As co-founder and creative lead behind Carin, Julia (30) shares her enthusiasm for the potential impact of using design within healthcare and technology. This topic she began exploring during her Social Design MA at Design Academy Eindhoven with her project ‘Just Another Garment’. The concept of protective underwear has translated into Carin. Here is her interesting journey of bringing design and technology together to improve the lives of women.
Welcome to my blog debut in which I will take the opportunity to explore the role of design within healthcare products and systems. Big topic! During my masters I was inspired by a family member struggling with urine loss. I decided to focus on this key problem of daily life that can negatively impact mental well-being and quality of life. It was the realization that practical solutions exist in the form of adult diapers. But these ‘solutions’ do nothing to address the emotional side of this common problem.
Re-designing an experience
As a result I developed washable protective underwear for women suffering from mild incontinence. This questioned how designers could re-design the experience of an aid and how it contributes to a person’s well-being. The rest is history! Although a significant taboo, the project resonated with people and resulted in nominations such as Social Design Award, exhibitions around the world and awarded the prestigious New Material Award for my project ‘Just Another Garment’.
Building a company combining design and health
Inspired by the public reaction, I realized the importance taking the project ‘Just Another Garment’ beyond a prototype and really making the idea happen. Valer Pop and Mitsugu Yoneyama felt the same way. They were developing a technology to help women overcome urine loss at Holst Centre located at the innovative High Tech Campus. After a chance introduction we decided to bring our ideas together and in July 2015 LifeSense Group was born. A tech and design startup, we now create wearables for healthcare applications.
Challenging the everyday
It is an exciting time to be exploring the role design can have in healthcare. The doctor-patient role is being challenged by new technologies. For example, how often have you found yourself asking Google for advice with something along the lines of ‘allergic reaction to nuts’? We now have more tools available that make us more aware about conditions or early signs. Wearables such as the FitBit that quantify our everyday and provide a mirror for our inner selves. These are new healthcare tools that are changing our everyday behaviour, perceptions and relationships.
The role of women in healthcare and technology
Personally I think it is necessary that women enter the field of technology and healthcare. Women have a different perspective and experience in everyday life. We are able to bring up new solutions. But for this to happen we need more women in the fields of healthcare and technology. As a designer and technology entrepreneur, I started to contribute to improve women’s lives with Carin.