Every year, Dyson asks industrial designers, product designers, and engineers to submit their smart solution to a problem — any problem. It's an awesomely broad request, and it usually results in some pretty fascinating entries. Leading up to this year's Dyson Award, we took a look at just a tiny fraction of the entries.
Yesterday, we looked at a device that would make a smarter alternative to crutches. But below, you'll find a whole range of other objects that solve problems that span from sunburns, to agriculture, to packaging design. Check out more of the entries here.
A Marker That Tells You When Your Sun Lotion Has Worn Off
Despite its questionable name, Suncayr is a smart idea: created by five nanotechnology engineers, this little marker lets you know when you need more sun lotion. It dispenses an "ink" that's sensitive to UV, changing colour depending on whether those dangerous rays are getting through to your sensitive skin or not.
A Device That Makes a Vital Job 100 Times Faster
In eastern Africa, peanut farming is a common source of income; but it's a slow, labor-intensive job, especially for those with disabilities who might otherwise benefit from the income. Designer Charles Williams created a simple mechanism that makes the task of de-shelling peanuts as much as 100 times faster — he estimates that it could save 1.98 billion hours of labor every year.
A Backpack That Helps Move Bedridden Patients
As anyone who's ever cared for someone who can't move knows, helping an immobile patient turn in bed is a surprisingly daunting task. The idea behind Flipod is to make that process a little simpler, thanks to a cloth wrap around the patient that can be manipulated as needed by the caregiver — who inflates one of two air bladders to help the person begin turning or sitting up. These pouches can be adjusted with embedded magnets, too.
An Oven For the Developing World That Runs on the Sun
Infinity Bakery is exactly what it sounds like: An oven that only needs the suns rays to bake. For plenty of people in developing communities, ovens are a crucial part of daily life—but they require expensive, tough-to-come-by fuel in the form of firewood, coal, or other fossil fuels. Which also happen to be quite dangerous.
This device uses a broad parabolic dish to focus in the rays, creating enough heat to sustain baking at 220 degrees — with nothing but the sun. According to engineer Keno Mario-Ghae, each oven only takes two days to build.
Packaging That Tells You When Food is Bad by Touch
Sure, we trust the printed-out labels on supermarket meat because, really, we don't have a choice. Bump Mark, created by Solveiga Pakstaite, intends to remove the middle man (the supermarket) from the equation by telling people how fresh the meat truly is, thanks to chemistry.
It's done with a small tag containing a bumpy layer beneath a thin strip of gelatin. If the meat is still good, the tag will feel smooth. If it's bad, you'll feel the bumps at the bottom of the tag. How? Well, gelatin decays around the same time protein does. As it gets older, it liquifies — revealing the pattern of the tag below it.
An Inflatable Incubator That Can Run on a Car Battery
Incubators seem like fairly innocuous tech to many of us, but they cost upwards of £30,000. In refugee camps all over the world, where 1,000 new babies are born for every 100,000 mothers, it just isn't plausible, either from a financial or functional perspective. Instead, the MOM incubator can actually be flattened for transport, then expanded and re-inflated for use. It's easy to use, and can run on nearly any available power source. Like car batteries, according to designer James Roberts.
A Cheap, Light, Water-Driven Power Plant
"1.4 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity", explains Andreas Zeiselmair, an environmental engineer from Germany. "Of which 300 million people live near rivers." Enter Mobile Hydro, a floating hydroelectric turbine that generates power when it's anchored in place to a moving body of water.