Innovative inventions from the world's biggest student design show
Part of Dubai Design Week, the Global Grad Show is the world’s largest annual gathering of young university design graduates, showing off their most innovative projects. New Atlas was on the ground at this year’s show, digging through the massive array of projects to offer you a special glimpse at some of the most inventive new ideas from the planet’s top young designers.
Dubai is not known for doing things small, and in just five short years its Global Grad Show has quickly become the biggest graduate student design exhibition in the world. This year received a record number of applications and new curator Eleanor Watson scoured hundreds of projects to select 150 from 43 countries for the final show. Curatorially, she has structured it around five different spheres: The Human, The Home, The Community, The City and The Planet.
“The curatorial approach of this year aims to show the connections between different spheres of human existence; as visitors walk through the exhibition, they will experience projects related to the human first, moving on to the home and community and finally the city, and planet,” Watson explains. “Our hope is that it will inspire others to think critically about how they live, while inspiring all of us to act consciously.”
A fascinating new initiative set up for the first time this year is an Entrepreneurship Programme. Developed to help assist these students in turning their graduate projects into marketable projects, the multi-phase programme teaches pitching skills and business planning before ultimately connecting a selection of projects with stakeholders and investors in the United Arab Emirates. It’s a clever strategy to help transition a collection of prospective conceptual projects into real-world marketable products.
In this spirit, New Atlas has focused on some of the most compelling, and realizable, products to highlight in this year’s Global Grad Show round-up. From a non-invasive glucose monitoring watch to novel rehabilitation mouse that prevents carpal tunnel syndrome, these impressive projects suggest the future of design is bright, sustainable and positively exciting.
WeGlo: The glucose monitoring watch
For decades researchers have worked to develop a non-invasive way of measuring blood glucose levels. WeGlo takes the most advanced current non-invasive glucose monitoring technique, and rolls it into a cleverly designed smartwatch package. The watch claims blood glucose can be monitored in real time, plus an algorithm in the device tracks any measurement changes purporting to predict hypo/hyperglycemia before onset.
The device uses microwave and radiowave frequencies to monitor blood glucose levels without piercing the skin, and the creators claim early simulations are delivering accuracy rates of 96 percent. Computer science student Abd Rahman Al Kaderi, from the University of Beirut, has already created a startup to move his product to market. Of course a huge amount of work is ahead of the team before this becomes a real product but WeGlo is an impressively designed concept.
Pokai: A bottle that can boil water
From industrial design student Alice Thompson at Auckland University of Technology, Pokai is a solidly conceived product. It’s essentially a water bottle that can boil two cups of water through a built-in heating coil. The perfect volume of liquid to make up some noodles, re-hydrate a meal, or just sip on a warm cup of tea.
The product is powered by a portable battery that attaches to the base. The battery itself can be easily recharged using a small solar panel, and it also has a USB port allowing for an electronic device such as a smartphone to get a bit of charge if you need some emergency power.
Ignis: A heat-powered lantern
As Berlin-based designer Tobias Truebenbache notes, there are still at least two billion people worldwide who have no regular or consistent access to electricity. Many of these communities rely on wood-fired stoves for heating and cooking. Ignis is a magnificently clever little product, using the heat of a stove to charge a battery connected to a simple lantern.
A few hours on a heat source and the battery is fully charged. The device also comes with a small oil burner that can be used as a charging heat source in the absence of a bigger stove surface. Truebenbache suggests with a little more development the whole device could be manufactured quite cheaply, meaning it theoretically could be mass-produced and rolled out into the homes of those in remote communities without access to electricity.
Swiv: A new toothbrush
It’s easy to take for granted the everyday act of brushing your teeth. What may seem like a simple action is actually a complex combination of dexterous movements. A trio of designers from the University of Pennsylvania has effectively redesigned the toothbrush, with a view to helping children with cognitive difficulties better navigate this daily task.
Swiv comprises a novel brush head that covers a tooth while a tiny motor pivots the brush, allowing for teeth to be fully cleaned using just a single horizontal movement by the user. With one simple motion sliding the brush head along the teeth, Swiv is a marvellous new kind of toothbrush. Ostensibly designed to help cognitively challenged children become independent, the brush is so well-designed we’d be interested in having one ourselves.
Afflo: A two-way monitor for asthmatics
Afflo is a fascinating, and well considered, wearable health device for asthmatics designed to both measure environmental information and track an individual’s respiratory symptoms. The device sits on a person’s chest and uses a microphone to track breathing patterns. Additional sensors also monitor air and environmental factors.
These dual streams of data are then evaluated by a machine learning algorithm designed to offer daily personalized information about an individual’s asthmatic triggers. Designed by Anna Bernbaum, from Imperial College London, Afflo is a sophisticated little product that ties a number of health data points into a smartphone app that helps a person best manage their asthma.
Raya: A rehab computer mouse
Do you work in front a computer all day every day, with your hand clasped around a mouse for hours on end? At best you probably have developed quite the wrist cramp, and at worst carpal tunnel syndrome is on the horizon. Polish industrial design student Aleksandra Radlak created Raya to solve the problem.
The compelling design offers a subtle and comfortable 3D printed shape that lightly directs the hand to continually shift its position through a small, spherical, pivoting top shell. Multiple buttons and scroll wheels allow the mouse to be continually customized meaning different hand-movements and muscles can be used at various times.