Innovative solutions to support BSR enterprises in product development aimed at raising comfort and safety of seniors home living
BaltSe@nioR
 
PROGRAMME 2014-2020
priority
1 Innovation
objective
1.3 Non-technological innovation

BaltSe@nioR

In this Interreg project, furniture manufacturers, designers, architectures and other experts gain knowledge about the senior’s needs and preferences in order to win a competitive edge in designing customised and smart products for seniors, and by this to improve their quality of life.
The opportunity

Insufficient market placement for seniors

Although almost 20% of the EU population is 65 years old or more, the market for furniture adapted to the seniors’ needs is still fragmented. At the same time, there are great design traditions in the Baltic Sea region: the furniture industry develops here five times faster than in other part of the EU. Germany and Poland are among the world’s leaders in producing and exporting furniture; together with Sweden, these countries also rank high in the industrial design.

Yet, owners of furniture companies have little understanding and knowledge how to design furniture that would increase the seniors’ comfort and security in home environment. By failing to meet the changing demands of aging societies, companies miss considerable business opportunities.

Innovating the approach

With applying a cross-sectoral approach and product development methods based on design thinking and open innovation, owners of companies, designers and architectures can boost their competitiveness in the Baltic Sea region and beyond. A big chance for enterprises can be a big win for seniors: better designed furniture incorporating smart solutions ensure a higher life quality and independence in home environment.

Budgets

BaltSe@nioR
in numbers
  • 2.39
    Million
    Total
  • 1.72
    Million
    Erdf
  • 0.00
    Million
    Eni + Russia
  • 0.10
    Million
    Norway

Achievements

Needs and preferences of seniors do matter

Experts from Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden worked together in the project BaltSe@nioR, and paved the way for the furniture industry, in particular small and medium sized enterprises, to better adapt their market offer for the elderly.

Baltse@nioR has developed a profile of an elderly as a customer that can serve any enterprise manufacturing furniture or serving seniors otherwise in product customisation. 90 companies from 12 countries identified their challenges when producing products for seniors. In a knowledge database, the project collected feedback from more than 3,000 seniors from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden on their preferences in using kitchen, bedroom and upholstery furniture, as well as on their IT skills and economic conditions of households.

Virtual library for real-life benefits

The project created a one-stop shop for furniture manufacturers and others interested in seniors as customers. More than 230 registered users: designers, engineers, architects, health experts, furniture industry journalists and entrepreneurs from furniture manufacturing companies from 18 countries access new databases, research results from seven countries around the Baltic Sea, safety requirements for the furniture construction, design methods, new tools and prototypes developed by the project.

Let’s test together

Students and young professionals from Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Norway tested new design, such as gigamapping or shadowing to get inspired to reshape the future furniture market. Now, these methods are part of the educational process of Poznan University of Life Sciences, Art Academy of Latvia and Tallinn University of Technology. Whereas the result of joint innovation camps and design workshops are several prototypes of furniture incorporating smart IT solutions that increase the seniors’ safety. For example, a magic mirror displays personalised messages, a ReAbleChair collects data on sit-to-stand movements, a smart chair helps in physical rehabilitation, and a mobile robot with the fall detection and stand-up support function.

The prototypes serve as an incentive for designers to design smarter and, by this, to gain a competitive advantage on the furniture market. The project directly supported as many as 40 companies, and involved many more into testing, workshops and business exchange events.

More than 100 seniors and their caregivers tested these novelties in real home environments in Ulvila and Pori (Finland), whereas enterprises from the furniture, IT and healthcare sectors validated the functionality of the tools, such as a virtual library and a 3d printed age-simulator. The collected feedback helped, for example, improve the mobile robot, and triggered further amendments to prototypes that could serve the needs of seniors in public space better, a niche picked by the follow up project BaltSe@nioR 2.0.

Interreg helps improve the quality of life

Thanks to EUR 1.72 million support from the European Union, the Interreg project Balts@nioR provided furniture manufacturers with knowledge and tools to customise their products for seniors. In this way, Balts@nioR increased the competitiveness of furniture sector across the Baltic Sea region and triggered producing safer and more comfortable furniture for seniors, which improve their quality of life and independence in home environment. Now, the follow-up project BaltSe@nioR 2.0 strives for changing public spaces into age-friendly areas, making use of all knowledge and tools in place.

