As in previous years, the directive is simple: “design something that solves a problem.” And from household devices to medical equipment, the 20 finalists propose brilliant new ways to approaching enduring issues. Derived from 650 entries, they will vie for the $46,000 prize, awarded by James Dyson himself, and announced on November 7. Last year’s winner, the SafetyNet, by Dan Watson, is now in the trial phase, so this award definitely helps designers prototype and realize their ingenious inventions. Here, we highlight seven finalists. Equally deserving of recognition, the others can be viewed at jamesdysonaward.org.
1 OLTU by Fabio Molinas
Anyone who has ever thrown out fruits and vegetables that seem to have gone prematurely bad can appreciate this idea from Spanish student Fabio Molinas. The OLTU is an appliance that generates the optimal conditions for storing fresh produce – in four climate-controlled compartments: dry, cold wet, fresh wet and dry warm – and is powered by the excess heat that a refrigerator gives off.
2 BioWool by Dan McLoughlin
Take the waste from the coarse wool industry and turn it into a polymer. That’s the idea behind Biowool (shown here moulded into a suitcase; yes, that’s James Dyson with U.K. designer Dan McLoughlin). Rather than dumped in landfill, the wool is salvaged and carded, its fibres shredded and pulled together, before a bio-resin is added to render it a malleable plastic.
3 Automated suturing tool by Karl Price
Many exciting advancements are taking place in robotic surgery. Karl Price, and his team at the University of Waterloo, in Canada, are adding to this innovative realm with a device that will make laparascopic surgery (or keyhole surgery, often used for such abdominal procedures as gallbladder removal) more efficient. By removing the need for manual surturing, this device would help free up operating rooms and save money.
4 Handie by Hiroshi Yamaura
Combining 3-D printing and smartphone technology, the Handie by Japan’s Hiroshi Yamaura might just represent the future of affordable prosthetics. The 3-D printed hand’s surface picks up electrical impulses, which can be computed by a smartphone, while its myoelectric sensors can read brain signals. All of this input helps to move the hand, powered by just one motor.
5 Revolights by Kent Frankovich
This is a cool idea, both functionally and aesthetically. Rather than a small bike light – a clip-on that can be easily stolen or misplaced – why not turn the wheels into safety lights? Kent Frankovich, from the U.S., proposes LED rings that can be fastened onto a bike’s rims, and powered by lithium-ion batteries mounted to the hub. The front wheel shines white, while the back glows red, establishing the bike’s often hard-fought status as a road vehicle.
6 Sono by Rudolf Stefanich
One of the costs of living in a dense urban core is noise – from inside and out. The Sono is a window-mounted device with two complementary functions: it cancels noise and lets you choose the sounds you actually want to listen to. Through WiFi, its concentric rings of broadband antennae actually collect the energy of electromagnetic noise and harvest it to turn down the noise, or to allow you to tune the device to play more ear-pleasing tones.
7 Stack by Mugi Yamamoto
From the minimalist Swiss comes this bulk-free inkjet printer; thin and frame-like, it simply rests on a stack of papers, printing the top page, which emerges out of it, and moving down the pile as it continues.