In society’s next wave of sustainability progress, design skills will need to feature heavily. This year’s top 20 students shortlisted for the James Dyson Award highlight that inventors are no longer just considering the form and function of their designs, they are considering their environmental footprint too.
The James Dyson Award is open to student inventors with the ability and ambition to solve the problems of tomorrow. Winning solutions are selected by Sir James Dyson and show ingenuity, iterative development and commercial viability.
Here are the top 20 international inventions that qualify for the James Dyson Award:
MarinaTex is a biodegradable alternative to single-use plastic, made of organic fish waste and locally sourced red algae. While it may look and feel like plastic, its similarities end there. It is stronger, safer and much more sustainable than its oil-based counterpart.
Using a unique formula of red algae to bind the proteins extracted from fish waste, MarinaTex has strong overlapping bonds giving it strength and flexibility. MarinaTex is home compostable, meaning it will disintegrate in your food waste disposal at home within 4-6 week and doesn’t require its own national waste management infrastructure.
2. Aeroflux Contactless Brake
Conventional multiple-disc carbon brakes rely on friction to stop an aircraft. They wear very quickly and need constant replacement.
Aeroflux brakes use the principle of ‘eddy current braking’ to stop an aircraft without friction, and therefore without wear. A magnetic field is applied to both sides of two conductive, non-ferromagnetic discs (rotors). The rotors are keyed to the aircraft wheel and rotate through the magnetic field when the wheels are spinning. As the rotors move across the stationary magnetic field, small circular electric currents (eddy currents) are induced in the rotors. The eddy currents generate their own magnetic field in a direction which opposes the stationary magnetic field. The interaction of these fields applies a drag force on the rotors that result in a braking torque.
Solution for disposable diapers garbage.
Sumo presents a solution as a biodegradable and absorbent diaper made with antibacterial fibres from eucalyptus and algae extracts. Sumo is the very first mono-material diaper, making it ideal for recycling. It minimises waste, handling, time and cost in the recycling process.
Schistosomiasis is caused by a parasitic worm which lives in fresh water in subtropical and tropical regions. Schistosomiasis affected about 252 million people worldwide in 2015, and an estimated 4,400 to 200,000 people die from it each year.
The Schistoscope provides a point of care access to Schistosomiasis diagnostics by simplifying the diagnosis process. It captures the urine sample in one picture, created by a new way of filtering and an algorithm detects the level of infection. It is a simple yet smart onsite diagnostic device. Using the Schistoscope, up to 50 tests can be performed in a day, significantly improving the control and elimination of Schistosomiasis in the remote areas by bringing access to affordable diagnosis.
5. Gecko Traxx
Gecko Traxx is a portable and affordable manual wheelchair accessory that enables off-road access. The unique tyre cross-section is unobtrusive when fitted to the wheelchair and expands when in contact with the ground, increasing the contact surface area by three times when needed. The simple, integrated clip can be used even with limited dexterity and enables the individual to fit the tyres to their wheelchair independently without the need to transfer out of the wheelchair.
Solution for diabetes. Continuity non-invasively monitors glucose levels through an earring device which uses radiofrequency waves and a sensor to monitor blood cells and a vibration to alert the user to a change in glucose levels. A complimentary handheld insulin delivery device delivers insulin through an oral spray. Both devices communicate through Bluetooth to an app which can be monitored by healthcare professionals.
Solution for microplastic pollution.
The Eddy is a retrofittable filtration system for washing machines that uses a vortex and a micro-mesh filter to prevent microfibres from building up and passing out of the machine along with the wastewater. A vacuum hose can be connected to the device to clean captured fibres.
8. Air Disc Cooling Technologies
AirDisc Cooling Technologies system replaces more than century-old technology which ties humans as dependent victims of chemical refrigerants. It uses air with ten per cent (10%) energy use only.
Caeli was developed to enable asthmatic patients to stay healthy during poor air quality spells and improve their quality of life. It is an antipollution mask which filters air via a six-layer filter (Particulate, Carbon and HEPA) and centrifugal fan to provide a continuous flow of purified air. The mask also contains sensors which monitor air quality, sending data to an app and a drug nebuliser which allows the user to take medication when required.
