Beyond human factors: designing for experience and performance in 2036

The global population of 2035 will be very different to today. Retirees will expect to be active into their 80s and beyond, despite the challenges of obesity and lifestyle-associated health problems. Today's millennials will be the largest consumer demographic, reared on Uber, Facebook and hackspaces, and with expectations to match.

The challenge for designers of 2035 is not simply to adapt to constant change, but to address the growing diversity of users across the spectrum of age, demographics and health status. Can products be flexible enough to adapt to wildly different levels of human performance, and yet remain cost-effective? Will a generation of children brought up hacking electronics challenge closed commercial systems? What do values such as trust and quality mean when tech companies can make simultaneous inroads across mutiple sectors from entertainment to self-driving cars?

These are the challenges that human experience design is taking on. Only by understanding the user, can products and services remain fit for this century of change.

I'm curious about..."whether the driver of 2035 will want their car to come from Audi... or Apple"Neil Mansfield


Neil Mansfield is Professor of Design Engineering and Human Factors in the Dyson School of Design Engineering. Prior to joining Imperial College, Neil was Professor of Human Factors Engineering at Loughborough Design School, Loughborough University and Associate Dean for Research. He has also worked in the automotive industry, at ISVR University of Southampton and in research at Umeå, Sweden. He maintains many international links, particularly with research organisations in Japan.


Neil's work explores ergonomics and human factors, with a particular focus on the design of vehicles for their occupants. His work explores:

  • Design for optimal comfort and performance;
  • Understanding the needs and capabilities of vehicle occupants working at the limits of performance in mining and military applications;
  • Design for older users, where the limits of performance might be in the process of decline.

Foresight and futures work

2036: Tech Foresight
Future of materials science, additive manufacturing and design

Profile Credits

Foresight: Kit Huckvale