Today’s Solutions: November 30, 2021

Every year the international James Dyson Awards take place, where designers have to come up with new-problem solving ideas. Previous winners have included an at-home breast cancer detection box, a plastic alternative made from fish waste, and an urban wind turbine. The bar is set high for innovation, with the winners this year receiving a cash prize of £30,000 to scale up their ideas.

Sir James Dyson himself picks the winner of the competition from thousands of entries. It seems the contestants this year made this job extremely hard for him, and he ended up choosing not just one, but three winners from a record number of entries. In a comment to BBC he said: “Commercialising an idea is very hard and I hope that the awareness of the award drives, as well as the financial support it provides, will give these ideas a springboard to success.”

The glaucoma glove

The first of the three winners, Kelu You, invented a non-invasive and accessible device to monitor eye pressure for people with glaucoma. The disease is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. This comes about through damage to the optic nerve, caused by abnormally high eye pressure. You’s father has glaucoma, which inspired the revolutionary device.

There is no cure for glaucoma, but through preventative action, blindness can be avoided. Although, currently a hospital visit is required to keep track of intraocular pressure. You’s device cuts waiting times and eliminates commutes, using an e-skin sensor on a glove. This at-home device can be connected to an app via Bluetooth and immediate feedback can be gathered, allowing for quick treatment if pressure is too high. There is also a potential application of this device for sensor technology in other areas of health monitoring.

Rapid stab response tool

The medical winner was Loughborough University student Joseph Bently, with his invention of the rapid emergency actuating tamponade (React) device. The aim of this project is to provide quick acting aid for stab wounds, which are unfortunately a growing problem in London. On average, it takes five minutes to die from a stab wound, but 10 minutes for an ambulance to arrive on the scene. Bently’s device prevents blood loss by inflating a silicone balloon in the wound, giving the victim much-needed time.

Plastic scanner

A new category was created for a plastic scanning gadget this year called the ‘sustainability award.’ Jerry de Vos, who studies at TU Delft University of Technology, invented a genius device that can differentiate plastic types, organizing them to the correct recycling pile. Normally, this process is highly time consuming and expensive, with only 16 percent of plastic currently able to be recycled. Using discrete infrared light, the technology has an edge on current technologies due to the cheaper price of the scanning system used. These factors make the process much more affordable and accessible, a huge benefit for low income countries.

Image source: James Dyson Award

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