Virginia Tech Industrial Design Students and SFCS Continue Work To Keep Seniors Living Independently

November 29, 2021

This is the 12th year Warm Hearth Village (WHV) staff and residents have helped Virginia Tech’s Industrial Design Department Senior Living Studio class to create products designed to improve living independently for seniors. SFCS Architects Senior Living Design, a Roanoke-based architectural firm sponsors the project. 

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’ve 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 WHV. Due to the pandemic restrictions, the last two years meetings and the final presentation 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, appointments are met, etc., 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 sun downing, an indoor gardening station that provides a common space for gardening year-round in a community setting, a reengineered cane, and a collapsible, light-weight shopping cart.

Brad Dalton, President & CEO of WHV has enjoyed seeing this project first-hand and looks forward to fostering student and resident engagement through this and other programs with local universities.