The healthcare sector is under pressure. There is a vital role for both designers and engineers to provide concrete new solutions to help tackle increasingly difficult challenges. Warm technology is a perspective for design that puts people first, in particular, people living with dementia.
Currently, more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide. Dementia is a syndrome – usually of a chronic or progressive nature – that leads to deterioration in cognitive functioning beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of ageing. Dementia is distressing for everyone who must deal with it. The associated cognitive changes can have a significant impact on day-to-day communication, making participation in social interactions increasingly challenging.
With warm technology, the focus is put on improving the quality of life and wellbeing of people with dementia. In this concept, technology is used as a means, not a goal. The technology is developed not only for, but together with, people with dementia and their environment. Warm technology ensures that the needs of both the people needing and providing care are met, thus enabling a positive transformation in health.
Dr. Rens Brankaert is an assistant professor of active and healthy ageing, with a specific interest in dementia. As part of the systemic change group in TU/e’s Department of Industrial Design,. he set up and leads the TU/e expertise center for Dementia & Technology. He approaches technology design from a person-centered perspective and is interested in the impact of design on the various stakeholders and organizations in healthcare. Earlier this year, he was awarded the Young Outstanding Researcher Award by the Alzheimer Nederland foundation.