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James Dyson Award 2012: Kiwi in international top 15

Revival vest uses
smart fabric technology to monitor respiration and changes
to the body which can occur during drowning.

Revival vest

Press release

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

James Dyson Award 2012: International judging names Kiwi in top 15

The international judges of the James Dyson Award have selected a shortlist of fifteen entries to go through to the final of the James Dyson Award. Over 500 projects from 18 countries have been whittled down to the top 15. The successful entries will now be reviewed by James Dyson and his senior engineers. The winner will be revealed on 8th November.

Full details of each project can be viewed at: but please find below a quick snapshot of the top 15, including New Zealand designer, James McNab of Tauranga.


New Zealand – Revival Vest

Problem: Free fall diving is extremely dangerous. In recent years many divers have drowned due to blacking out whilst under water.

Solution: Revival vest uses smart fabric technology to monitor respiration and changes to the body which can occur during drowning. Once it detects a change, Revival Vest automatically inflates to bring the user to the surface and to safety.

Its designer, 22 year old Victoria University industrial design graduate, James McNab of Tauranga, says his design was motivated by the death of a friend from a shallow-water blackout during free diving.

UK – Safety Net

Problem: Deep sea fishing is unsustainable. It is indiscriminate and captures fish too young or small to be taken to market. This leads to waste as millions of dead fish are chucked back into the sea every year and fish stocks dwindle.

Solution: SafetyNet uses a series of rings to offer young and unmarketable fish an escape route from the trawler net. The rings utilise kinetic energy to create exit signs and guide fish to safety.

USA - The Beth Project

Problem: There are over 30 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America who require prosthesis. Prosthetic limbs are very expensive and can be uncomfortable because they don’t fit properly, hindering everyday life. Most prosthetics use rigid materials leading patients to often replace them due to weight and height change. This is costly and difficult in developing countries where transport is an issue.

Solution: The Beth Project is a pain-free, affordable, self-adjusting limb that can last the patient for a life-time. This not only reduces costs but allows the patient to lead the most normal life possible travelling further and more efficiently.

Austria – Smart Aid

Problem: It can be difficult to administer first aid to people in dangerous locations. First aid vehicles can be slow and sometimes find it difficult to reach victims.

Solution: Smart Aid uses an unmanned aerial vehicle linked up to your smart phone to ask for or provide help in times of need. The app also helps to offer advice to those in trouble.

Singapore - Fil’o

Problem: Parents who suffer from hearing problems are not able to tell when their child requires attention.

Solution: Fil’o is a device that connects child and parent through vibrations and light. Using a wrist watch, a light and a monitor the parent is alerted to their child’s needs throughout the day and night time.

UK – Alto

Problem: Sewing machines are clunky and complicated which puts people off learning to sew. The lack of proficient sewers means that mendable clothes are being thrown away.

Solution: Alto is sleek and attractive and designed with beginners in mind. It simplifies threading using a metal guide which runs from reel to needle. Speed is controlled by a foot pump and by pressing with your fingers as you sew.

Germany – Emergency Airdrop

Problem: Delivering aid in areas which cannot be reached by land or by boat is a challenge. Rescue workers can’t reach those in need and rely on planes but parachutes are expensive and often aid is lost.

Solution: Made up of two elements: a cargo container and a three winged system, it mimics the passive flight of the sycamore seed to bring the aid to land smoothly.


Australia - Reach and Match

Problem: Braille literacy is falling. 50 years ago 51% of blind children used braille as a primary reading medium but by 2011 this fell to just 9%. Students who are said to be able to read braille on average acquire higher literacy rates and we risk seeing this rate fall even more.

Solution: Reach and Match is a toy for both blind and visually impaired children to learn braille. This device also introduces young children to patterns, symbols and spatial awareness, core skills for childhood development.


USA – GiraDora

Problem: With no running water or drainage in developing countries the burden of washing clothes can be great. Washing clothes by hand is time consuming, can cause stress on your back and can be very costly using up large amounts of water.

Solution: Gira Dora is a human powered washer and spin dryer. With this new device the time it takes to wash clothes decreases dramatically. The average hand-wash can take up to 1 hour, GiraDora reduces the time to around 3 to 5 minutes. This device’s upright operation combats the issue of back pain. This device allows you to use 1/3 less water.

