Form, Function and Footprint
New Zealand duo’s invention among top 20 student entries shortlisted globally for the James Dyson Award, helping to
transform sustainability and social impact
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 around the world highlight that inventors are no longer just considering
the form and function of their designs, they are considering their environmental footprint too. The shortlisted
inventors, which for the first time comprises 50% females, continue to show determination to improve lives through
genius applications of science and technology, but also capture the notion that impact is two-fold: both social and
environmental, and comes from, not just the application of the product, but the way it has been manufactured and the
materials used in its design.
Peter Gammack, VP of Design and New Technology at Dyson said: “The breadth and ambition of the entries we have seen this year is outstanding. Young engineers are restless in the face
of global issues, and they see technology as a catalyst for creating a better future. They demonstrate clearly how
simple ingenious concepts have the power to revolutionise the way people live.”
Chosen by Dyson engineers from more than four thousand 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.
Approximately 80% of Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s 1,000 annual lifesaving rescues are caused by rip currents, and
studies show that drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand. These designers, Hannah
Tilsley and Chamonix Stuart of Victoria University of Wellington, wanted to design a product that would help detect a
rip current to warn beachgoers of the hidden dangers to prevent drownings and rescues due to rip currents. The “Nah,
Yeah Buoy” is 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. See a video of
their potentially life-saving invention here
Uma Smith, Cocoon – USA
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.4 million Americans have active epilepsy. Epileptic
seizures can be dangerous for not only an epileptic, but for by-standers as well. Seizure safe spaces are not always
easy to locate and by-standers are often uninformed in seizure recognition and first aid. Uma Smith set out to solve
Cocoon is a smart epileptic seizure protection and alert device. When an epileptic experiences 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 pre-designated 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.
Frederique Sunstrum, Continuity – Australia
Diabetes is an increasing worldwide epidemic, and impacts 1 in 10 individuals worldwide. The current invasive diabetic
devices used to monitor and treat diabetics could be unsafe at times, painful and time consuming.
Continuity challenges the current issues of invasive diabetic devices used today by taking advantage of the newest
technology to monitor glucose levels and deliver insulin 'non-invasively'. It is a device which harnesses GlucoWise's
technology and applies it in a continuous 24/7 glucose monitoring earring device. One side of the device transmits
radio-frequency waves through the earlobe, clearing the skin layers, generating a clear picture of the blood cells for
the sensor to read the glucose levels on the other side of the earlobe. The device then vibrates to alert users of
change in glucose levels and sends alerts to their phone to initiate action. Furthermore, the insulin delivery device is
a non-invasive handheld oral device that is sprayed in the mouth, where the pre-dosed insulin is then absorbed into the
inner lining of the cheeks.
MarinaTex – UK
The inspiration for MarinaTex is a genuine belief that we should focus on form, function and footprint when thinking
about design and engineering. Lucy, the inventor, solves two problems: the ubiquity of single-use plastic and fish
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 weeks and doesn’t require its own national waste
Aeroflux Contactless Brake – Canada
Aviation must become more sustainable in order to address the global threat of climate change. Aerospace manufacturers
worldwide have committed to reducing aviation carbon emissions by 50% from 2005-2050. One of the most wasteful systems
on a modern aircraft is the brakes.
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 results in a braking torque.
Sumo – Switzerland
Disposable diapers are the third largest single item contributor to landfills, and take 500 years to decompose. Diapers
are an essential item for all babies but we need to find a way of making them more sustainable. Sumo presents a solution
as a biodegradable and absorbent diaper made with antibacterial fibers 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
Gecko Traxx – Australia
In countries who are able to enjoy a coastline, manual wheelchair users can struggle to make the most of the countries
they live in. 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.
Schistoscope – Netherlands
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 disease is most commonly found in Africa, as well as Asia and South America. Around 700 million
people, in more than 70 countries, live in areas where the disease is common.
The Schistoscope provides 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
Ubitone – Japan
Whilst there is a tremendous variety in the degrees of vision and hearing loss, across the globe, deaf-blindness is set
to increase. In most cases, deaf-blindness develops later in life and so will impact those countries with acute ageing
populations the most. Braille, the most common system of reading and writing for the blind and visually impaired was
invented in 1821, and has remained virtually unchanged to this day.
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. Simply put, it is an alternative to Braille.
By using vocal recognition as a machine learning technique and the Braille dictionary, Ubitone translate the voice into
an understandable form for deaf-blindness. The device uses six rings with vibrators worn on the fingers, and transmits a
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. This could open up a new world for the deaf-blind as they are no
longer restricted by Braille. Podcasts, TV shows and radio will be accessible in real-time.
James Dyson Award
The competition 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. With
students from 27 nations now competing, the award is set to welcome new approaches to a broader range of global social
and environmental issues than ever before.
Since the competition first opened fifteen years ago, the iconic inventor has already contributed over £1m to
championing boundary-breaking concepts. To help finalists to develop their novel idea, each year the overall winner is
awarded £30,000, and winners in each participating region receive £2,000. Unlike other competitions, participants are
given full autonomy over their intellectual property.
The James Dyson Award forms part of a wider commitment by Sir James Dyson, to demonstrate the power of engineers to
change the world. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology
, the James Dyson Foundation
and James Dyson Award
embody a vision to empower aspiring engineers, encouraging them to apply their theoretical knowledge and discover new
ways to improve lives through technology.
Notes to Editors
Images and video:
Download high resolution images of Hannah and Chamonix’s Nah Yeah Buoy here.
View or embed this video featuring Hannah and Chamonix with their invention here
What is the prize? The international prize is £30,000 for the student and £5,000 for the student’s university department. National winners
were awarded £2,000 each.
Who can enter the James Dyson Award? Any university level student of product design, industrial design or engineering, or graduate within four years of
graduation, who is studying or studied in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India,
Italy, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Spain, South
Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, the UAE, the UK and the USA.
For more information and regular updates on the progress of the James Dyson Award, check out the James Dyson Foundation