Home cancer-screen kit and UV-harvesting windows win James Dyson Awards
A simple home test for breast cancer and a solar energy-harvesting window made of recycled materials are the big winners of this year’s James Dyson Awards. The annual competition encourages university students to develop innovative solutions to current problems.
Judit Giró Benet of the University of Barcelona was the 2020 international winner for The Blue Box. This device and an accompanying app are designed to make it easy and more comfortable for women to self-screen for breast cancer at home.
The current gold standard for detecting breast cancer is a mammogram. During the procedure, each breast needs to be compressed between two plastic plates while an X-ray is taken, and it can sometimes be painful or at least not particularly comfortable. That can lead women to avoid getting tested, potentially reducing survival rates. To make matters worse, mammograms have relatively high rates of false positives and negatives.
The Blue Box, on the other hand, is designed to be simple to use at home, to remove that discomfort barrier that may prevent some women from getting tested. The device uses six chemical sensors to analyze urine samples for a particular set of breast cancer biomarkers, with the grunt work being performed by an AI algorithm in the cloud
The diagnosis is then sent to the accompanying Blue Box app. Benet says the system is more than 95 percent accurate.
“The Blue Box endeavors to change the way society fights breast cancer and to give all women in the world the chance to avoid an advanced diagnosis, making screening a part of our daily lives,” says Benet. “The prize money will allow us to patent more extensively, expediate research and development, and help to ensure our product is viable.”
2020 Sustainability Award
This year’s sustainability winner was Carvey Ehren Maigue of Mapua University, for the AuREUS System Technology. These panels can be made into windows or walls, where they absorb ultraviolet light from the Sun and convert it into electricity. And as a bonus, they’re made from waste crops.
Maigue says that AuRUES was inspired by the phenomenon of aurora. This beautiful natural process occurs when luminescent particles in the upper atmosphere absorb energy from UV and gamma radiation and emit it as visible light. AuREUS embeds similar luminescent particles in resin, so that when the sunlight hits them, they absorb the UV and produce visible light.
From there, the light is directed towards the edges of the panel, where regular photovoltaic cells are waiting to collect the energy and turn it into electricity.
Maigue says that by harvesting UV radiation, the AuREUS design is tapping into a part of the spectrum that conventional solar cells miss. If used in cities it could also reduce people’s exposure to this harmful radiation. And in an added benefit, the dyes required to make the luminescent particles can be sourced from waste crops.
“As a farmer, I see great potential in Carvey’s technology to generate clean renewable energy,” says James Dyson. “AuREUS System Technology conserves space using pre-existing structures, utilizes current resources and waste streams, and supports local agricultural communities.”
Both winners will receive a prize of £30,000 (roughly US$40,000) to help fund further development of the technologies.
Source: James Dyson Awards