5 New Engineering Inventions Set to Change the World

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The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has launched the Start Your Story campaign for young engineers and innovators on their journey to becoming entrepreneurs.

Designed to inspire the next generation of engineers and technicians, Start Your Story wants to celebrate that, given the right platform and a helping hand, every engineer and innovator can be catapulted to success.

The IET has highlighted a selection of inspirational winners and finalists from its Present Around the World and Global Challenge competitions, all of whom have been recognised for developing ground-breaking inventions for the future. Here are the stories behind five projects that could help change the world.


University of Cambridge engineering students Joshua de Gromoboy, Gwilym Rowbotton and Siddharth Gupta created their product hipsterIce as part of the IET’s 2015 Global Challenge competition.

It’s an inexpensive, non-powered cooler that gives laptops five hours of efficient use every day, increasing performance and lifespan. hipsterice was recognised as a revolutionary product for humanitarian aid workers operating in hot countries, addressing the issue of heat negatively impacting the performance of laptops.

Nura Headphones

Co-founder of Nura Kyle Slater has a passion for music, sound, electronics and the brain and, after winning the IET’s Present Around the World competition in 2010 for his new headphones, his invention became the most-funded Australian Kickstarter campaign ever this summer.

The ‘light bulb’ moment for the Nura headphones came to Kyle on a research visit to the University of California. One of his colleagues was using an expensive pair of headphones that she loved (and he didn’t). This triggered a thought experiment: how do you make the perfect headphones?

Since we all hear differently, Kyle realised that no one pair of headphones could be perfect. So he invented the Nura headphones – the world’s first personalised headphones, which learn and adapt to our unique hearing.

“Nura headphones work by detecting the otoacoustic emission – a sound that your ear produces in response to sound you listened to,” says Kyle. “When you first use the headphones you download an app which runs you through a 30 seconds calibration to automatically detect your hearing profile.”


Robert Mayall, a PhD student at the University of Calgary, won the 2015/2016 IET’s Present Around the World competition for FREDsense, his biosensor technology that’s capable of detecting infectious agents rapidly, both in the air and in the human body, a process that usually takes more than three days.

“The detection sensor is as sensitive as the body’s immune system, so if a person was suffering with an illness such as the Zika Virus, the sensor will detect and respond to it within just five minutes, relieving the usual three day wait,” says Robert. “Since winning the competition, I’ve presented my work to the Canadian military and set up a company, FREDsense for another of my sensory innovations.”

Navi Stick

Nourah Al-Saad, an industrial engineering student at the American University of the Middle East and Africa, made it to the final of the IET’s 2015 Present Around the World competition with the Navi Stick – a navigation aid for the visually impaired, which she hopes will eventually improve the lives of blind people around the world.

“The Navi Stick uses a GPS system and an Indoor Positioning System (IPS) to allow greater mobility in unknown indoor and outdoor areas,” explains Noura. “The most impressive element is the image recognition feature - a recently developed technological innovation that allows Geographic Information System maps (GISM) to work alongside existing smartphone systems.

“This happens through an algorithm that employs the relative positioning of longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates so that the user can navigate more accurately than ever.”

Smart Windows

Co-workers and engineering students Muhammad Ali Babar Abbasi, Saleem Shahid and Rafay Iqbal Ansari joined forces to help Muhammad make the global final of the IET’s Present Around the World Competition this year for developing a solar-powered solution for the homes of the future.

Smart Windows comprises a thin sheet of solar panels that can be fixed to an existing window to harness solar energy. It can also be used as an antenna to transmit Wi-Fi.

The team explained: “The cities of the future will need infrastructure that is sustainable, energy efficient and spacially-unobtrusive, and this is an innovation that solves a lot of urban problems,” says the team.

The IET supports young engineering and technology entrepreneurs through two competitions – The Global Challenge and Present Around The World – both with the aim to develop their skills in presenting ideas and solving global problems. It also runs a Young Professionals community that brings together young engineers and technology experts from around the world to connect and share ideas.

Read about how young engineering and tech entrepreneurs have taken their first steps to success here.