Mary Hood was worried that her 85-year-old grandmother, who walks with a cane, could fall and get hurt. So she developed a smart cane that vibrates in its users’ hands when it detects obstacles. Other functions include a flashlight, pulse monitor, and smartphone-connected medication reminder. “What’s so cool about our generation,” she says, “is that we can start using technology to revolutionize these very basic necessities of life.”

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.