WHAT’S HAPPENING IN ‘DESIGN TO IMPROVE LIFE’ RIGHT NOW?

Over 1,400 designs, from 85 countries, across five categories and addressing 22 goals. What’s trending among the INDEX: Award 2017 nominations? Here’s our quick sum up.

The BODY category (329 nominations) has taken healthcare to a new level this year with a number of visionary products and technologies. Just to name a few: micro-implants to restore movement and fertility, AI for drug exploration/outbreak detection and programs for gene editing. Interactive and reactive textiles: some that behave like real skin, others to control your devices, and various exo-skeleton garments or ‘soft robots’ designed to improve mobility. Other notable trends include female contraception and wearables for air purification. And like past years, we saw numerous devices for remote diagnostics and products to address lifestyle illnesses like diabetes. Top three goals addressed: Good Health and Well-being; Responsible Consumption & Production and No Poverty. Click here to browse all BODY nominations.

HOME (229 nominations) is a controversial category this year thanks to the introduction of AI. Whether you find digital assistants clever or just plain creepy, the trend is bigger than ever and certainly here to stay. And of course, you can’t have smart without sustainable. This year’s focus is on innovative building materials – including seaweed and algae to name a few – and new ways to integrate energy harvesting capabilities, like solar, into existing home features. Once again, we observed a clear focus on making homes cheaper, smaller and with the ability to go off-grid. Other notable trends include housing for millennials, home devices designed to harvest water from thin air (atmospheric water generators) and designs inspired by origami. Top three goals addressed: Responsible Consumption & Production; Affordable & Clean Energy and Refugees & Migrants. Click here to browse all HOME nominations.

In WORK (170 nominations) automation and robotics has a clear growing influence, especially within the agriculture industry. We also see a large focus on designs to contribute to a smart shipping and trucking industry. Other interesting movements include fintech solutions to improve economic access and transparency, initiatives to boost work opportunities for minorities and sustainable/ethical business models. Like past years, we also see a growth in clean energy solutions, drones for good and cutting-edge production methods. Top three goals addressed: Decent Work & Economic Growth; Industry; Innovation & Infrastructure and Balance Human & Artificial Intelligence. Click here to browse all WORK nominations.

PLAY & LEARNING (222 nominations) comprise various designs tapping into AI, mostly for adaptive learning: the technique of using AI to develop lessons based on the unique needs and strengths of the student. We also see various nominations using VR for empathy, apps to improve mindfulness and, in stark contrast, various solutions geared towards the ‘digital detox’. The trend of gamification to help solve challenges and advance research is still prevalent, this year’s notable ‘kits’ cover chemistry, mathematics and space exploration. Tapping into the genius of kids is a priority again this year, but this time, we’re teaching them to code from as young as three! Top three goals addressed: Quality Education; Balance Human & Artificial Intelligence and Partnerships for the Goals. Click here to browse all PLAY & LEARNING nominations.

In COMMUNITY (451 nominations) there are various blockchain-based solutions for finance, security and energy optimisation. We also see a prevalence in chatbots for learning and legal help, tech initiatives to help refugees, and programs to foster young entrepreneurs. Interesting environmental solutions include aeroponics – where crops are grown with little to no resource inputs – new-aged ‘aspirational’ eco-villages and closed-loop initiatives to track and control the plastic life cycle. There are also numerous new battery technologies and varied solutions looking into nuclear energy ‘for good’. Finally, the known trend of micro-loans has sprouted a relatively new focus: micro-insurance. Top three goals addressed: Life On Land; Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure and Affordable & Clean Energy. Click here to browse all COMMUNITY nominations.

Our jury members will soon begin the HUGE task of reviewing the designs to find the strongest contenders. The INDEX: Award 2017 finalists will be disclosed mid-year, and our winners will be announced at an official ceremony on September 1st. STAY TUNED!

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