10. Nah, Yeah Buoy
Rip currents are one of the leading causes of rescues by beach lifeguards and deaths by drowning in many countries including New Zealand.
A team in New Zealand designed the “Nah, Yeah buoy”, an adaptive system for water safety designed to identify rip currents near beaches, visualise their locations and movements, and provide interactive alerts and warnings for lifeguards and water users. Each buoy has a customised fluid flow sensor at the bottom to measure the strength and speed of water as it flows through.
A high-intensity light placed on the top indicates the level of danger, while the buoy also transmits information to an app for use by lifeguards.
PROLO is the interlocking system of the helmet and lock of the bicycle for children. It is intended to ensure that children wear helmets even where parents cannot see them. An infrared LED and phototransistor are used to detect when a helmet is being worn, only unlocking the bike mechanism if the helmet is present.
12. Self-sanitizing door handle
The self-sanitising door handle aims to minimise the risk of infection spread via door handles using advanced photocatalytic technology and blacklight technology to decompose bacteria on the handle.
Ubitone is a communication device to assist deaf-blind people. By using this invention, the deaf-blind can communicate with people without special knowledge like tactile signing.
By using vocal recognition as a machine learning technique and the Braille dictionary, Ubitone translates the voice into an understandable form for deaf-blindness. The device uses six rings with vibrators worn on the fingers and transmits vibration through to the fingers, similar to Braille. The app on a smartphone performs processing and communicates information by linking with the device via Bluetooth.
14. With U
With U is a recovery product for neurogenic bladder patients. It tracks bladder capacity, controls urination frequency to prevent disuse atrophy and helps rebuild urination reflex.
Airin is a medical instrument designed to improve the quality of life and to shorten the stay in the hospital of post-operative ostomy patients. The device uses air isolation and a pumping system in an innovative closed circuit to prevent ulcers.
FloaX is a new design for a ditch cover which operates by using buoyancy to reduce mosquitoes and the spread of disease. At rest, the float closes the hole to prevent mosquitoes and stench. When draining, the water will float the float away from the shutter to facilitate drainage. When flooding, the water lifts the flaps and floats by buoyancy, blocking the upper openings to reduce the surge.
Afflo is an AI-enabled wearable device to monitor asthmatic symptoms and predict triggers, allowing users to make data-driven decisions about their asthma management. Afflo collects respiratory audio signals through a specialised microphone. This is tracked along with environmental information collected through a secondary sensor bundle and analysed via a machine-learning algorithm to predict each patient’s unique trigger pattern.
Cocoon is a smart epileptic seizure protection and alert device. When an epileptic experience an aura at the beginning of a seizure, they open Cocoon, lie on their side, and slip Cocoon over the top of their head, leaving their face unobstructed.
Magnetic sensors detect when the device has been opened and alerts predesignated caretakers of the epileptic’s GPS coordinates. An accelerometer detects convulsions while a cell connected chip calls an ambulance if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes.
PeritoneX allows for safe at-home dialysis by internally disinfecting contaminated dialysis tube ends to prevent infection.
The device uses a vacuum mechanism to flush 0.55% sodium hypochlorite into the connection space to disinfect connected tube ends. After a 2 second dwell time, the syringe automatically retracts, withdrawing the solution from the chamber without requiring assistance from the patient. The disinfection process occurs in a closed system, which is maintained during dialysis treatment, to prevent secondary contamination events, and does not require the patient to be vigilant to potential contamination.
The Tilbaka is an alternative back brace which applies pressure to the body to correct the curvature of the spine. With the help of a flexible pressure sensor it can collect data to improve the care and functionality of the brace. The integration of digital systems and the use of adjustable pressure pads makes it possible to not only customize the brace on the form of the patient but also on the specific activities of the patient.
Chosen by Dyson engineers from thousands of finalists in 27 participating nations, these 20 projects will now be presented to Sir James Dyson who will select the overall winner and two runners-up.