Reading Time: 5 min | May 2021

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Enrich Your Life with Holistic Human-Centered Solutions

The designers and manufacturers of this year’s iF DESIGN AWARD have a sharp eye for putting the user first. Their human-centered designs solve real-world problems for people.

Making people’s lives easier with practical yet beautiful designs is one of the highest goals for designers. And it is precisely in times of crisis that practical solutions are more in demand than ever before. The corona pandemic is probably the best example of our society’s demand to innovate as quickly as possible to stop exponential growth in the numbers of citizens infected by the virus – after all, health and economic systems can collapse under a virus spread easily.

So how do you innovate quickly and appropriately when people’s behavior and expectations are changing fast and much? Human-centered design offers a solution: It’s a "user first" approach, a design process mindset that is based on an explicit understanding of needs, motivation and problems which people experience in everyday life. This year’s edition of the iF DESIGN AWARD offers a wide range of products and projects across disciplines and categories that boost holistic human-centered designs.


The Fifth-Generation Waymo Driver | Manufacturer: Waymo, Mountain View, United States
This self-driving technology includes three sensing technologies (lidar, cameras, and radar), and features 360-degree vision, with cameras that can see up to 500 meters away. The result is a highly capable and safe driver that can power multiple vehicle platforms, from SUVs to class 8 trucks, across various use cases, including ride-hailing and goods delivery.
Motion Pillow | Manufacturer: 10minds Co., Ltd., Seoul, South Korea
This 'moving anti-snoring pillow' is equipped with airbags that gently change the sleeping position without disturbing sleep, and a smart solution box that operates the airbags by learning from the user's snoring sounds. It has an ergonomic C-curve design to comfortably support the cervical spine, and the pillow height is also designed to be adjustable according to individual preferences.
UNAwheel Maxi | Manufacturer: SupremeMotors, Moscow, Russia
The UNAwheel Maxi device has an adjustable steering wheel and a replaceable battery and is designed as an add-on for conventional wheelchairs. The steering section is made from a combination of metal (hydroforming/cutting technology) and plastic (injection molding), the handles are made of rubber, and the main body of plastic (RIM).
Neck Cooler | Manufacturer: FUJITSU GENERAL LIMITED, Kawasaki, Japan
This wearable mobile cooling and heating device uses Peltier technology. Its main purpose is to reduce the risk of heatstroke in hot environments. In summer it cools the blood flowing through the neck to lower the core body temperature, minimizing the decline in brain function, and maintaining the worker’s concentration. In winter it warms the neck and improves blood flow to eliminate body chilling.
GlucoStick | Manufacturer: Compal Electronics Inc., Taipei City, Taiwan
GlucoStick revolutionizes diabetes tracking by retaining all the monitoring conveniences of continuous glucose monitors, but reuses a sterilizable lancing stick where users merely twist on new, replacement lancets before each use, thereby reducing the amount of bio-hazardous waste generated and at a fraction of traditional glucose meters with test strips.
miniJ H1 | Manufacturer: Ningbo Xiaoji Electronic Commerce, Ningbo, China
The miniJ H1 applies electrolysis to produce ozone to generate disinfection water, which is highly efficient and non-polluting. Within 3 minutes, it can fully sterilize and disinfect food or food utensils. Its retro appearance with a cheese white color scheme gives it a user-friendly appearance, while the classic round runway screen design is stylish and technical.
OMRON NightView HEM-9601T-E3 | Manufacturer: OMRON HEALTHCARE Co., Ltd., Kyoto, Japan
This wrist blood pressure monitor automatically measures a patient's blood pressure while they sleep. It conforms to the wrist, minimizing stress and enhancing comfort when worn. The design ensures that it does not move around while sleeping, contributing to improved measurement precision.
Infinite Circle | Manufacturer: LAST ULTRAVIOLET, Seoul, South Korea
Infinite Circle is a sterilization concept for e-mobility devices. It forms a straight incision in the pipe inside the mobility handle, so the handle rubber belt covered the outer rotate in and out infinitely. The inside of UV-C LED effectively sterilizes the contaminated outer belt. The design is also very similar to existing handles, and as such is convenient for users.
Intelligent Mobility Scooter | Manufacturer: Beijing Robint Technology Co., Ltd., Beijing City, China
This intelligent mobility scooter incorporates futuristic technology elements and user-friendly design, aiming to enhance the user's confidence and comfort in travel. Mecanum omnidirectional wheels with a small turning radius and good obstacle-crossing capacity allow the product to move freely in confined space and ensure user safety.
XA5 | Manufacturer: Guangzhou ShiRui Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., Guangzhou, China
The XA5 is a convenient travel option for people with limited mobility. Unlike its traditional counterparts, the streamlined XA5 creates a feeling of lightness and vitality that appeals to the user. With an ingenious detachable, folding mechanism, it can be broken down into two modules of equal weight, easy to carry and pack into the trunk of your car.
DAS NOVAFON | Manufacturer: Novafon GmbH, Weinstadt, Germany
This is a vibration therapy device mainly used by speech therapists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists to treat symptoms of several pathologies. Its deep vibrotactile stimulation helps to regulate muscle tone, reduce myofascial pain and improve motion sequences. The shape of the product and the slight contrast of the push button will provide intuitive control to the user.
Ainos Flora | Manufacturer: Ainos Inc., Zhunan Township, Miaoli County, Taiwan
Ainos Flora is a portable testing device for vaginal infection and sexually transmitted diseases. In one minute, Ainos Flora tells you if you are infected, and the likely pathogen causing the infection. It allows fast, comfortable and discreet tests and the tests can be stored in the Ainos mobile app or digitally stored in the cloud.
Hydroxyl Aura | Manufacturer: Hydroxyl Technologies Limited, Bristol, United Kingdom
Aura is a wearable personal air purifier that provides revolutionary protection to users. Airborne contamination both from pathogens and pollution is a growing concern. Clean, pure air is especially important for people with asthma and respiratory conditions. Aura uses revolutionary patented technology to generate Hydroxyl radicals that create a cloud of clean, sterile air in front of a user's face.
NAVER eXpert | Manufacturer: NAVER Corporation, Apollo CIC, Seongnam-si, South Korea
This online platform gives you the opportunity to get counseling and lessons from verified experts in real time. The experts organize the services themselves and select a reasonable price for their counseling session. Users then select the counseling or lesson that best suits them, and are provided with high-quality and professional online services, contact-free.
Signia Active Pro | Manufacturer: WS Audiology, Erlangen, Germany
Traditional hearing aids often carry a stigma and are perceived as a sign of old age. This means that many people who would benefit greatly from a hearing aid are not willing to even try one. Signia has created a compelling solution to help people overcome this psychological hurdle.
Rubik’s Cube | Manufacturer: JOMOO Kitchen & Bath Co., Ltd., Fujian, China
This shower system's extremely simple and ultra-thin design and its sleek surface finish create a sense of elegance. The large button panel facilitates visual and easy operation. The modular design enables a variety of optional combinations to meet the personalized needs of users. Constant temperature control guarantees safety and reliability.

