Created as part of the James Dyson Foundation, the James Dyson Awards have become a powerful spotlight for highlighting the incredible inventiveness of today’s young engineers.
Each year the JDA asks student engineers from all backgrounds to fulfil one clear vision: To think differently and to create something that succeeds in a way no other product has.
It’s a gruelling process where entrants from over 22 countries have to compete against the other and win over the judges.
Only once they win the national competition will they then have their invention seen by James Dyson himself. It’s worth it though, the winning student or student team receives £30,000 and £5,000 to their university department.
Previous winners have set the bar high, from creating a folding paper bike helmet that could save lives to an inflatable incubator that could be deployed anywhere in the developing world.
Here we’ll look back on the incredible inventions that won in the past:
The ingenious EcoHelmet
is an ultra-strong, recyclable cycling helmet that's waterproof for three hours and folds completely flat thanks to its honeycomb design.
Its designer Isis Shiffer created the helmet after using bike-sharing schemes around the world and realising that there was no easy, cheap access to safety equipment.
According to the Department of Transport, there were more than 3,200 serious injuries to cyclists on the roads in 2015.Ms Shiffer’s hope is to sell them alongside the bike sharing stations - like those found in London - for around £4 per helmet.
While the 3D printer has evolved at an astonishing pace, another form of rapid printing has sadly been left behind. This technology is the process of creating Printed Circuit Boards (PCB). They're used in everything from smartphones to medical devices and yet for engineers, inventors and students it takes an agonising amount of time to create them.
Considering the shortage of engineers in the UK (and the world), having a hurdle like this is unacceptable and it's something that four students from the University of Waterloo, Canada set to overcome.
Voltera is the result of that. It's a laptop-sized PCB printer that can turn design files into prototype printed circuit boards in just minutes. No more delays, no more unnecessary costs, now an inventor can create a circuit on their laptop and have it printed and ready to go within the hour.
Created by James Roberts, a 23 year old graduate from Loughborough University, the MOM is a low-cost incubator
that can be deployed anywhere and can run for up to 24 hours on just battery power alone.
Roberts’ design is a response to shocking statistics from the WHO that 75 per cent of deaths resulting from premature birth could be avoided if inexpensive treatments were more readily available in the developing world.
Modern incubators can cost upwards of £30,000 making them hugely expensive to both buy, and then distribute. Roberts’ new design costs just £250 and is fully portable.
Created by a team of mechanical engineering students from the University of Pennsylvania, Titan Arm is a robotic arm that can instantly increase human strength. Seeing the number of injuries that are caused by manual labour every single year, the team decided to develop a simple, cheap exoskeleton that could help rehabilitate people with back injuries. It can also work as a supplementary device for workers, helping them lift heavy loads without putting the inevitable strain on their upper body or back. What's really impressive about Titan Arm is that it costs just $2,000 to produce, a major reduction compared to similar exoskeletons that can cost $100,000 and upwards.
Royal College of Art student Dan Watson created SafetyNet as a means of protecting young and endangered fish from fishing trawlers. It's a beautifully simple concept: The net contains a series of escape holes that are lit up allowing smaller fish to pass safely through the trawler's haul. Watson created his net after discovering the staggering numbers of unmarketable fish that are caught and then thrown back into the sea dead each year.
Edward Linacre from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia created Aidrop after seeing the Murray Darling area of the country get hit by its worst drought in a century. his research found that crops were failing because of soil evaporation, to combat this he created a device that would capture that lost water and put it back into the soil. Airdrop works by taking in air and then running it through a series of underground pipes until it reaches the point of condensation. The water is then pumped directly to the root of the plants.
Created by Samuel Adeloju the Longreach Buoyancy Deployment System might look like some form of weapon but what it's actually firing is a life-saving buoyancy aid.The package that's fired uses hydrophobic or rapidly expanding foam to provide buoyancy and contains a light for attracting attention. In addition to being able to launch buoyancy aids it contains two veritcally launched Para-Flares for nightime illumination.
Automotist is a revolutionary sprinkler system that can be attached to any standard kitchen tap. Created by London product design graduates Yusuf Muhammad and Paul Thomas this little device can fill a room with a fine mist using the same water system that's connected to your tap. A tiny sensor built into the device detects a fire and then a motorised pump pushes mains water through the misting nozzles.
Reactiv won the JDA back in 2008 and was the brainchild of product design student Michael Chen. It is essentially a 'smart' cycling jacket that uses a series of sensors to help activate LED strips along the jacket. When you brake the LEDs turn red, alerting drivers around you. Raising your arm left or right will activate an indicator strip.
Senjo won the Dyson Awards back in 2007. It is an innovative sign-language translator that uses digital interfacing to interpret both the spoken word and hand movements which are then relayed back through speech and signs accordingly.