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Virginia Tech via Stanford Center on Longevity
Virginia Tech via Stanford Center on Longevity

This End Table Design Concept Doubles as an At-Home Gym for Seniors

Virginia Tech via Stanford Center on Longevity
Virginia Tech via Stanford Center on Longevity

Physical activity is just as important—if not more important—in your old age as it is throughout the rest of your life. But for many elderly people, the act of going to a gym is either unappealing or impossible. This compact workout station was designed to provide seniors with an exercise alternative right in the comfort of their own home.

According to Fast Company, the dynamic table was created by a team of industrial design students at Virginia Tech as part of the Stanford Center on Longevity's third annual Design Challenge. The invention, called Veevo, resembles a basic end table when it's not in use. To transform it into a piece of exercise equipment, seniors can simply pull on the handle and unfold its components. The chair is meant for low-impact, seated exercise, and its seat opens up to reveal a compartment for storing weights and yoga equipment. From beneath the chair, a step stool pulls out and can be used for more intense activities, and a handrail lifts out from the side to lend support.

Virginia Tech via Stanford Center on Longevity

The concept was partly inspired by a team member's grandmother, who had broken her wrist after falling and lost the ability to care for herself for several weeks. Looking to promote independence in the elderly, the team decided to take a proactive approach toward dealing with debilitating falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three men and one in two women stop exercising completely by age 75. A compact home gym could give seniors who might have remained sedentary a convenient way to improve their strength and balance.

Veevo is one of 12 finalists currently competing in Stanford's challenge, which looks at student-designed projects that promote healthier, longer lives. If their concept wins, the students hope to one day make their product a reality for the seniors who could benefit from it.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Ker Robertson, Getty Images
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architecture
5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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George Mayerle, U.S. National Library of Medicine // Public Domain
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Design
This 1907 Vision Test Was Designed for People of All Nationalities
George Mayerle, U.S. National Library of Medicine // Public Domain
George Mayerle, U.S. National Library of Medicine // Public Domain

At the turn of the 20th century, San Francisco was a diverse place. In fact, Angel Island Immigration Station, located on an island in the San Francisco Bay, was known as the “Ellis Island of the West,” processing some 300,000 people coming to the U.S. in the early 1900s. George Mayerle, a German optometrist working in the city at the time, encountered this diversity of languages and cultures every day in his practice. So in the 1890s, Mayerle created what was billed as “the only [eye] chart published that can be used by people of any nationality,” as The Public Domain Review alerts us.

Anticipating the difficulty immigrants, like those from China or Russia, would face when trying to read a vision test made solely with Roman letters for English-speaking readers, he designed a test that included multiple scripts. For his patients that were illiterate, he included symbols. It features two different styles of Roman scripts for English-speaking and European readers, and characters in Cyrillic, Hebrew, Japanese, and Chinese scripts as well as drawings of dogs, cats, and eyes designed to test the vision of children and others who couldn't read.

The chart, published in 1907 and measuring 22 inches by 28 inches, was double-sided, featuring black text on a white background on one side and white text on a black background on the other. According to Stephen P. Rice, an American studies professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey, there are other facets of the chart designed to test for a wide range of vision issues, including astigmatism and color vision.

As he explains in the 2012 history of the National Library of Medicine’s collections, Hidden Treasure [PDF], the worldly angle was partly a marketing strategy on Mayerle’s part. (He told fellow optometrists that the design “makes a good impression and convinces the patient of your professional expertness.”)

But that doesn’t make it a less valuable historical object. As Rice writes, “the ‘international’ chart is an artifact of an immigrant nation—produced by a German optician in a polyglot city where West met East (and which was then undergoing massive rebuilding after the 1906 earthquake)—and of a globalizing economy.”

These days, you probably won’t find a doctor who still uses Mayerle’s chart. But some century-old vision tests are still in use today. Shinobu Ishihara’s design for a visual test for colorblindness—those familiar circles filled with colored dots that form numbers in the center—were first sold internationally in 1917, and they remain the most popular way to identify deficiencies in color vision.

[h/t The Public Domain Review]

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