The awarded designers and manufacturers have a sharp eye for not just only innovative but readily acceptable solutions. They are driven by the idea to satisfy customers in a way that when people leave a product a positive “human” experience should remain and they should tell their friends and family about it. In the end, this approach leads to a better product that solves relevant problems for people through which they built trust and loyality in this brand.

There has been a strong shift from analog to digital, particularly in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which is likely to stay. The number of technology users increased throughout all age groups due to social distancing and containment measurements. Future-oriented designs that are practical during this time of the pandemic, when hygiene is of essence, are small gadgets such as the "miniJ H1" disinfection device and the "Infinite circle" , a sterilization concept that lets you disinfect the surface of an e-scooter.

Companies are already investing vast amounts of money to bring tomorrow's technology to the world. As a result, expectations for inventions are high, and the tolerance level for physical workarounds decreases. Human-centered designs deliver hybrid solutions and may save time and money in many cases. Particularly in the view of tensions between people and health systems, innovative technology eliminate the need for lengthy health tests and elaborate procedures. Take, for example, the "OMRON NightView" blood pressure monitor: a minimal device that takes away the stress of an otherwise uncomfortable night. When human-centered designs can even stigmatization and isolation, a lot has been achieved for patients. For instance, the gold awarded "Female Brace" is a medical brace that helps teenage girls with pectus carinatum correct their posture for better physical and mental health.


Female Brace | Manufacturer: R&D Surgical Ltd., Cardiff, United Kingdom
Uncomfortable, activity-limiting, and difficult to wear, current devices for people suffering from pectus carinatum are difficult to disguise, driving feelings of isolation and stigmatization. Female Brace, designed specifically for the teenage female form, fits discreetly beneath clothing and uses contemporary materials and mechanisms to create a more comfortable, clinically effective, and discrete solution.
YURI induction urinal | Manufacturer: ARROW Home Group Inc., Foshan, China
This urinal is composed of flat and curved surfaces plus the integral molding surface has no gaps, enabling cleaning staff to work faster. The blue self-cleaning glaze used on the surface of the porcelain body has a good antibacterial effect and makes it easy to clean. A sterilization module has been added to the flushing system to sterilize and deodorize the porcelain bowl, optimizing the sanitary environment of public toilets and bringing users peace of mind.
E-PIT Ultra-fast Charger | Manufacturer: Hyundai Motor Corporation, Seoul, South Korea
The E-PIT ultra-fast charger greatly improves user experience, by solving six problems typically found in current EV chargers: 1) bulky cables; 2) complicated operation and service use; 3) unclear charging status; 5) hygiene (especially important in the context of a pandemic); and 6) production and maintenance.
Tdot | Manufacturer: KUNYOONG IBC Co., Ltd., Seoul, South Korea
Existing braille keyboards for the visually impaired were heavy and expensive, making them uncomfortable to use. This product combines excellent portability with light weight and reduced width of the keyboard. Made with 12 input keys and 1 jog wheel, it is dedicated to boosting the navigating function that allows users to type faster and more conveniently.

While intelligent technology and impeccable design are crucial, safety always comes first. Especially in the area of mobility , there’s a significant disadvantage for elderly and disabled people. Enhancing users’ confidence so they can go about their daily lives with peace of mind is what human-centered design is all about. Among the many exciting products featuring futuristic elements is the "UNAwheel Maxi" , a wheelchair power add-on that makes it easier for disabled people to navigate. It also features a welcoming modern and sleek look. Steering entirely away from the usual design of a wheelchair is the "Intelligent Mobility Scooter" . Every day, we face many challenges –  holistic, human-centered solutions meet our most pressing needs while enriching our lives.


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