James Roberts, a 23 year-old design grad from Britain's Loughborough University, has won this year's international James Dyson Award for his portable inflatable incubator. Called MOM, the device is intended to be a low-cost alternative to traditional incubators, allowing premature babies in places such as refugee camps to survive when they might otherwise perish. Read on for more details on it, along with the three runners-up.
The big winnerThe insulated middle section of MOM (the part where the baby goes) is the bit that's inflatable. When the device isn't in use, that section is deflated and the two ends are pushed in to meet one another in the middle – it's sort of like an accordion, that zips together. Once MOM is needed, it's unzipped, pulled open and inflated manually.
Integrated ceramic heating elements are used to keep the infant warm. A collapsible phototherapy unit is also built in, for treating babies who have jaundice. The temperature and humidity are displayed on a screen, and can be adjusted as needed. Should either change beyond acceptable levels, an alarm will let caregivers know.
Although the incubator requires an external power source to run for long periods, it does have a battery that will keep it going for up to 24 hours in the event of an outage.
According to the university, MOM provides the same performance as a £30,000 (US$47,500) modern incubation system, but costs just £250 ($400) to manufacture, test and transport to the desired location. Roberts won $45,000 for his innovation, to invest into further prototyping and testing.
QOLOThe three runners-up each collected $7,500.
The first of those, QOLO, is a powered wheelchair created by two engineering students from Japan's University of Tsukuba. It's designed to allow people who lack the use of their legs to stand up, move across the floor in a standing position, and then sit down again.
It does so via a passive electro-mechanical assistance system, that responds when the user shifts the weight of their upper body. A demo can be seen in the following video.
SuncayrWe've already seen devices such as
Created by a group of nanotechnology engineering students from Canada's University of Waterloo, it takes the form of a UV-responsive ink that the user applies to their skin in the form of a doodle (or whatever they want) via a felt pen. They then apply their sunscreen over top of that doodle.
As long as the ink stays green, it means that their sunscreen is still working. When it turns red, however, it's time to put more sunscreen on – once they've done so, it turns green again.
BruiseDisabled athletes often lack sensation in certain parts of their body, which means that they don't always notice when they've been injured in that area.
Developed by students at Britain's Imperial College London and Royal College of Art, it consists of white lycra apparel that's lined with pockets containing strips of a pressure-reactive film. When the wearer receives a hard impact to the body, the film in that area releases a magenta dye from embedded microcapsules. That dye is visible on the outside of the lycra, letting the athlete know that they might be hurt.