Your health belongs to us now… This may sound like a bold statement; who are we to claim you? Yet, with current societal developments it may soon become reality. An aging population already puts a burden on our healthcare systems. We simply cannot afford to have more unhealthy people walking around. When the system overloads, we all experience its consequences one way or another. Services go down or prices will rise.
Health insurance companies are already developing solutions. They focus on lifestyle-related factors. You are smoking? Your Body Mass Index is higher than 27,5? No problem, but you are forced to pay additional fees. Is this really progress? It might reprimand the most vulnerable people in our society.
Sure, it remains the responsibility of an individual to stay healthy. We may design products/services to support individual healthy behavior. Still, as a designer looking around me I see objects that motivate us to stay passive. Take waiting rooms for example; the energy drains out of you while sitting in uncomfortable chairs. Another example is the escalator. An excellent product enabling everyone (young and old) to be mobile. Yet it also stimulates perfectly healthy people to be inactive.
I propose a persuasive shift from 3D towards 4D thinking. Let us consider how people interact with spaces and products over time. In this I see a possible synergy with human-powered systems, which give a valuable contribution to the sustainability issue. Waiting rooms that power the operating room? Escalators that power the tube? There is no need for heavy physical exercise, when we perform continuous throughout the day. Apart from visual aesthetics we should further develop our kinetic aesthetics. These things would truly re-imagine our daily surroundings and potentially decrease the burden.
As designers we have the opportunity to design healthy experiences into everyday situations and everyday objects. Let us start putting movement into our design DNA and start making a fluid extension of healthcare in our everyday lives.