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Tag: privacy

It’s great to see that something simple, effective and really useful has won the UK leg of the international James Dyson Award – bring on the flexible room divider for use in hospitals, developed by designer Michael Korn.

KwickScreen is a portable, retractable, room divider which provides isolation or privacy solutions in hospitals when required. They have a very small footprint for easy storage and use and are simple to transport and clean. KwickScreens enable hospitals, which are often stretched for resources, to make the best use of space offering the flexibility to change a room’s layout. The product greatly helps in the fight against health care acquired infections as well as with mixed sex accommodation and general privacy and dignity problems.

KwickScreens can be printed, which adds colour and interest to wards and can be used to display important messages to staff and visitors and has applications beyond healthcare, in schools, universities, offices and exhibitions where open plan areas need to be divided up in a fast and flexible manner.

Having graduated from the Royal College of Art with a table top model of the KwickScreen, Michael spent much of the year researching hospital environments and understanding the situation. The following year, 2008, KwickScreen was selected to be part of the NHS’s smart ideas programme and in 2009 a clinical trial at UCLH with full size prototypes began. Over the next year further product developments were made, the internal mechanism was simplified and the body was changed from steel to aluminium. KwickScreen was accepted into the Design London incubator Jan 2011 and subsequently the first volume sales came in, by July the screen has been sold into 25 trusts and 4 countries.










Michael says ‘ The inspiration came whilst thinking about problems within the NHS; MRSA, lack of space, lack of privacy. No one wants to be denied their basic right to privacy and dignity when admitted to hospital. The NHS has the worst rate of healthcare associated infections in Europe. Nurses required improved isolation for infection control without the use of scarce side rooms, and patients wanted increasing privacy and dignity, therefore I sought to address these problems. I came up with the idea of bringing isolation to the patient. A retractable screen was the solution I envisaged; I sought inspiration firstly from nature. The venus fly trap and a frogs tongue, slap on bracelets and tape measures were all used during this stage until the discovery of rolatube which gave a means of scaling up my idea to full size’.

See more details of Michael’s invention and the other shortlisted projects here BBC News – Showing off UK innovation

Posted by Ann Clarke

As offices become more densely planned in response to reducing space standards, sound seems to be one of the most emotive issues when it comes to assessing how people will respond to the proximity of their colleagues. One person’s sound is another person’s noise. The issue is becoming more and more important as space standards continue to change. We can all have a joke about other people’s ringtones and iPod leakage, but this can be a genuine problem and it is linked directly to our proximity to our neighbours and our ability to control to some degree our space and time.

So, good for Vitra in launching a further development of their Alcove sofa. In busy open plan offices finding a space to work alone quietly is sometimes easier said than done. Acoustic privacy can be provided by introducing more informal high back lounge furniture, complete with touchdown work surface, making a suitable and productive space for private work. An added benefit of this alternative to a traditional desk is that there is nowhere to store your clutter!

Alcove Work designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec

Posted by Ann Clarke

Over this weekend two news articles came to light both involving personal data and the internet. The first was Facebook’s new default privacy settings.  These opened up more of members’ information to the web and their business partners.  This includes information about family and employer. In Facebook’s defence, users do need to accept these policy changes, but how many of us really read all the fine detail when an ‘Accept’ box pops up. The second involves Google and their Street View mapping. Many countries have felt uneasy about Google’s cars taking photos of people’s houses and business and publishing it online without people even knowing – let alone accepting – this. However, as anyone can walk down your street and look at your house then it does not offer any more information than can be accessed by walking past or so we thought.

It hasn’t been until the German authorities audited the data and found that over the past 3 years Google have been collecting samples of ‘payload’ data sent on open wireless networks, including photos, emails and web sites.  Google are of course sorry about this and are not too sure why they are collecting the data or what they were going to do with it (this is more worrying to me than the fact they are collecting the data).

So what’s the harm in any of these changes?  You wouldn’t put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want anyone to see would you?  But that’s not the only danger. More and more companies are finding ways to mine data from these sites and build up a profile of you and more dangerously where you are.  An example of this is a site called Please Rob Me.  Please Rob Me mines data from Twitter, to work out if you’re at home or not and making you a target for a burglary.  Facebooksearch searches status updates on Facebook, so adding ‘hung over’ as your status will not be good when you’ve just rung in sick and your boss finds out. Should we be surprised by any of this?  Well, perhaps not.  After all, you get nothing in this world for free.  How else can Facebook and Google make the vast fortunes that they do?  They sell advertising to companies and if Facebook and Google are unable to do this competitively then ultimately it will cease to be.  So the choice may be how much information are you comfortable with ANYONE knowing. By Michael Creasey