James Dyson will announce the winner of the international student design award that carries his name in a little over a week, so it's an opportune time to take a closer look at the finalists. This year, Dyson has 20 finalists from which to make his selection, and like previous years, it looks like being no easy task. Here are the entries still in the running for the first place prize that has been upped to £30,000 (US$48,500) for 2013.
This year, the challenge is the same as for 2012 – design something that solves a problem. From this very open-ended brief, students or recent university graduates in the fields of product design, industrial design and engineering who had studied in one of 18 different countries put their talents to the test. Some 650 projects were submitted to the competition, from which just 20 international finalists were chosen and announced on October 10.
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Awaring – JapanAlthough it is possible for hearing impaired people to carry on a conversation using a combination of hearing aids or lip reading, group conversations can pose problems in keeping track of who's talking and therefore, where to look. The Awaring is designed to overcome this problem by providing a visual cue as to the speaker's direction. The device also lets a hearing person know whether they are speaking loud enough for a hearing-impaired person to hear. This is done by a series of LEDs embedded within the ring-shaped device.
BioWool – UKAimed at transforming wool waste into something useful, BioWool combines bio-resin and carded wool waste fiber to produce a material with a wide variety of potential applications. Its creator has already used it to create a range of hard-shell luggage.
Comb – Muldenkipper (Dump Trucks) – AustriaIntended to reduce the downtimes of conventional dump trucks, the Comb is a dump truck that uses GPS for navigation, eliminating the need for a driver, and therefore a driver cab. The open-box bed is also removable and can be "dumped" along with the contents and replaced with an empty box to keep the Comb moving.
Cortex Fracture Support System – New ZealandThis is one that might be familiar to regular readers of Gizmag as we covered it back in July. It's a 3D-printed plastic cast designed to replace the traditional bulky plaster casts and offers the advantages of being waterproof, light, strong, recyclable and ventilated. It also makes it easier to scratch an itch underneath the cast and is produced from a scan of the patient's limb to ensure a perfect fit and localized support where it is needed most.
e-Health Sensor Platform – SpainBy leveraging the power of low-cost Raspberry Pi and Arduino computers, Ee-Health is designed as a budget health monitoring system. It supports nine different sensors, including pulse, blood oxygen, air flow, body temperature, electrocardiogram, blood glucose, galvanic skin response, blood pressure, and patient positioning. Information gathered can be sent wirelessly and analyzed on a laptop or smartphone.
glucO – FranceIntended for diabetics, gluCo comprises a watch equipped with a laser sensor for determining the wearer's blood sugar levels. For children, this information can be wirelessly transmitted via smartphone to a parent if high or low levels are detected, or sent to an accompanying pen that automatically prepares the correct amount of insulin to be injected.
Handle – JapanDesigned to make robotic prostheses cheaper and more accessible to a greater number of people, Handle's mechanical components can be reproduced by a 3D printer and the device can be powered by a user's smartphone. Key to the design is a finger mechanism that passively adapts to the shape of the object being gripped.
Hydros – IrelandHydros is a lifejacket that is designed to not only keep the wearer afloat, but also combat the effects of cold water shock, sea spray and hypothermia. The three-piece device consists of; a thermal t-shirt with a gel heatpack located over the chest and neck to reduce heat loss in vital organs; a thermal jacket that prevents core temperature loss; and a zip-on lifevest with inflatable bladder and spray hood.
LENIFY – USAThere are already two-piece stretchers that are designed to minimize the movement of patients when being placed on a stretcher, but the Lenify goes one step further by dividing into three parts. The parts are designed around the proportions of the human body and are designed to slide under the patient and minimize the exacerbation of any injuries that may have already occurred.
Mamori – IrelandThe dangers of concussion in contact sports has been gaining a lot of media attention lately, and the Mamori is a device designed to help medical staff ascertain the danger of concussion being suffered by a player. The Marori is a gum shield that has been packed with an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer to measure acceleration, force and 3D orientation. Data collected by the device in the event of a collision is wirelessly sent to medical staff so they can make an informed diagnosis.