Outputs

Virtual Library

The Virtual Library is an online platform that compiles relevant data from Denmark, Germany, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Sweden, research results, publications, tools, furniture prototypes and tested design methods developed in the project. The Library is a knowledge database for any furniture manufacturers, designers, students, practitioners and researchers that would like to learn more about furniture that better meet the needs of seniors. It is also a constantly developing platform, with new documents, films, photos, research results being added.

New, improved product development methods

This is a set of manuals and guidelines to new design working methods, which make use of design thinking, open innovation, and refer to the databases on the seniors’ preferences, and safety requirements for furniture for seniors. This comprehsive and inspirational set of design working methods was described and illustrated in order to ensure better understanding of the methods and to facilitate their implementation by companies, designers, students into their daily routines. The elaborated manuals and guidelines summarise all workshops, case studies and examples of the design methods that were tested and implemented during the project. The documents are also part of the Virtual Library.

Knowledge database on the seniors’ preferences

This database collects new knowledge on the seniors’ needs and preferences regarding kitchen, bedroom and upholstery furniture. Thanks to an optimised search engine, this online tool allows for finding relevant information about the seniors’ needs and preferences according to their e.g. country of origin (Denmark, Germany, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Sweden), age, sex and independence. The database guides manufacturers and designers in developing age-friendly furniture by providing valuable hints on how to adapt their products to create a safe home space for seniors.

Knowledge database on reliability and warranty

This online application enables to calculate the reliability of cabinet furniture joints and whole furniture constructions made from wood-based materials. This mathematical tool provides furniture designers, manufacturers and students with a unique possibility to calculate the warranty period length and align the design of furniture construction accordingly in order to achieve the extended warranty period. The application is based on long-term reliability investigations of samples of selected types of cabinet furniture joints performed by the project BaltSe@nioR. It makes use of new knowledge on the safety and reliability of furniture joints taking into consideration different materials and kinds of furniture joints.

Prototypes of furniture for seniors

A set of functional furniture prototypes guide students, designers, architects and furniture companies how to integrate new technologies into traditional furniture, and in this way create smart furniture for the elderly that adapted to their needs and preferences. For example, a magic mirror displays personalised messages, a ReAbleChair collects data on sit-to-stand movements, a smart chair helps in physical rehabilitation, and a mobile robot with the fall detection and stand-up support function. 3D printable furniture handles help in more comfortable use of cupboards and drawers. More information about the prototypes is also available in the Virtual Library.

Project Stories

Partners

Poznan University of Life Sciences

  • Town
    Poznań
  • Region
    Poznański
  • Country
    Poland
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
500,000.00
52.400663216.91973259178088

Development Centre UMT

  • Town
    Herning
  • Region
    Vestjylland
  • Country
    Denmark
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
435,000.00
56.13797578.9746623

Art Academy of Latvia

  • Town
    Riga
  • Region
    Rīga
  • Country
    Latvia
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
120,000.00
56.949397724.1051846

Ukmergė District Municipality Administration

  • Town
    Ukmergė
  • Region
    Vilniaus apskritis
  • Country
    Lithuania
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
40,000.00
55.247729324.7599714

Tallinn University of Technology

  • Town
    Tallinn
  • Region
    Põhja-Eesti
  • Country
    Estonia
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
95,000.00
59.437215524.7453688

Technische Universitaet Muenchen

  • Town
    Muenchen
  • Region
    München, Kreisfreie Stadt
  • Country
    Germany
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
350,000.00
48.137107911.5753822

University of Skövde

  • Town
    SKÖVDE
  • Region
    Västra Götalands län
  • Country
    Sweden
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
300,000.00
58.389845313.8443792

Hanseatic Parliament

  • Town
    Hamburg
  • Region
    Hamburg
  • Country
    Germany
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
250,000.00
53.55034110.000654

Satakunta University of Applied Sciences

  • Town
    Pori
  • Region
    Satakunta
  • Country
    Finland
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
101,666.00
61.486554221.7968951

NTNU/Norwegian University of Science and Technology

  • Town
    Trondheim
  • Region
    Sør-Trøndelag
  • Country
    Norway
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
200,000.00
63.430565810.3951929

Videos

Video 1 of 1