With approximately 285 million visually impaired people around the world who can often face challenges with everyday tasks, innovative solutions are always welcome.
This year’s Australian national James Dyson Award winner attempts to solve this problem with Macaron, a smart tape measuring device that "intuitively measures and records distance to help the visually impaired".
It has been designed and created by four Queensland University of Technology students — Jake Dean, Yuma Decaux, Woo Sung Jung and Weng Hou Chan — who will win £2000 for their design project.
So, where did the inspiration for this device come from?
"The device is able to take measurement without needing to read the markings, but also connects via Bluetooth to a mobile device.
"The app can be used to pre-set the object and distances to be measured. Voice input is also available for the setup and all can be saved to the phone app with the press of a button.
"The team hopes that one day the universal design of Macaron will benefit everyone with some form of disability, not just the blind."
Dean said: “People with little to no vision need to rely heavily on specialised measuring devices, but we hope that Macaron will become the common and everyday household product that leads to a new way of measuring, recording and thinking.
"Our team is so excited to be recognised with this year’s James Dyson Award and can’t wait to see what the future holds for the device.”
Here's a video from the Macaron team, the article continues below, please read on!
This year, the three Australian judges — tech writer Trevor Long, Code Like a Girl Founder Ally Watson and QUT professor Sue Keay — reviewed more than 25 entries across the country before selecting the coveted title for the Australian winner, followed by two runners-up.
The Macaron design "will now progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award with the hope to commercialise the product and win up to £30,000 along with two Australian runners-up including H2 Snow (Tim Lutton from RMIT University) and Indra Mosquito Zapper (Paul Eterovich from Swinburne University of Technology)".
H2 Snow is the world’s first alpine survival tool that converts snow into drinking water by human power. Inspiration to create the product came from designer Paul Eterovich, whose friend was stranded for two days in the snow without water. Snow shouldn’t be consumed without melting it first because it can cause dehydration and hypothermia. The H2 Snow is a one litre drink bottle which melts snow by creating heat through friction and pulverising the snow through a spinning blade.
Here's the H2 Snow video, the article continues thereafter!
The Indra Mosquito Zapper is an insect control device made from recycled materials. Inspiration for the design came from mosquito borne diseases, which are a major public health problem in India, particularly to street vendors. Powered by renewable energy such as wind and solar, the device creates electricity to zap and kill mosquitoes. Once fully charged, the stored electricity also creates light and, via its USB port, power for a number of everyday uses.
Here's the Indra Mosquito Zapper video, please read on afterward:
Who is the competition open to?
The competition is open to student inventors with the ability and ambition to solve the problems of tomorrow. Winning solutions are selected by Sir James Dyson and show ingenuity, iterative development and commercial viability.
This year Mexico, the UAE, Sweden and the Philippines have joined the global contest. With students from 27 nations now competing, the award is set to welcome new approaches to a broader range of global issues than ever before.
Since the competition began 14 years ago, the iconic inventor has already contributed over £1 million to championing boundary-breaking concepts.
To help finalists develop their novel idea, each year the overall winner is awarded £30,000, and winners in each participating region receive £2000. Unlike other competitions, participants are given full autonomy over their intellectual property.
The James Dyson Award forms "part of a wider commitment by Sir James Dyson, to demonstrate the power of engineers to change the world.
"The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, the James Dyson Foundation and James Dyson Award embody a vision to empower aspiring engineers, encouraging them to apply their theoretical knowledge and discover new ways to improve lives through technology."