OLTU Storage vegetables out of the fridge – SpainOLTU is intended as a fridge-free way of storing fresh fruit and vegetables. Its creators say that the refrigerator isn't actually the best device for storing such food and by using suitable materials, the device is designed to maintain the ideal temperatures and humidity required to preserve them. Temperature is maintained in four different areas by evaporative cooling, with the heat produced by a fridge motor actually used for the evaporative cooling process. In this way, OLTU is designed to save energy and help cut food wastage.
Renewable Wave Power (RWP) – UKAimed at harnessing wave power in the Orkneys, Scotland, RWP is a semi-submersible device that features a multi-axis wave converter to allow it to absorb wave energy from any given direction. The wave movement is converted to hydraulic pressure before being converted into electricity. Its creators have built and tested a 40th scale fully functional prototype and are looking to conduct sea trials through the European Marine Energy Centre's Nursery Program.
Revolights – USAAnother invention that has already graced the pages of Gizmag, Revolights also has the distinction of being commercially available following a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2011. It is a bike lighting system that sees two narrow rings of LEDs mounted directly within the wheel. A magnet and accelerometer read the speed and orientation of the rings so that the LEDs only light up at the front and back of the bike.
Roam – Lightweight Respiratory Unit – AustraliaDesigned for children who suffer sudden and severe asthma attacks, Roam contains liquid oxygen within a linerless epoxy carbon fiber vessel that provides weight savings of around 45% compared to conventional oxygen tanks. This makes it light enough to be carried by the children at which it is aimed, while its design is also likely to appeal more to this age group.
Robotic Surgery: Automated Suturing Tool – CanadaIntended to save time and money in the operating room, this device is designed to automate the suturing process following laparoscopic surgery. The suturing tool, which consists of jaws that thread the suturing needle, are mounted on a standard six-axis robotic suite and was developed with the support of the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children.
sono – AustriaThe sonos scales up the principle used in active noise-canceling headphones to help reduce outside noise inside a building. The disk-shaped device attaches to a window and produces an inverted phase soundwave to counter the noise pollution from outside. The device can be tuned to allow the user to select the tones they wish to cancel out.
Stack – SwitzerlandDesigned as a space-saving device, the Stack is an inkjet printer that does away with the need for a paper feed tray. The printer draws sheets from the stack of paper it sits atop and deposits the printed sheets in a newly formed stack on top of the printer.
TeamO Back Pull Life Jacket and Harness – UKThe TeamO Back Pull lifejacket is designed to overcome the problem of person that has gone overboard being dragged through the water face down when a lifejacket tether is attached to a vessel. As the name suggests, the device rotates the wearer onto their back thanks to a hidden strop that allows the person to be dragged through the water on their back. It also creates a "bow wave" effect to keep the head protected from oncoming waves.
Titan Arm – USAThe Titan is an upper-body exoskeleton that is designed to augment a user's arm strength by 175 N. Intended as a cheaper alternative to exoskeletons such as the HULC and XOS 2, the Titan Arm was constructed for less than $2,000 and is aimed at a range of applications, including occupational lifting and healthcare. While being completely self-contained, it can also wirelessly stream data to healthcare professionals for feedback in physical therapy.
Xarius – GermanyFrom Germany comes Xarius, a portable wind turbine that features an integrated cable that allows it to be installed just about anywhere. The compact unit packs a rechargeable battery and three wings that fold out and to catch the wind and rotate to generate electricity to charge the battery.
Tough decisionThat is the list of 20 finalists as selected by the James Dyson Award jury. From this group one International Winner will be awarded £30,000 for themselves or their team, with an additional £10,000 going to their university department. Two International Runners-up will take home £10,000, while each National Winner will receive £2,000. There are plenty of worthy candidates this year and we'd be keen to hear your picks in the comments. The official winners will be announced by James Dyson on November 7.
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