'Improving people’s lives with products that they actually want or need, that’s what I want to do.'
"I have always been a people person. During my Bachelor’s in Creative Technology at the University of Twente, there was a module about interaction design in which we worked together with children. My team members and I came up with a game and to test this, we invited a group of children to UT’s DesignLab. It was so much fun and inspiring to see how they reacted and what they liked and disliked about our concept. That was when I realised that this is what I want to do: improving people’s lives with products that they actually want or need.
I decided to follow up with a Master’s in Industrial Design Engineering (IDE), with the Master’s track in Human Technology Relations. To be admitted into the Master’s, I had to do a pre-master of 6 months and it was totally worth it. I couldn’t be happier with my choice to study IDE.
Countering loneliness amongst the elderly
In the Master’s track in Human Technology Relations you really put people first in designing and developing products. During my Master’s, I focused a lot on co-designing. This way you actually get to work together with possible users to get as close as possible to something they want or need. And in that, you also get the chance to have a social impact. For example, in my Master’s assignment I tried to come up with a solution to counter loneliness amongst the elderly. We worked together with the local newspaper to find respondents and we held co-design sessions with some of them.
It was so interesting to listen to their stories and also surprising because you’re not always aware of the problems they’re facing. One of the outcomes was that they often lack a support system after they lose their partners. They miss someone to come home to and talk to and they often feel a threshold in calling their children, for example, because they don’t want to disturb them. In the end, we came up with a lamp that’s connected to an app. You can’t turn on the lights yourself, but your loved one – the one who has the app on their phone – can. This way, a son can let his mother know that he’s thinking of her for example. This way, the threshold of calling someone becomes lower.
What I love about this Master’s is that you actually get to dig deeper into what people really want or need. It’s not just about what people say they want, because they are often not aware of this as well, but you really try to find the underlying thoughts.
I realised I like studying this field so much, that I decided to follow up my Master’s with a PhD. In this, I will continue co-designing with the elderly to develop products that will support healthy and active ageing. I find it really fulfilling to help improve people’s lives and I want to keep doing that. In the end, I hope I can become a researcher and lecturer at UT."