Australia – O2 Pursuit

Problem: With an ever increasing global population, environmental impact and sustainability become more and more difficult to keep under control.

Solution: O2 pursuit is a motorbike which replaces petrol with air, using a Rotary Air engine. This engine is powered by air which is compressed using solar and wind energy.

USA - Balde a Balde

Problem: Worldwide over 780 million people are without access to clean water resulting in more than 3.4 million deaths. 99% of these deaths are in the developing world. Day to day tasks involve water being transferred between buckets leading to contamination and spillage.

Solution: This device is an affordable portable tap eliminating the unhygienic and messy transfer of water from bucket to bucket, saving water and decreasing the potential for contamination.

UK – Stephoe

Problem: Farmers in developing countries are sustaining serious back injuries and upper body fatigue from over use of the traditional hoe.

Solution: Stephoe features a foot step which allows the hoe to be levered into the ground without strain to the user.


Spain – Hop!

Problem: Suitcases are heavy and cumbersome to lug around an airport - a frustrating precursor to a holiday.

Solution: Hop follows its owner obediently by detecting signals from their mobile phone. Using these signals it keeps at a constant distance from its owner.

France – LOUIS

Problem: Modern cities can appear like drab concrete jungles, lacking in colour and character particularly as we begin to develop our cities more to house our ever growing population.

Solution: Louis is a special kind of concrete floor surface which reacts with water to reveal decorative patterns. When it rains the water hits the concrete it creates geometric shapes.

Holland – ReWired

Problem: Rooms used for different functions require varying lighting styles to create the right environment. With fixed ceiling lighting this becomes extremely difficult.

Solution: Using a cable and pully system, ReWired enables you to adjust the location of a ceiling light.



The James Dyson Award

• This year’s competition saw over 500 entries for the international prize from 18 countries.

• The James Dyson Award is run by the James Dyson Foundation, a registered charity supporting design, technology and engineering education, medical research charities and local community projects. The James Dyson Foundation works with schools and universities around the UK and internationally.

• The award was open to any student of product design, industrial design or design engineering (or graduate within four years of graduation) who is studying or studied in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA.

• In 2001, New Zealand was the first of Dyson’s markets to run the James Dyson Award.

• For the past two years Australian students have won the international James Dyson Award. The 2011 winner was Edward Linacre from Swinburne University (Victoria) with Airdrop a cleverly engineered irrigation system that created water from air.

• This year Dyson have employed 100 more engineers and by the end of the year this figure will have doubled. Graduate design engineers, mechanical engineers and acoustic engineers are among those joining the UK team. Several previous award winners and runners-up have gone on to be employed by Dyson.


Howard Lichter (USA) is the Global Director for Creative Outreach at Nike. Howard works within the global design community, as well as expanding the development programming for Nike’s internal team of 600 designers.

Clara Gaggero (UK) is head of design and research at Vitamins Design. She trained as an Industrial Designer at the Institute of Technology in Turin, before coming to London where she studied Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College and Industrial Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art.

Anne-Marie Boutin (France) is the president of the APCI (Agency for the promotion of industrial design) and currently a member of the selection committee for UNESCO’s Design 21 programme, part of the scientific council of the State College of Design and the government council of ESCT and the EID, an international design school (Euromed).

Brandon Gien (Australia) is Managing Director of Good Design Australia and Chair of the Australian International Design Awards. In 2011, Brandon was elected to the position of President-Elect of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID), the first Australian to hold this position. He sits on the Advisory Board of the Design Research Institute of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) where he chairs the Design Challenge program.

Benson Saw (Singapore) started off as a mechanical engineer at Boston University and then went on to pursuing a diploma in product design at the Royal College of Art. Benson is one half of award winning design team voonwong&bensonsaw, a prestigious architecture and design company.


8th November- the international James Dyson Award winner will be announced. The winner will receive: £10,000 (for the student or the team) and £10,000 for the winner’s university department. There will be two runners up for the overall James Dyson award, each will receive £2000.

For more information on the work of the James Dyson Foundation and news visit or

Follow this link to the ‘opening of entries’ YouTube video for the JDA 2012.

The 2013 James Dyson Award will open for entries in early 2013 – visit for more information.


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