James Dyson’s 2010 Short-List of Contestant Designs

Stephen DeAngelis

October 5, 2010

Each year James Dyson, the English inventor and designer known best for his line of vacuum cleaners, sponsors a contest for young designers. Contestants this year were simply asked to design something that solved a problem. In August, I wrote about the Electrolux design contest whose contestants had to design something that help saved space [see Designing the Future]. The winner of that design competition was Peter Alwin from the National Institute of Design in India for his entry, The Snail [“Electrolux Design Lab 2010 – and the winner is…,” by Darren Quick, Gizmag, 23 September 2010]. Below is the description of The Snail and my thoughts concerning it from my previous post:

“The Snail by Peter Alwin from India is a micro induction heating concept for portable heating and cooking. It is powered by a high-density sugar crystal battery and is designed to be attached to small cooking items such as a pot or mug. It contains integrated sensors to determine the cooking time and temperature for certain food types and features a touch-sensitive display.

“I like this idea — especially for people living by themselves. Some elderly people not only cook in small amounts, but using appliances like a gas stove raises safety issues. The Snail eliminates those hazards and permits people to cook in small quantities with confidence.”

Overall, I believe that short-list of designs in the Dyson contest are more practical than those selected as finalists by Electrolux. Entrants for the Dyson contest came from 18 different countries and the hundreds of entries were winnowed down to 20. Contestants are vying for “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” [“James Dyson Award National Winners announced,” by Paul Ridden, Gizmag, 11 August 2010]. In this post, I will take a quick look at the 15 final designs.

Water Donut and Ultra-pipe — The system “disinfects contaminated water without electricity or chemistry, and consists of two units, the Water Donut and UltraPipe. … Parts can be used [either] independently [or] in combination. The donut [uses] the water sterilizing effect of the sun, called SODIS effect.” The device was developed for use in developing countries where access to clean water is limited or for use following natural disasters.

The Wanderest — “The Wanderest is a seat or leaner that attaches to existing circular or octagonal lamp posts situated around rest homes and retirement villages. Lamp posts are an ideal resting point because they are at equal intervals along the footpath. If every lamp post along a street had a Wanderest it could be looked at as a goal for the elderly, to make it to the next resting spot.”

The Copenhagen Wheel — “Developed by a small team of students at the SENSEable City Lab, MIT, The Copenhagen Wheel is a new emblem for sustainable urban mobility that improves the cycling experience, offers a cost-effective transportation alternative to cars and fosters a community of cyclists in cities. Smart, responsive and elegant, it transforms existing bicycles quickly into hybrid electric-bikes with regeneration and real-time sensing capabilities.”

Tablet Seed — The Tablet Seed is a tablet of vegetable seeds covered with fertilizer. The tablet is large, easy to handle, and comes in the shape of vegetable whose seeds the tablet contains. It is meant to be used by people who want to grow gardens but feel they lack the experience necessary to grow them from traditional seeds. All you have to do is the appropriate seed tablet in the ground, water it, and watch it grow.

The SeaKettle — “The SeaKettle is a life raft that combines safety, accessibility, and a desalination process. In an emergency at sea, you may not be able to obtain fresh drinking water before being forced to abandon ship. Passengers could easily die of thirst or from extreme temperatures before they are rescued or reach land. The SeaKettle solves these potential life threatening problems by providing both insulated, reliable shelter as well as fresh drinking water.”

The Resuscitation Machine REAX — “The primary goal of resuscitation is to preserve brain function. These are provided during the patient’s brain has a cardiac arrest with oxygen. [REAX is] a CPR device that is based on the theory of the thoracic pump mechanism [which concludes] the heart plays [only a minor role] in the resuscitation … because vessels, such as [those feeding the] lung or liver contain a large proportion of blood reserve. REAX, compressed at regular intervals, [compresses] the entire chest and forces the blood into the brain more efficiently and more evenly than with a manual cardiac massage.”

UV Sterilization Water Bottle — This water bottle addresses the same challenge that is tackled by the Water Donut. It is “a Portable water bottle for filtration and UV sterilization of water anywhere in the world in 2 minutes. The water bottle works by first filling the outer chamber with dirty water from any lake, stream or dirty puddle. The inner chamber is plunged though the outer chamber and the water is filtered though a custom designed filter, down to 4 micron in particle size. Once the water is clear it is sterilized for 90 seconds using a wind-up Ultra Violet bulb. Once complete the water is safe to drink. The whole process takes 2 minutes.”

