TEDMED Partner spaces: The cocoa bean genome, insta-aging, and KittenScanners

One of the biggest draws at TEDMED is checking out sponsor and contributor social spaces, fantastical interactive displays that showcase their corporate contributions to health and medicine.

Best known for its chocolate and pet food, the global food company Mars has thrown itself behind understanding genomics and the role that it can play as a solution to fighting food scarcity, chronic hunger and malnutrition (Global Staff Officer of Plant Science and External Research Howard Shapiro will speak at TEDMED Session 2 on Wednesday morning.).  Another goal is to map the cocoa bean genome – all the better, we say; bring on the chocolate!

Another booth angle is pet-human interaction and how it boosts emotional well-being – at least as far as humans go – a hot research top lately. Sergeant Jon Gordon, a war veteran and his service dog will be meeting delegates in the space to show first-hand the rehabilitative impact of human-animal interaction.

Nurture by Steelcase designed their space to create conversation on smart design for

Nurture's new patient recliner, Empath

special needs. Delegates will gather around “campfire” space to chat with IDEO design consultant reps.

They’ll also get an eye-opening chance to see for themselves the unique design needs posed by physical handicaps and aging.  Participants can don a “Third Age” suit – on loan from the Ford Motor Company – that “ages” them several decades in terms of strength, mobility, vision and other tactile functions. The space-age suit, which looks like a stripped-down astronaut uniform, is made of materials that add bulk and restrict movement at key areas of the body such as knees, elbows, back and neck. The suit also uses gloves that reduce the sense of touch, and goggles that simulate cataracts.

Philips is exploring the issue of lack of sleep as a national health crisis in its onsite design lab. An illustrator will visualize Delegate discussion on the topic as the days go by into a wall-length mural.

Towards its goal of “designing healthcare around people who need it,” the company is exhibiting a colorful KittenScanner for kids to show them what to expect when getting a CT scan  – an unnerving experience even for adults – to lessen the stress of the experience. Their illuminated LightGuide therapeutic tool helps visually- and hearing-impaired children improve motor activities and develop the ability to read and write.