Most of the time, engineers design and build new things. Some of them are designing old stuff. Engineering for people as we age. Today, on Engineering Works!
When we think about the future, the idea most people have involves young people doing new things. But this isn’t quite a true picture. If you look at the numbers, the future is going to belong to older people. The UN says more than 700 million people over 60 are alive on earth now. And by 2050, there will be two billion that age. Just in the United States, more than one person in 10 is over 65 now. In 20 years, that will grow to 20 percent of the population.
These numbers have big implications for the things we use in everyday life. Everything from labels that are easy to read with aging eyes to cars with controls that are easy to see and easy to reach.
Some engineers are thinking about what this means for designing new products. They’re using specially equipped cars to learn how older people’s eyes move around the dashboard and out the windshield in different driving situations. Others are looking into nifty gadgets like scanners that might combine grocery shoppers’ medical information with information scanned from food packages to suggest healthy choices.
Part of what the engineers are learning is how to get engineers in their 20s and 30s to think about products as if they were 65.
We’re getting older every minute, and we’re done for this time.
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