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Inventor Gets Wake Up Call, Wins With Wakeboard

Inventor Gets Wake Up Call - Wins National Product Design Award

A safe wakeboard binding has picked up the coveted James Dyson Award for emerging product design, at an award ceremony held in Auckland tonight.

Julian Schloemer, a 23 year old industrial design graduate from Massey University, says his invention, Lucid, aims to reduce the incidence of wakeboarding injuries, which are on ACC’s list of top ten adventure sport claims in New Zealand.

“I’ve experienced a knee injury from wakeboarding, which is common when a wakeboard hits the water at full force, with one foot coming out of the binding while the other is still attached to the board. Current wakeboard bindings are designed to hold feet onto a board, even after a fall. This increases the chance of injuries when one or both feet cannot be freed.

“Lucid’s main difference is its release mechanism guaranteed to let go of the rider’s feet when certain pressure is applied,” says Julian.

The Christchurch designer says his product’s release system is also designed to make getting in and out of wet bindings much easier than current wakeboard bindings. It can differentiate between tricks and falls by the rider’s angles, and by programming an adjuster that opens bindings easier for novices.

While Julian has researched the marketplace and produced a prototype, the product is at concept stage only, and he would welcome an opportunity to commercialise his design.

Open to design and engineering students and recent graduates, the James Dyson Award recognises emerging designers whose work demonstrates the ability to think differently and create products that solve problems and work better than existing products.

The judges, headed by designer David Lovegrove, member of the Designer’s Institute of New Zealand, said that Julian’s design reflected the Award criteria and the Dyson philosophy, which is about making products work better.

“The James Dyson Award is about reinvention. Sir James Dyson reinvented the vacuum cleaner and Julian Schloemer has reinvented the wakeboard binding. He has seen safety issues and functional deficiencies in the current product, and created a new design that resolves them.

“Lucid is the accumulation of a number of innovative features that combined, make a unique product,” says the head judge.

David adds the award winning designer stood out because he has shown a maturity of design skills and design thinking.

“Julian’s own experiences and injury has given him the insight to explore new opportunities in a product with many features that benefit the wake boarder and which display a leap in technical sophistication.”

The other two finalist designs are the work of Massey University industrial design graduate, Nichola Trudgen for Wanderest, and AUT product design students, Reid Douglas and Mark Wu, for Tri-Cast.

Wanderest is a detachable seat designed to be strapped to public spaces, such as a lamp post, as a resting stop for the aged. Tri Cast is an alternative to the traditional moon boot - a splint worn to aid recovery from leg injuries, by immobilising parts of the leg. It differs from a one piece moon boot as it’s worn on the leg in three parts, and as the wearer progresses through their rehabilitation, they discard each part.

Julian was also named a British Council New Zealand Design Ambassador, and will travel to the UK with $3,000 traveling expenses and accommodation, have the opportunity to tour Dyson’s world class Research, Design and Development facility, and meet with other key members of the UK design community. Plus, he can select an official fee prize package from the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) tailored to his design’s intellectual property needs, $3,000 worth of legal advice provided by Farry.Co Law, a Dyson handheld cleaner and a year’s membership to the Designer’s Institute of New Zealand.

Six New Zealand entries, including the three national finalists, will progress to online judging in the international James Dyson Award competition. The global James Dyson Award winner will be announced in October 2010 and together with their university, they will win a total prize fund of £20,000 or local currency equivalent.

The Dyson Award was set up in 2001 by Avery Robinson, the distributors of Dyson in New Zealand. It is hosted in association with the British Council New Zealand, DINZ, Farry.Co Law and IPONZ 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, engineer and inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner:

“Design surrounds us. It inspires us. It makes more things possible. As our need for good design and technology increases so does the need for innovative and adventurous designers, engineers and scientists.

“If you think you have a way of making something better, don’t be afraid to be different, and don’t give up if people reject your ideas, trust your instincts. We want to encourage future generations of design engineers.”

All entries can be viewed on


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