A simple picture of a personal panic alarm in my lecture today put a giant lump in my throat. It was almost identical to the one my mum’s aunt had. She died about a year ago but my mum got her one of these plastic contraptions which, she was supposed to wear around her neck – she never did.

Naturally my mum would get upset at her for this because if something happened to her, say she fell, she could never have gotten herself up. (Hence she could press the alarm)

In theory the alarms are brilliant inventions. They take away the worry about not being able to reach the phone if you fall or take ill. It made my mum’s aunt feel safe on her own and it eased my mums mind about her living on her own. Yet she very rarely wore it…?

It wasn’t that she was opposed to it – quite the opposite. It would often sit on the couch next to her, or near the kettle or, more often than not on her bedside table. Why? Simple. If she was sleeping it would hurt her. If she was making tea, it would dangle and get in the way.  If she was watching a film she would be there for a good two hours so: why should she have big thing round her neck when it could sit next to her? The danger with this of course was (as my mum would put it): “you could forget about it when you go out the kitchen; when you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night or when the phone goes during Dances With Wolves

Despite these dangers and indeed her own anxious nature (which should have been enough to make her wear it) she continued to take it off.  SO…what’s my point?

It’s badly designed.

The image of it was in the lecture to show us the difference between good and bad design. My heads still hurting from hearing the argument that “pizza flyers are actually an example of the best design in the world”. I am however going to investigate this (preposterous) argument. I am doing this because I want to understand/broaden my perception of what good design is.

My intention is to then apply this to the panic alarm – what makes it bad design and how could it become good design?


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