The first stage in judging the James Dyson Award 2010 has been completed and the national shortlists have been posted. From these, 20 projects will be chosen to go onto the next stage later this month. The overall international winner will be crowned in October. Read on for a look at some of those now being scrutinized by the judges.

Designers from 18 countries have entered projects in this year's James Dyson Award. Up for grabs is GBP10,000 (about US$15,775) in prize money for the international winner plus a visit to one of the Dyson research & development centers and, of course, a trophy. The university department to which the winning designer or team belongs, if appropriate, will also receive GBP10,000. This year's challenge was simply to design something that solves a problem.

The first judging stage has now been completed and national shortlists drawn up. Up to ten entries from each of the 18 countries are now through to the next round, which will see those whittled down to just 20. Sadly, the Treadway Mobility personal transport solution didn't make the cut but Sea Kettle and the Copenhagen Wheel are through.

Other shortlisted U.S. project include a modular activity frame designed with autistic kids in mind, a public bicycle security system and a car stereo that includes docking for cell phones and aims to make cell phone driving distractions a thing of the past.

Just to the north, Canada's hopes are resting on projects like the Sense Fire Prevention System which detects different gases and odors and warns home-owners of potential risks or a wireless car key system where drivers can use a cell phone or dedicated mobile device to unlock a door.

Amongst the projects on Australia's shortlist are a wireless speaker system for use in public areas such as pubs to provide clear audio for televised sports viewing, a monitoring device for those suffering from type 2 diabetes and the bumpfree dynamic speedbump.

Projects from Europe

The UK will be represented by, amongst others, Move-it – a set of wheels onto which users attach various self-adhesive cardboard sections and end up with a custom box trolley. There's also a filtration and UV sterilization water bottle and a compact urban bicycle.

The French are counting on projects like a gesture-controlled musical interface to impress the judges. Also on offer are survivor locating technologies incorporated into rescue workers' clothing and morphing travel baggage which expands or contracts at the touch of a button.

Staying in Europe, and only one project was chosen from eight entries submitted by designers in Holland, a ceramic water cooler that spurts water into the under side of special containers placed on any of its tap points. Another singular shortlisted representative from Belgium is a pillow that helps insomniacs get some shut-eye. Austria gets the full ten shortlisted projects, such as a cargo bike with electric assist where the two rear wheels expand horizontally and the space in-between turns into a 150 liter capacity cargo space.

Spanish 3D and Italy's fresh air

Eight Spanish projects are through to the next round, the E-touch computer interface takes images on a computer screen and makes three-dimensional tactile representations of them on the surface of the device. There's also a bike helmet with space for sunglasses and built-in airbags. Shortlisted projects from Ireland include an earphone accessory with adjustable noise isolation and an ultra light tripod alternative for helping to keep photographic opportunities on the level.

Amongst Germany's shortlisted projects can be found a mobile toilet which answers the call of people who want to answer the call of nature, scuttling to their aid and allowing them to take care of their needs before wandering away again until needed again. Italy's shortlist includes a natural, USB-powered air freshener that uses a plant to refresh stale workplace air. There's also a kind of Swiss Army knife for the garden in the shape of the Garden Toucan.

And that leads us nicely onto the Swiss shortlist where the red cross becomes a portable, autonomous rescue drone for avalanche victims, capable of seeking out survivors and tagging them for subsequent rescue. CONA provides a simple means of GPS navigation for the visually impaired, giving directional instructions via vibrating paddles controlled by software on a cell phone.

Eastward bound

Heading east and just a couple of Singapore projects were entered and both are through to the next round. There's an air purifier and an elbow device for children with Cerebral Palsy that pulsates in time with music to help improve a child's range of motions. Japan's shortlisted projects feature a possible solution to the problem of getting on and off a crowded subway train without getting too bruised and battered and a water tap with extendable nose hose included in the design to help jet wash those difficult to reach bottles and containers.

Four out of the five projects submitted from Malaysia have made it through, including a mist washer which produces just the right mix of soap and water to help keep hands clean. One of the three shortlisted projects from Russia looks to help those who have problems seeing all those small boxes on forms. The OCNO pen includes a strategically placed, fold-out magnifying glass to help bring everything into sharp focus.

Projects from the Kiwi's through to the next round include a seat design that makes use of lamp posts to give those who need frequent stops a place to take the load off for a while and the Minotaur. The latter is a fire nozzle system which is harnessed to the fire fighter and is said to provide greater freedom of movement as well as being more comfortable to use.

More to see

There are lots more designs currently being scrutinized by the judges. To take a closer look at those not featured here, choose "Regional Judging" in the shortlist drop-down box on this page and then either browse through all entries or select the country whose projects you would like to view.

The next shortlist will appear on August 24 – in the meantime we'll be featuring in-depth coverage on some of the stand-out entries. Stay tuned.

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