in the last century is an unprecedented achievement, a success of delicate administration for social policies worldwide. Life expectancy is increasing, and so is the demand for long-term health care. Starting from the original principle of bio-extension (temporal, anatomical, qualitative), the research introduces in its first part (also through field observation) an overview of the natural and pathological disorders of ageing and the social strategies to cope with them. Thus, it proceeds to examine the technological innovations (prosthetic, handheld, wearable) that in the past and to date have compensated for the human body’s capabilities. It compares those in production and under study that keep serving the purpose by adapting to the demographic change, changing themselves, becoming more and more intelligent and more adherent to the no longer young bodies that they are designed to assist.

Once offered a projection of what their evolution would be (already underway, but for the most part still to be accomplished) toward a full-functional symbiosis with the human they dress, the analysis returns to focus on present day and the central consideration of the thesis: what it means—and, mainly, what it implies—to design for, around, on (if not even inside) a body in pain. The research ends with the third section: the drafting of the design guidelines for researchers who want to commit to the same field, and the assembly report of a prototype meant not as a finished industrial product but rather an additional (three-dimensional) platform for future studies. The implementation aims to answer to one of the central research questions (how Design Science, at its state of the art, can be applied to rehabilitative therapies for the elderly at risk) and will finally clarify the contribution that the thesis intends to bring to Design Science and the material culture of the product. And, more specifically, to the field of Gerontechnology.



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Impact case study

Institution details

School of Doctorate Studies

Design Science