IDEO: Designing Human-Centered Solutions

The 2017 BIE cohort with the host, Dr. Farzad Azimpour

On July 6, 2017, the BIE cohort visited IDEO at its Palo Alto location. IDEO was founded in 1991 when three friends, David Kelley, Bill Moggridge, and Mike Nuttall, aimed to tackle Steve Jobs’ question: can we make an easily manufacturable and commercially available mouse to complement the new Apple Lisa? They developed exactly that, with human-centered design as the core focus. IDEO continues to create human-centered solutions that empower the affected communities.

Our host Dr. Azimpour gives a background of the company

Our host, Dr. Farzad Azimpour, is a biodesigner and cardiologist. He gave us a tour of the facility, pausing to explain any of the projects that were on display such as Faraday’s Bike, the Node Chair, and insulin injection pens. Because Palo Alto has a team dedicated to healthcare, we saw an array of medical devices designed for improving patients’ experiences. Many of the displays highlighted the progression of the prototypes, starting from cheap and simple early prototypes to refined final products.

Dr. Azimpour also gave us a presentation outlining IDEO’s core design process, which always revolves around human centered design–inspiration, ideation, and execution. The BIE students learned about the various ways a professional designer may translate an insight into an opportunity to address a validated need in the world. IDEO addresses fields from healthcare, technology, education, and more.

Current prototype of LA County’s new voting device. IDEO hopes to have the final device ready by the 2018 general elections.

We finished the visit by observing the company’s latest project, a whole new voting system to address Los Angeles’ voting problems. Los Angeles is currently the nation’s largest voting jurisdiction but faces extremely low voter turnout due to the city’s antiquated voting system. The LA County hired IDEO to create a device to address the numerous challenges all kinds of voters face on voting day. IDEO’s modular voting unit accommodates all kinds of disabilities such as those who are vision, hearing, or physically impaired, while being environmentally and spatially effective. Overall, we learned about the importance of considering human interaction when designing everyday items as well as medical devices. To learn more about IDEO’s past and upcoming projects, visit their website here.