The main focus of the James Dyson Award is on design and engineering, but there is also encouragement and support given to medical and scientific research to bring great change. The organization itself has donated over $14 million to these causes through grants, machine donations and fundraising endeavors led by the people at Dyson.

The James Dyson Award is aimed towards young people from 18 countries who think differently than others and come up with ideas to change the future. “Whatever the design, as long as it solves a problem, it’s got a chance of winning the James Dyson Award,” its website reads.

Along with the recognition, a $45,000 prize is given to the international winner to help take the idea from a prototype and launch it into a commercial product. The winner for this year’s award goes to a product called the inflatable baby incubator. The inventor is a Loughborough University graduate by the name of James Roberts. The project overall is called and referred to as “MOM” and is said to cost a fraction of the price of other alternatives currently in the market.

With the award money, Roberts is planning on continuing the project and perfecting it to bring to the market in 2017. The remarkable thing about this project is that it is delivered as a flat package to wherever its destination may be. The product is meant to be assembled at the site where it will be used. The inflatable incubator is a sheet of plastic that contains inflatable panels that can be blown up manually and heated by a ceramic element, which then keeps the newborn baby warm. When opened, it will stay open and not collapse on the baby. An Arduino computer keeps the temperature at a stable heat and also controls the humidification, a lamp and an alarm.

This product is huge step in taking care of infants, because it is safe for the baby and costs a lot less. Other incubators cost more because shipping the incubator requires large boxes. This incubator as mentioned above, ships flat and is easy to assemble once it is received.

The main purpose of this incubator is to decrease the number of premature child deaths within refugee camps. According to the MOM Incubator website, “Every year, an estimated 150,000 child births occur within refugee camps. Of these child births, 27,500 will die due to lack of sufficient incubation.”

Moving forward, the plans for MOM include using the money to perfect the prototypes and, if needed, doing a possible redesign to gain the best possible outcome for an inflatable incubator system.

– Brooke Smith

Sources: MOM Incubators, BBC, James Dyson Foundation
Photo: Flickr

Like great inventors before him, Timothy Whitehead identified a problem and then considered a creative solution. During a visit to Zambia, Whitehead noticed villagers sterilizing their water by dissolving iodine and chlorine pills. While technically successful, this method is not kind to the palate or time efficient—it takes up to half an hour to generate water grossly distorted in taste. But in Zambia’s predominantly tropical climate, time can be of the essence when it comes to water purification to treat dehydration.

Whitehead, who studied design and technology at Loughborough University in England, thought about ways to improve upon this process. Months of experimentation and research culminated in the unveiling of his Pure water bottle. Unfiltered water enters one of water bottle’s dual chambers. Then, the other chamber is pumped through the dirty water and serves as a physical filtration system. Lastly, the water that has now been separated from soil particles is sterilized by UV light activated by winding up a mechanical crank. Unlike its lengthy predecessor, the Pure water bottle creates tasty drinking water in under two minutes.

Drinking unsanitary water can cause a host of health problems. In developing nations, access to potable water can be difficult to come by and lack of access to healthcare can further exacerbate this issue. It is estimated that annually, 760 thousand children under 5 years of age die from diarrhea, which may be a result of drinking contaminated water. Expanding access to clean water has the potential to prevent millions of deaths.

Since its introduction, the Pure water bottle has received plenty of Internet buzz and accolades – even having the distinct honor of earning a 2010 James Dyson Award. The story behind Whitehead and his Pure water bottle is just one example of emerging technology that works to address pressing aspects of global poverty. When innovation and compassion for humanity unite, amazing results follow.

– Melrose Huang

Sources: BBC, Inhabitat, Timothy Whitehead, World Health Organization
Photo: WordPress