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Annual Award Recognises Kiwi Ingenuity

Annual Award Recognises Kiwi Ingenuity - A Lifesaving Device And One For The Blind

A life-saving, 'man-overboard' boating device and a digital talking book for the blind, are the two finalist products in the fourth annual Dyson Product Design Award.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony to be held in Auckland next Wednesday, 21 July to recognise and reward a new generation of emerging Kiwi designers with product design ideas that best demonstrate innovative and inspiring solutions to everyday problems.

Auckland-based design graduate Leon Oliver's 'Sentinel' is designed to protect a crew member who has fallen overboard at sea. The user can climb into a raft, which has been remotely deployed from the vessel by the victim using an electronic watch. The watch is also designed to activate an onboard alarm to alert the crew to the accident.

Leon, a yachtsman and recent design graduate, said one of the most terrifying aspects of crossing oceans is the possibility of losing a crew member overboard.

"Sometimes the nearest help can be as far away as 24 hours or more. And often, when a victim falls overboard, the crew may not be aware of the accident which threatens the victim's chance of survival.

"In designing the Sentinel, I hoped to overcome these obstacles through creating a unique product that redefines the level of protection a boat owner can offer their crew," said Leon.

The 25 year old's design consists of the digital watch and a raft which is held in place at the stern of the boat by a deployment arm.

Fellow inventor and Bachelor of Design graduate Helena Webster, age 23, was also named a top contender for the Award with her entry 'Insight - Products for the Blind'.

Insight, a toolkit for a blind person, consists of four devices - a digital talking book, earphones, scanner and a recharger, and enables reading and mobility tasks to be easier for the sight-impaired.

The digital talking book functions to convert text from the internet and CDs into speech and braille, which can be downloaded into the book and 'read to' the user via synthetic speech or if converted into braille, the text can be 'read by' the user. The digital book is the size of a standard paperback, and has been designed with buttons and keys that can be flicked up or down to turn each page of the electronic book - not unlike the physical act of flicking pages of a regular book.

The Christchurch-based designer's handheld scanner has a two-fold function - the ultrasound technology can be used to detect obstacles, vibrating when the user nears an obstacle and synthetic speech via an earphone tells the blind person how far away the object is. Alternatively, the tool also adopts text-to-speech technology to enable a blind person to read menus, food labels, bills in the mail and even a newspaper.

Helena says in designing her entry, the process was unlike any other.

"It was challenging coming from the perspective as a designer I think visually. This helped with creating the aesthetic product, but it was more important for me to explore how the blind user would understand the product through touch."

The Dyson Product Design Award is open to final year tertiary students studying in the areas of design, technology or engineering, and to graduates in these areas who are in their first five years of work force.

The 2004 award winner will be named a British Council New Zealand Design Ambassador and will travel to the UK with $3,000 travelling expenses where they'll have the opportunity to meet with James Dyson, inventor of the Dyson and chairman of the Design Council, London, and other key members of the UK design community. Plus they'll receive a year's membership to the Designer's Institute of New Zealand and an invitation to join the D&AD Getty Images Bloodbank - an online database of international design talent.

And for the first time, the winner will this year have the opportunity to compete for Dyson Blue Print, a global design award to be won by the best of other national level competition winners from around the world. The winner of Dyson Blue Print will receive over $15,000 cash prize, a unique chance to interact with Dyson RDD and the opportunity to gain global visibility and recognition.

Bina Klose, the Award's head judge, said both finalists reflected the Award criteria and the Dyson philosophy - demonstrating a commitment to intelligent, function-first design.

"When assessing each entry we asked whether each new product solves a problem? Then we asked whether it goes beyond this to show true innovation.

"Both finalists' entries have combined a number of existing technologies and devices and combined them to a complete product solution that provides an added value offering," said Bina.

The Dyson Award was set up in 2001 by Avery Robinson, the distributors of Dyson in New Zealand, and in association with the British Council New Zealand Design Ambassador Programme, the Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ) and PRODESIGN, to recognise and reward up and coming Kiwi designers with product design ideas that best demonstrate innovative and inspiring solutions to everyday problems.

Says James Dyson: "Design, engineering and technology are vitally important for the future: so we need to challenge the assumption that careers in industry are dull. Using your hands and brains to solve problems is an enormous creative challenge. This understanding should begin in education. We need to direct our young talent into the core task of putting research and creativity back into making products that the world wants."


Mitchell Curd of Mt Cook, Wellington: 'Linc - Sight for Sound'

Duncan Edwards of Howick, Auckland: '275'

Bryan Terry of Hastings: 'Climate - Solar Recreational Pack'

Todd Billing of Mt Victoria, Wellington: 'Huskee ATV'


Bina Klose (Head Judge) - Insight Creative, DINZ Council, Design Taskforce

Bina Klose is working with Insight Creative, a brand and packaging company. Bina completed a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Germany and has been in New Zealand since 1991.

A product representative for the Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ), she is also a member of the government initiated Design Taskforce. Bina was instrumental in helping to initiate the Design in Business Awards.

Mark Eaton - Director, Compuspec

Mark Eaton set up Compuspec, the award winning electronic design house in 1982. He has been responsible for the development of over a million products, mostly telecommunications solutions, to a range of export markets around the world.

Mark enjoys doing things differently just to show you can and to uncover hidden innovation that otherwise won't be discovered. He is qualified with a Bachelor of Electronics.

Nick Dearden - Managing Director, Deardens Limited

Nick Dearden is a recent arrival on Kiwi shores, from the UK where his successful product design consultancy, Deardens Limited, is based. From North Auckland, he will continue to consult to clients including Marks & Spencer, Nestle Geneva, Sony Creative Products and Disney UK.

A Design Council of Great Britain approved designer, Nick has won the Ideal Standard Tap for Europe competition and the in 2002, he was the winner of the Stretcher for Mountain Rescue competition.

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