Since March of last year, the world has changed. We were all consumed by the global pandemic of COVID-19. Suddenly, we had a big challenge that we designers could impact.
Design is powerful. It can motivate people to act. It can inspire products that simplify and enrich our lives, that create entirely new experiences.
In recent history, we have often relied on behavioral changes driven by emerging technology as the primary source of innovation opportunities. However, the global pandemic of COVID-19 has shown us all that it is not just technology that changes the world. Public health emergencies have the same potential to alter social norms, purchasing behaviors and long-entrenched business models.
Behaviors that were once understood as natural are now being questioned. Do we have to attend certain places in person? Can we have online relationships that are as meaningful as physical ones?
Even with the uncertainty, it is our duty as designers to explore what is likely to change the course of human experience and what new opportunities for innovation may arise.
Product design is an incredibly powerful tool in the fight against COVID. From 3D printed face masks to contagion tracking apps. The ingenuity and innovation exhibited by designers and engineers from around the world have underscored that the design process in the real world is perfectly applicable.
How has product design been affected by COVID?
Simple human instincts have had to be set aside in favor of new and very cautious approaches to shared environments, touching surfaces and even breathing the same air.
For example, in the current situation we can no longer freely exchange items, come into contact with equipment used by strangers or even touch everyday objects as simple as handrails, doorknobs and elevator buttons.
However, let’s not forget that with the explosion of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, voice recognition or sensor technology, we can operate and thrive through innovative product design.
Innovations and technologies that have come to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic include:
Video communication via Zoom, Teams, Skype, etc.
IoT (Internet of Things) development such as remote heating and lighting control.
Online shopping and home delivery.
Touchless sanitary facilities such as temperature tapping, faucets, soap dispensers and dryers.
Use of drones.
In the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists and designers began working to make hospitals safer. Early protective innovations included a 3D-printed universal door opener that can be opened with the forearm and, of course, all kinds of protective masks and screens.
Of particular note was the creation of Oxyvita respirators. This is one of the lowest cost ICU respirators on the market. Its assembly and use are so simple that they do not require high specialization and the patent of its design is open.
At Idea strategic firm we have also contributed to the design and development of products that help to take precautions and stop the spread of COVID-19.
You will surely have seen LOSDI soap dispensers in countless public spaces. They are one of the basic solutions to ensure hygiene; they are also essential for our new normal. The Paris series soap dispenser and the «Star» range were born from our collaboration with the benchmark in the industrial hygiene sector, LOSDI. Learn more about one of these projects.
«Necessity is the mother of invention,» and times of crisis have given rise to some of the most important inventions in history.