Graduate students Ani Abgaryan, Kayvan Mojtahedzadeh gain national acclaim for their designs

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Design and Industry Department is represented with two of the seven finalists in the Stanford University Center on Longevity’s inaugural Design Challenge, creating products that will help adults suffering from dementia.

Graduate student Kayvan Mojtahedzadeh’s ThermoRing is a plastic ring that is placed around an electric stove burner. It warns people that the burner is on by changing color from black to red.

“Kitchen fires and burns are, of course, a significant safety concern for people with dementia and their families,” Richard Eisenberg writes in an article in Forbes about the competition. “Fear of fire accidents is actually a common reason why the elderly are moved into assisted living centers.”

Mojtahedzadeh also recently won SF State’s $5,000 Hearth Homes Inclusive Design Scholarship.

Graduate student Ani Abgaryan devised the engaging gaming experience Confage after growing frustrated that she was unable to teach her grandmother how to read or write text messages on her mobile phone. Confage shows people with memory and hand-motorics issues the main gestures needed to use touch-screen devices.

Both Mojtahedzadeh and Abgaryan first developed their products in graduate-level classes taught by Professor Ricardo Gomes.

All of the challenge’s seven finalists will receive $1,000 and mentorship from corporate sponsors to help them refine their ideas before the finals, to be held in April at Stanford. At the event, representatives from each team will present their final designs to judges, industry representatives and investors. The first-prize winner will receive $10,000, with $5,000 and $2,000 going to second and third place, respectively.

“Each of these designs takes a very different approach to addressing the unmet needs of people with cognitive impairment, yet all of these ideas have the potential to be adopted on a large scale,” says Stephen Johnston, co-founder of Aging 2.0, which collaborated with Stanford on the challenge.

The competition challenges students around the world to submit designs on ways to help individuals, caregivers and families affected by cognitive impairment to remain independent.

“The scale and scope of the response to our very first challenge was exciting for us,” says Ken Smith, the Center on Longevity’s director of mobility. “We received submissions from 52 teams from 31 universities in 15 countries that represented a wide range of both applications and disciplines.”

A team of 12 experts from academia, industry and cognition-related nonprofits judged the challenge.

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