Move-it — “Move-it is a simple kit of self-adhesive cardboard parts, which the user sticks on to a cardboard package, turning it into a lightweight, easy-to-use trolley. It consists of a set of wheels and two different types of handle. A combination of these components allows the user to move boxes of almost any size and shape up to 20Kg. The idea of Move-it is to enable people to shop in a spontaneous way, then deliver their goods themselves, without having to struggle, rely on cars, vans or taxis, or wait-in for deliveries.”

Minotaur Fire Nozzle System — “Minotaur is a water delivery system that provides greater control, functionality and comfort to the user when extinguishing fires irrespective of the duration of operation. The design works with the user not against them. To utilize the entire body mass to counteract the opposing water pressure the nozzle is connected to the harness within the users center of gravity. Freedom of movement and comfort whilst wearing the harness is achieved by padding contoured to the body so that it moves as one with the user.”

Mantis: Folding Portable Dental Chair and Dolly — Portable dentistry might not be a problem in the developed world, but it can be in the developing world. “Mantis is the perfect solution to today’s problems in portable dentistry. Not only does it act as a great dental chair, but when collapsed, the product is used as a dolly to carry other bulky and heavy equipment. The materials used to manufacture Mantis are also inexpensive, reducing the cost of the chair as a whole. In addition to functioning as a dolly, Mantis has features that allow the chair to be adjusted to the patients every need. The headrest can be moved up or down nearly any sized patient and the reclining angle can be in nearly any position. Not only is Mantis perfect for portable dentistry, but the multi-functional chair could also be used in several other medical fields.”

LONGREACH Buoyancy Deployment System — “Longreach is a man-portable system that allows for the rapid conveyance of temporary, water-activated buoyancy devices to a drowning victim’s location. It is designed to allow a victim to remain buoyant while rescue personnel prepare the appropriate response to the situation. The rescue package uses hydrophobic or rapidly expanding foam to provide buoyancy once the package contacts the water. This allows the package to be vastly smaller in size than any currently existing buoyancy device.”

Flo2w – A new user experience in respiratory therapy — “Flo2w is a new way of delivering oxygen to a patient. It eliminates many problems that are associated with the current device. The device is fitted on the patients head using the adjustable headpiece. It has an adjustability range from the 5th percentile female to the 95th percentile male. The headpiece is single patient use only but it does not need to be disposed of at weekly intervals. Instead the tubing carrying the oxygen can be easily clipped on and off. As this is classed as clinical waste, it must be disposed but the headpiece can be easily cleaned, through alcohol or gamma sterilisation and reused for that patient meaning less material being incinerated. It eliminates the big, intimidating, one size fits all mask that is currently being used.”

Butterfly Micro-scooter — When it is folded the “Butterfly fits in any pocket or backpack. Through a quick drawing of the control knob, the Butterfly opens in seconds and is ready for use.” It easily closes to its Butterfly when no longer in use. When closed, “dirty and protruding parts are sealed by [the] Butterfly [which] can [then] be safely [stored] in [its] bag.”

BIQUATTRO — “BIQUATTRO is a pedelec, an electric bike-tricycle, which can be operated using [either electric or] muscle power. When transporting heavy loads, [BIQUATTRO] can be divided into two [by spreading] the rear wheel thus convert[ing] it into a trike.”

Air Free Intravenous Infusions — “Air Free is a redesigned ‘drip chamber’ (a common component in all IV drip setups) which prevents air entrainments in intravenous drip lines – specifically entrainments as a result of rigid fluid containers. It works by the addition of a floating flexible seal. The seal floats when there is liquid in the drip chamber and when the infusion container empties – causing the fluid level in the drip chamber to fall – the seal descends and engages. As a result of this the drip line is held primed, and air is not entrained.”

I’ll think that you’ll agree that these products all have practical applications as well as being clever designs. They all deserve the recognition they have received — and the winner, announced this morning, is … the LONGREACH Buoyancy Deployment System designed by Australian student Samuel Adeloju [“Life-Saving ‘Buoyancy Bazooka’ Wins 2010 James Dyson Award,” by Cliff Kuang, Co.Design, 5 October 2010]. Kimberley Hoffman, from the Academy of Art University in California, won second place with her design for the SeaKettle and Lars Imhof and Marc Binder, of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern in Switzerland, won third place, with their REAX resuscitator. Congratulations to the winners as well as all of finalists.